Ecotrophelia UK 2021

FoodMan Talks: Econauts claims gold at Ecotrophelia UK 2021

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ecotrophelia IFST Npd

Econauts, the student team from the University of Nottingham, has taken home the gold prize at this year’s Ecotrophelia UK student innovation competition with its non-alcoholic take on coffee liqueur.

Willgoss and her team took home first prize with their non-alcoholic Arabica coffee liqueur 'Librera' packaged in a reusable glass bottle with a cork lid and paper labelling. Each member of the gold-winning team took home a share of £2,000 and a one-year IFST membership.

Commenting on Econauts’ win, Willgoss said: “With the added pressures of COVID-19 and working remotely this year, we are so pleased to have been able to share our product with the judges and still be able to convey its delicious flavour and mouthfeel through Zoom.

“We are really looking forward to the challenge of the European final and can’t wait to see what amazing products the other teams have been developing.”

Entering the competition

In this exclusive FoodMan Talks interview, Jemima Willgoss from the Econauts team spoke to Food Manufacture ​about her team’s award winning NPD proposal and what drove them to enter this year’s competition.

“We’re ​[the Econauts team] all very passionate about quality food and the constant development of food and we thought it was a really exciting opportunity for us,”​ Willgoss explained.

“We do a similar module as part of our university degree, but we thought this was a way to take it further, get industry knowledge and really develop.”

Now in its ninth year, the ‘Dragon’s Den’ style competition challenges teams of UK students to develop innovative, eco-friendly food and drink products.

Grilled by the ‘dragons’

This year’s virtual event saw the finalists pitch their products to the judges, or ‘dragons’ for their chance at a place in the European final and a slice of the £3,500 prize fund.

Commenting on this year’s competition, IFST president Helen Munday said: “The students were challenged to be innovative and environmentally conscious, and demonstrate leadership through their product development and presentations.

“As the food sector adapts to the COVID-19 situation, the students also had to adapt by presenting on a virtual platform. It was a highly engaging event for all involved and the standards demonstrated by all the teams were of the highest level.”

Bertrand Emond, membership ambassador, professional development and culture excellence lead at Campden BRI said: "We are delighted that we are continuing to attract and inspire the best food science and technology students to take part in Ecotrophelia. It’s a fantastic way for them to get exposure to some of the industry’s biggest players and potential future employers.

Innovation and creativity

"Around 400 students from 20 different universities across the UK have now taken part since 2013 and we are very grateful for the continued support that competition receives from the industry sponsors. Innovation and creativity are essential for the continued success of the food industry and Ecotrophelia helps to achieve this”.

Econauts will go on to compete against other national teams across Europe chance to win up to €6,000 (£5,107) at the Ecotrophelia European final, which will take place during trade show Anuga in Cologne, Germany in October 2021.

The UK heat of this Europe-wide competition was organised by UK food and drink research organisation, Campden BRI, in conjunction with the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST), the independent qualifying body for food professionals in Europe.

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