Seaweed Innovation Challenge

North Sea Farmers and Brave New Food are joining forces to shake up the seaweed market. For many consumers seaweed is still relatively unknown as a daily product. But many are positively surprised when they hear seaweed can replace plastic packaging or improve the quality and taste of their food. Seaweed innovators already have these solutions, but find it difficult to reach consumers. That might change with the Seaweed Innovation Challenge starting on March 6th.

Seaweed is a versatile crop that can be farmed on large scale in Europe in a sustainable and natureinclusive way. It is a local resource that does not need land or freshwater to grow. It can be used for all kinds of daily life products such as food, feed, biostimulants and biomaterials. Often, these seaweedbased products are a sustainable alternative to existing fossilbased products. Nevertheless, it remains challenging to reach consumers with these innovative products. But with a growing population that will continue to consume ever more food and plastics, we do need these alternatives, sooner rather than later.

Seaweed for packaging and food products

But how to achieve this? North Sea Farmers and Brave New Food have now teamed up to lower the market barriers for seaweedbased packaging and food products. In this Seaweed Innovation Challenge they will invite innovators from all over the world to show their most promising and exciting food and packaging products. In a live pitch-event the best entrepreneurs will present their seaweed solution to established corporates with large market presence in Europe. All with the aim to start new collaborations that will bring these products to consumers.

In the first stage of the Seaweed Innovation Challenge, seaweed innovators from all over the world can submit their pitch on a dedicated online platform. Iris Menger, market coordinator at North Sea Farmers expects to scout at least 30 high-potential innovators and challenge them to pitch their concepts. “We believe in the potential of seaweed and know that great new seaweed products are out there. We just need to find a way to bring them to the markets that need these sustainable alternatives. In this challenge, we hope to inspire large companies to collaborate with the seaweed industry on this transition. More sustainable, healthier and better
products in more households in Europe with seaweed, that’s the aim.”

On the live pitch event on the 8th of June a jury including retail group Colruyt Group, international packaging company DS Smith and two other very relevant European market players (yet to be disclosed), will decide who will win the Seaweed Innovation Challenge.

These 4 winners will get a dedicated brainstorming session with one of the jury companies, media attention through the networks of North Sea Farmers and Brave New Food and a great opportunity to connect with various companies and investors, also attending the event.

Brave New Food’s Milo Laureij states: “We started to organize these innovation challenges three years ago and we’ve found out it’s a very effective way to make large companies aware of the great innovations that are out there. In previous challenges, we have attracted more than 800 pitches from startups from all over the world. Many of them held successful followup meetings, which in turn led to new collaborations. We have been a member of the NSF network for a few years because we also see a lot of potential in this versatile resource and this is a great way to combine our strengths. We have high expectations of this Seaweed Innovation Challenge and we’re counting on some new interesting and valuable collaborations”

About Brave New Food

Brave New Food is a food innovation network of established and new innovative food companies. By connecting the innovation challenges of established companies to solutions from a new generation of food startups and scaleups, they accelerate the food transition. In the past two years, they have received more than 800 pitches from over 50 countries for dozens of challenges on behalf of their 35 partners.

North Sea Farmers (NSF) is an independent and notforprofit sector organization for the European seaweed industry. By enabling their members to become successful with their seaweed ambitions NSF hope to shape an innovative and prosperous sector in Europe. NSF works in the entire seaweed value chain and facilitates knowledge exchange on sustainable seaweed cultivation, production, marketing, education, policies and research, and facilitates joint innovation projects. NSF’s activities are mainly focused on, but not limited to, the North Sea.

The Seaweed Innovation Challenge starts on March 6th and innovators can submit their pitchonline until April 30th. The final matchmaking event will take place on World Ocean’s Day, June 8th in The Netherlands. Organizations that want to attend or sponsor the event can contact North Sea Farmers.