Western Switzerland is a thriving agri-food cluster that is continually creating new food tech and agritech tools, products, services, and solutions to support resilient, sustainable food systems.
Switzerland, known for the excellence of its cheese and chocolate, was destined to play a significant part in the global agri-food industry and is the home of multinational corporations like Nestlé, Cailler, or Givaudan. By utilizing its top-tier research facilities, sound technological know-how, highly skilled workforce, consumers’ changing perspectives, and influential stakeholders throughout the ecosystem, the Swiss Confederation hopes to spur food tech innovation.
The nation can also rely on its world-class research institutions, such as the EPFL Integrative Food and Nutrition Center, the HES-SO Institute of Life Technologies, or the Food Ecosystem Institute of the University of Applied Sciences of Fribourg. The Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley is a national initiative that aims to develop, strengthen, and promote food innovation in Switzerland and abroad. AgriCO, Agropôle, and PhytoArk are just a few of the technological parks in the area that enable food businesses to develop in a dynamic environment. Many businesses are growing and innovating in the food tech or agritech space and promoting more sustainable food systems as a result of all these opportunities.
Here are 10 businesses that are changing the way food is prepared in Western Switzerland:
The plant protection spraying device ARA, created by ecoRobotix and based in Yverdon-les-Bains, employs artificial intelligence, computer systems, and vision to identify weeds and selectively spray them with a micro-dose of herbicide. While adhering to environmental rules, ARA delivers a rapid return on investment with an improvement in profitability of up to 30% using cameras and sophisticated machine learning algorithms.
JNJ Automation, based in Romont, is a global pioneer in the design and production of machinery for the packaging and processing of cheese. The robots from JNJ Automation process and mature roughly 120 wheels of cheese every hour thanks to Industry 4.0 and the biobased economy. One of the few companies in the world that provide this kind of equipment is the Fribourg-based business.
Without attempting to replicate meat, Luya Foods develops and produces plant-based meat substitutes. The Bern-based business avoids the waste of organic okara, a by-product of the manufacture of tofu and soymilk. To transform okara into delectable cuisine, Luya has created a unique, patented process that combines contemporary technology with conventional fermenting techniques. With the use of this procedure, Luya produces all-natural, organic goods in Switzerland without the use of additives or highly processed protein isolates.
Globally improving the traceability, effectiveness, and sustainability of the coffee and cocoa supply chains is the goal of the agritech company Farmer Connect. From farmers to consumers, these innovations support efficient and sustainable agriculture. Farmer Connect makes use of a number of cutting-edge technologies, including AI, blockchain, and self-sovereign identification.
The technology developed by the Sierre-based SME supports sustainable agriculture by reducing water use and addressing issues with biofilm, clogging, nematodes, soil salinity, and saline water. Aqua4D’s technology improves the behavior of mineral and organic matter in water, resulting in better mineral dispersion in the water, improved soil water retention, and improved mineral uptake by plants—all while preserving a robust bacterial population. The solution is environmentally friendly because it uses very little power and doesn’t utilize any chemicals.
CitizenBees is a Neuchâtel-based eco-friendly business that creates a turnkey urban beekeeping service to host beehives on the rooftops of businesses and communities in an effort to contribute to the preservation of bees, an important pollinating insect. Integrated sensors enable real-time hive monitoring and gather information that is helpful to scientists and beekeepers.
The Fribourg-based business creates superfoods based on Golden Chlorella, a microalga that naturally develops at the bottom of freshwater bodies and is high in proteins, minerals, and vitamins. This algae can be grown with 36 times less water and with less CO2 than animal protein production. Alver helps create a sustainable, protein-rich diet that is also kind to the environment.
AgroSustain develops organic and natural farm-to-fork solutions for sustainable plant protection in an effort to lower food waste and support sustainable food production. The Vaud-based start-up develops a 100% natural revolutionary coating that increases crop freshness by more than 20 days, and its biological fungicides shield a wide range of key crops for agronomy against molds that might harm them in the field and further along the supply chain.
The Bern-based business Barto offers a digital farm manager that is especially tailored to the requirements of Swiss agriculture through a partnership with 365FarmNet. From their computer or smartphone, farmers may enter and consolidate all forms of data linked to their farm, minimizing the significant administrative load associated with their work and saving a significant amount of time.
An agricultural technology start-up called Edaphos focuses on the creation of high-performance fungal biomass for soil cleaning. Fungi may reduce pollutants since they naturally decompose practically all waste. The unique technologies offered by Edaphos enable the mass production of extremely high-performance fungal active ingredients to address the issues faced by all participants in the circular economy. These technologies are based on observations of living things and an understanding of how fungal mycelia function.
Foodtech is the second most patented sector after pharmaceuticals, according to the European Patent Office’s (EPO) Patent Index 2021, with Switzerland being the nation that files the most patents globally in relation to its population. Western Switzerland is presenting itself as a foodtech and agritech centre by promoting more sustainable food systems. Western Switzerland is constantly innovating in the food business. Here, you may find out more about what makes Switzerland a developing agri-food centre.
This article is a contribution from Invest Western Switzerland.
Image provided by Tanathip Rattanatum