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Strong ideas for a sustainable future

While all the other start-ups explained their ideas for the agtech and food industry with the help of PowerPoint slides, Vanozza founder Nico Hansen from Hamburg simply stood on stage and talked about his desire to develop a vegan mozzarella that tastes delicious, melts well and pulls strings, about his aunt from northern Italy who helped him find the right ingredients without flavourings, colourings and preservatives, and about the 1,000 or so attempts he has made since 2015 to perfect the taste.

"Your presentation inspired a lot of confidence," said Prof Dr Rainer Langosch, Dean of Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences and part of the seven-member jury that selected the winners of the Startup Days on Wednesday evening at Grüne Woche. "The presentation was unique. You covered all the important points," said jury member Annika Ahlers from the German Agrifood Society. The fact that the samples the jury brought with them tasted good was particularly favourable. "I was convinced it was very delicious," said Prof. Dr Engel Arkenau, Digitalisation Officer at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, who awarded Vanozza 62 out of a possible 70 points.

Vanozza wins sixth Startup Days

Marie Tauber, Operations Manager at Vanozza, had tears in her eyes. "I'm really touched by the positive feedback," she said immediately after the pitch. When jury chairman Gerald Dohme from the German Farmers' Association actually announced Vanozza as the winner of the Startup Days on the stage of the Erlebnisbauernhof on Wednesday evening, the emotion turned into exuberant joy.

The prize for young start-ups from the agricultural technology and food industry was awarded for the sixth time at Grüne Woche. Ten companies presented themselves over two days. They had to present their idea in just two minutes and then answer questions from the seven-member jury for eight minutes. They were judged in seven categories, including the business idea, social added value, scalability and the presentation itself.

Choosing wisely

Each start-up is at a different stage. Which one could use the prize the most, which one should receive a special mention, for example in terms of innovation, sustainability or animal welfare? The jury asked itself many questions. In the end, the experts unanimously decided in favour of four companies that they wanted to highlight:

Second place went to Pflanzentheke from Lorsch, which has set itself the task of using climate-resilient cultivation systems and cultivation techniques to enable the safe and vertical cultivation of fruit and vegetables. Third place went to Emilie Wegner from Hülsenreich, who aims to raise awareness of pulses as a food with her organic-certified roasted chickpea snacks.

For the good of the bees

The jury also awarded a young talent prize. This went to Hivesound from Hamburg, who have developed an AI-controlled monitoring system for beehives. The buzzing of the bees serves as a valuable indicator of parasite infestation or information on whether the queen is still there. "My sister is a beekeeper. She would be thrilled if she could look at an app in the evening to find out how her bees are doing," said jury member Engel Arkenau. As a special prize, Hive Sound will be given the opportunity to take part in an inspirational trip organised by the Andreas Hermes Academy to network start-ups and agriculture.

Nico Hansen and Vanozza are delighted to receive coaching prize money of 1,000 euros and the opportunity to take part in an accelerator programme from Rentenbank as well as the opportunity to present the Vanozza products at Grüne Woche 2025. Jury chairman Gerald Dohme concluded by praising the high quality of the ten companies: "A strong development in the professionalism of the start-ups is recognisable," he said. The decision will certainly not be any easier next year.

The Startup Days 2024 winner on stage at the ErlebnisBauernhof

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