1 APRIL 2020, BANGKOK – Thai Union Group PCL joined its partners in hosting a “Demo Day” to showcase innovative startups under the first food-tech incubator and accelerator program in Thailand and South East Asia.
Together with the National Innovation Agency (Public Organization), or NIA, Mahidol University, Thai Beverage PCL, Betagro Group and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Jaiyos Co. Ltd, Thai Union co-hosted the ‘SPACE-F batch 2 Accelerator Demo Day’ to allow entrepreneurial startups to demonstrate how they have embraced technology to bring advancements to the food industry.
Nine startups participated in the SPACE-F Demo Day including Advance Green Farm: Farming of high-quality wolffian; Avant Meat: Lab-grown fish for food and cosmetics markets; DEZPAX: customized, eco-friendly and affordable food packaging for F&B SMEs; IXON Food Technology: Sous-vide aseptic packaging; Karana: Plant-based proteins from jackfruit; Nitro Labs: Craft brewer of coffee and tea; Profile Print: taste and quality analyzer using AI; Sophie’s Bionutrients: Plant based protein from microalgae, grown in urban, fed with food waste; Spira: food-safe pigments from microalgae which provides high-protein by-product.
Dr. Pun-Arj Chairatana, Executive Director of NIA, said “Building the competitiveness of the country in the future requires more deep technology, or advanced technology known as “deep-tech”, to be an engine for long-term business growth. Food-tech is one of our key areas in Agritech, ARI (AI, Robotic, and Immersive), Spacetech, and Healthtech. The NIA has set a goal to build 100 new deep-tech startups in three years. SPACE-F is one of the projects that the NIA initiated together with leading organizations from three sectors: public, private, and university to drive Thailand’s food industry to be a “Food-tech Silicone Valley”. SPACE-F is focusing on setting-up nine food-tech trends to the world – 1) health & wellness, 2) alternative protein, 3) smart manufacturing, 4) packaging solutions, 5) novel food & ingredients, 6) biomaterials & chemicals, 7) restaurant-tech, 8) food safety & quality, and 9) smart food services. For the past two years, there have been 34 startups join the program, of which four have received funding from the NIA - More Meat, Sesamilk, Artificial Anything, and Trash Lucky. Besides being a funding mechanism, the NIA also supports startups to grow continuously through networking with public and private sectors and marketing channels such as social media and innovation events.”
Dr. Tunyawat Kasemsuwan, Group Director for Global Innovation at Thai Union Group PCL., said “The Accelerator Demo Day is always an exciting day, as we get to witness a new batch of innovations. And this year, consumer demands are changing with increasing speed as COVID-19 has impacted not only our business operations, but our way of life. COVID-19 has forced people to change what, how and where they eat. Such change brings challenges and opportunities; and startups in this batch of SPACE-F are rising to the challenge, combining food-tech innovation with entrepreneurial spirit to capture the many opportunities that change brings; for example, healthier nutrition, sustainability, or resilient local production. Thai Union is pleased to see the first step of their success today.”
Prof. Pattarachai Kiratisin, Director of Institute for Technology and Innovation Management, on behalf of Prof. Banchong Mahaisavariya, President of Mahidol University, said, “Food is the most essential element for living. Since we are all different, we also need personalized food. In the medical world, a similar concept applies. The same drug may not cure everyone. We need new ideas for food that fits a variety of demands. Particularly, those who need special food, including medical food and supplements. Consumers want healthy, good tasting food. Food innovation is, therefore, definitely crucial to fill in the gap for better living. Alternative food or ingredients will also be of much interest such as plant-based proteins. Research and extensive testing are important foundations of innovation. At Mahidol University, many food researchers cover various aspects, such as nutrition, texture, and taste, including various high technology equipment. We are delighted to be a part of SPACE-F to support new generations and their creative ideas, and these startups will be our future of food technology. Today is only the beginning, but with their enthusiasm, we already see some light in their startup journey.”
Mrs. Tongjai Thanachanan, Chief of Sustainable Business Development, Thai Beverage Public Company Limited, said, “We are pleased with all the startups who have completed the SPACE-F Batch 2 accelerator project. We hope that you will be able to take the knowledge and experiences from this program to further develop your businesses in food innovation and technology. ThaiBev is proud to be part of the support to all the startup teams. We are committed to work jointly with both public and private sectors, to develop our country’s competency and to drive innovation and technology in our food and beverage industry to be the leader in ASEAN and globally. Our goal is to promote the global Sustainability Goal of Good Health and Well-being. We hope that all startups in SPACE-F Batch 2 will become great force to develop Thailand’s food and beverage industry to become a leading player in the world stage.”
Mr. Vasit Taepaisitphongse, Chief Executive Officer and President, Betagro Group, said “SPACE-F Batch 2 signifies the first step to upgrade the food industry by merging the food-related innovation to the state-of-the-art food technology to sustain the business growth. From the Accelerator Demo Day, Betagro witnessed the impressive results of the food-related innovation. It has also opened the new aspect to business and equipped the food industry with the capability to deal with changes in this Digital Disruption era. Betagro strongly believes that the success of more support and development to Food- tech Startup members, the more access the consumers will have to good quality foods that sustain our lives.”
Mr. Subhasakdi Krishnamra, Country Managing Partner, Deloitte Thailand, said, “Today we have seen such interesting and innovative pitches and booth displays from the FoodTech startups. Deloitte is very pleased to join this program in collaboration with SPACE-F as it is a good opportunity to make a meaningful contribution as SPACE-F’s purpose also aligns with Deloitte’s WorldClass ambition to help those who may be potentially left behind and also to prepare the next generation for the future economy through practical knowledge we collected through years of consulting experiences and also through Innovation. At Deloitte, innovation is highly valued as we believe it can bring positive changes to both business and society. We strive to bring the best innovation to our clients and the larger innovation community. I am very pleased to have met with many rising star FoodTech startups today and wish you all will grow and be very successful in this new venture.”