Food innovation contest finalists compete for £160k prize pot

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Six food and drink firms have made the shortlist in this year's Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Technologies Competition
Six food and drink firms have made the shortlist in this year's Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Technologies Competition

Related tags Innovation Npd

Innovations from across the food and drink sector have made the shortlist to this year’s Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Technologies Competition.

The six finalists in the food and drink category represented a diverse range of ideas, from a method to differentiate adult stem cells to make cultivated meat products, to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to create unique ‘fingerprints’ for food products.

Other noteworthy contenders among this year’s 24 finalists that could have applications in the food and drink industry included a plant-protein alternative to plastics and microplastics, a suspended graphene gas sensor for real-time air-quality monitoring and a new system to rapidly develop new enzyme products.

‘Pioneering ideas’

Jo Reynolds, director of Science & Communities at the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “We have been incredibly impressed by the quality and quantity of applications to the competition. The proposals have demonstrated that this year’s extraordinary circumstances have fuelled some pioneering ideas for chemistry to play a prominent role in tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the planet at this moment.

“As always, it was very difficult to narrow the wealth of applications down to the final 24, but we believe this year’s shortlist represents a hugely exciting range of agile tech innovators, start-ups and spin-outs with opportunities to bring cutting-edge science to the real world and benefit all of us.

This year’s finalists are in the running for a share of a £160,000 prize pool, with successful applicants awarded £20,000, 12 month’s one-on-one support from a specially assigned Royal Society of Chemistry mentor and offered a further £20,000 available as a business acceleration grant.

£51m equity investment

Emerging Technologies Competition winners from previous years have gone on to raise a combined total of over £51m in equity investment and grant funding, with one company subsequently being sold for £28m.

In July, Food Manufacture ​spoke to Ellen Norman, Reading Scientific Services Ltd's principal scientist and judge at this year’s competition, ​about what she believed would makes a winner in the contest.

Meanwhile, Fiona Kibby, Society of Food Hygiene & Technology board member, and Laura Ryan, global chair of Meat Business Women, are helping to judge the 2021 Food Manufacture Excellence Awards.

Food and drink finalists

Mitocholine Ltd

A novel chemical composition of natural metabolites that, if consumed regularly in the diet, will counteract the development of metabolic syndrome and impede the onset of dementia.


A revolutionary product to boost crop yields, based on a water-soluble sugar-based material that unlocks the current bottleneck in agricultural production: the inefficiency of crops at utilising sunlight.

Hide Biotech

Transforming fish industry waste into a collagen-based material that replicates genuine leather. As leather is 90% collagen, this material replicates the authentic feel of leather and significantly reduce water consumption, carbon footprint, and off-cut waste generated in the leather manufacturing process.

Hoxton Farms

Using mathematical modelling and machine learning to expand and differentiate adult stem cells to make cultivated meat products (meat grown from animal cells in labs).

Aarhus University

Revolutionising screening methods in the food market. A combination of colorimetric sensors note responses to different environments (e.g. different beverages’ colour changes) using advanced AI to create unique 'fingerprints' for each product.

Setanta Nutrition Science

A novel, nutraceutical formula to increase endothelial nitric oxide (NO) by supplying NO precursors (nitrate and nitrite) with a natural nitrite reductase as well as antioxidants which can synergistically protect the eNO producing enzyme (NO synthase) and improve NO production from NO precursors.


Related topics Emerging Science & Tech Technical

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