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Grassa BV wins €50.000,-


25 May 2023

Winner ‘Upcycling horticulture side streams’ Grassa BV awarded €50.000,-

During Foodvalley NL’s Innovation Insights, the challenge on ‘upcycling of horticulture side streams’ into valuable proteins, enzymes, and/or supplements came to an exciting end. This challenge was organised by SIGN (Foundation for Innovation in Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands) and Foodvalley NL. Winning company Grassa BV was awarded the prize for their market ready refinery technology, clear view on logistic processes, and experience in upcycling supply chains.

The pilot

Based on an in-depth pitch session on 8 May, the expert jury awarded Grassa BV €50.000,- stimulation budget to realize a pilot for the production of at least 500KG of plant proteins from tomato side streams (leaves and stems).

The nominated companies presented their solutions to the audience of the Innovation Insights meeting held on 23 May. During the afternoon Upcycling Community meeting of Foodvalley NL, on ‘bridging circular food innovators’, Grassa presented its solution and connected with several partners working on upcycling of side streams.  

The winning company Grassa BV, convinced the jury of their market-ready refinery solution and their capabilities to forge necessary partnership. Their business proposition addressed specific aspects of the new upcycling chain. They presented clear scenarios how to organize the pilot for horticulture side streams resulting in ingredients for different markets in the agrifood value chain.

About the challenge

Horticulture side streams contain many valuable food and feed nutrients such as proteins and enzymes. The big challenge is how to process the wet side streams in an optimal way. Side streams are now composted or even burned, while there are so many opportunities to use the biomass for high value market once a cost-efficient technology can be applied to refine the valuable proteins, nutrients and fibers. Supported by the platform of Brave New Food, the challenge was initiated by SIGN and Foodvalley NL to find those entrepreneurs who have refinery solutions in place.

Jury criteria

After the publication of the challenge in February this year, several companies sent in their solution. The jury considered the following aspects to rank the companies and select three nominees and a winning company.

  • Take it to scale! There is already a lot of research being done on how to get the ingredients out the plant. However, the challenge is how to do this in a cost-effective way.
  • The company who will provide the technology should have a plan in place to tackle challenges like seasonal availability, transport from greenhouse to processing side, and partnerships to explore the new markets for the upcycled food or feed ingredients.

The finalists & winner

During a pitch event hosted by Peter Duijvestijn in his innovative high-tech tomato greenhouse, three finalists were selected by the jury.

  • AgroSingularity has been upcycling and valorizing by-products since 2019 in Murcia, Spain. They not only transform side streams into food ingredients, but they also add flavor, colour, micronutrients and other functionalities to them to make specialist blends with technological functions.
  • Italian food-tech company Circular Fiber produces flour made from artichoke side streams. Their fiber rich flour results in a 50% lower carbon footprint and even a 90% lower water footprint compared to regular types of flour.
  • Netherlands-based Grassa unlocks the full potential of grass and other horticultural side streams by pressing, fermenting and other novel refinery techniques to extract functional proteins, minerals and more digestible roughage. Their demo plant in Afferden, The Netherlands, can process 3 tons of feedstock per hour for biorefinery purposes.

Meet the jury

Peter Duijvestijn – Co-owner and Supply Chain Manager at Duijvenstijn Tomaten – a family-owned tomato grower known as one of the most innovative and sustainable tomato growers in the Netherlands. Peter Duijvenstijn is also board member of SIGN. In his role as jury member, he focused mainly on the practical and logistical aspects of a possible pilot for upcycling horticulture side streams.

Kim van Oosterom Project leader at Duijvenstijn Tomaten for several innovation projects and supports Peter Duijvestijn in innovation management.

Wiro Sterk – Managing Director at Vega Insiders, a company producing plant-based protein rich products for vegan and vegetarian food concepts. In the jury, Wiro represents the market perspective on isolated proteins and fibers that will come from horticulture side streams.

Anne-Claire van Altvorst – Senior Business Developer at InnovationQuarter and has ample experience with the validation of business cases and the coaching of startups/innovators in the agrifood supply chain.

Bas Allart – Co-founder of Brave New Food, the European open innovation platform that stimulates collaborations between innovative startups, scale-ups, food corporations, retailers, investors and knowledge partners. Before starting Brave New Food, he was involved in several incubator and innovation programmes such as HortiHeroes.

Dewi Hartkamp – Programme manager at SIGN, supporting the development of circular development within the horticultural sector through the Innovation program Circular Horticulture 2021-2025. SIGN initiated the challenge in collaboration with Foodvalley NL with the ultimate goal to have a positive total use score for all horticulture biomass.

Jolijn Zwart-van Kessel – Innovation Lead Circular Agrifood at Foodvalley NL, working on the transition towards more circular agrifood systems. Foodvalley NL collaborates with SIGN in this challenge and has the ultimate goal to create more successful business cases for agrifood side streams upcycled towards food.

Caroline Duivenvoorden –Programme manager at Foodvalley NL, working on the transition towards more circular agrifood systems by supporting collaboration between partners on upcycling food. Last year Foodvalley NL launched the Upcycling Community. This challenge on horticulture side streams is one of the initiatives that is positioned within the Upcycling Community.

The upcycling community

During the Pre-F&A Next Event of the Upcycling Community ‘Bridging circular food innovators’ on 23 May 2023 hosted at the Unilever Hive in Wageningen, Grassa presented their winning solutions. This directly offered opportunities for further collaboration with upcycling partners in and around our Upcycling Community. More information: Upcycling Community – |Foodvalley