A team of students from the University of Nottingham have taken home the grand prize at Ecotrophelia UK 2023 with their winning insect-based snack bites.
This year marks the 11th anniversary of the Dragon’s Den style competition, which challenges UK students to develop an innovative, eco-friendly food or drink product.
From idea generation through to the final packaged product, the teams get a hands-on experience of what it takes to bring a product to market.
After fighting off competition to reach the final, the seven teams pitched their prototypes and concepts in front of a panel of industry judges.
PlanEat (pictured above and featured in the video below) was announced as the gold-award-winning team, taking home a cheque for £2,000 as well as a year’s free membership to the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST), an invitation to become an IFST ambassador, and the opportunity to spend a mentorship day with the dragons who judged the competition.
The silver and bronze-award teams, Hey Pesto of Nottingham University and Eco-Co of Nottingham Trent University, took home £1,000 and £500 respectively, with both teams also receiving a year’s free IFST membership.
PlanEat will now take its Protein Poppers, ready-to-eat, texturised insect snack bites, to the European final.
Taking place in October 2023, the team will represent the UK as they compete against 20 other national winners for the grand prize of €6,000. In collaboration with IFST, Food Manufacture will document their journey to the final, creating a ‘Road to Europe’ piece to inspire future generations of Ecotrophelia entrants.
Bertrand Emond, membership ambassador, professional development and culture excellence lead at Campden BRI, which organises the UK heat round alongside IFST, said: “Ecotrophelia is a fantastic platform and source of innovation and inspiration for the industry capitalising on the creativity and energy of our brightest and most enterprising food students supported by the best academic institutions.”
“This year’s Ecotrophelia has once again shown us the breadth of exceptionally talented young food scientists and technologists in UK universities,” added IFST chief executive, Tim McLachlan. “We have been blown away by the quality of entries this year, and the commitment of the teams to creating unique, innovative products. On behalf of IFST, it has been a real pleasure to host seven excellent finalists; the judges have been really impressed.”