Aarhus University Seal

Collaboration generates success in the food industry

For the fourth time Aarhus University hosted the food conference European Food Venture Forum, where 32 companies from 16 different countries had the opportunity to meet potential investors and collaboration partners.

[Translate to English:] Universitetet er blot én af medspillerne på innovationsområdet, og samarbejde med virksomheder og investorer er af afgørende betydning for vækst i branchen. Foto: Colourbox

You probably don’t think about it, but when you go to your local supermarket to buy e.g. yoghurt, huge efforts have been made to allow you to choose this particular product. The yoghurt has been tested to see if it contains the right bacteria and texture and taste, and the shelf life have been thoroughly examined. A lot of thought will have  been given to the marketing of the product to ensure that you will choose it.

It is a huge step to establish a company and the road to success is often paved with challenges, which may seem difficult or even impossible to overcome for an independent entrepreneur.

These challenges are the basis for the annual network conference in the food industry – European Food Venture Forum (EFVF) – recently held in Aarhus prior to the major Food Festival. The conference was arranged by the network organization European Unlimited and the major aim was to establish a strong business-to-business network relations between the various actors within the food industry. For the fourth time the organizers chose Aarhus as the venue and Aarhus University acted as co-host.

- Denmark is in a leading position within the food area. The industry is characterized by high-quality products as well as a high level of innovation. That is why we are very pleased to have EFVF here, says founder and director of European Unlimited, William Stevens.

Cooperation is crucial

The 2-day event took place in the iNano building at Aarhus University and also at the accountancy firm Ernst & Young. Thirty-two small and medium-sized companies from 16 different countries were provided the opportunity to present their products and ideas to potential investors and collaboration partners; among these e.g. Arla Foods, Chr. Hansen and Carlsberg.

It is very important and quite natural that Aarhus University chooses to become involved in a conference like this, explains Michelle Williams, Head of Department of Food at Aarhus University:

- The university is one of the players in the innovation pathway, partnerships with small medium enterprises, large multinational companies and investors are  critical and are crucially importance to the industry’s growth. The value of the EFVF is that it brings together all these players for two very interesting and dynamic days, Michelle Williams says. 

The companies were selected based on a round of applications and were able to present ideas within a broad range of areas such as e.g. food processing, production of sustainable packaging and pills to improve male fertility. Next, the entrepreneurs received feedback from a jury, which evaluated the business potential, the technological possibilities, the competitive situation, investor interest and experiences from other companies.

The university produces good ideas

Several of the 32 companies participating in the conference were founded by entrepreneurs who know the university world or who have made good use of advice from scientists in the initial phase. Aarhus University already has strong collaborative relations with the Danish food companies, but an event such as EFVF makes it possible to meet entrepreneurs and investors from the entire European food sector.

- EU funding for small and medium enterprises is also increasing and therefore it is an excellent forum to meet food entrepreneurs and to determine if and how we could partner and add value to their companies, Michelle Williams says.

As in previous years, eight specifically attractive projects were selected in 2015. All winners are given the opportunity to present their business model at the final European Venture Summit in Düsseldorf later this year. At this event even more venture capital companies will be in the audience.

Award winners

For more information please contact:
Head of Department Michelle Williams
Email: mw@food.au.dk
T: 0045 8715 7957/87158 335
Cell: 0045 2517 0049