10 foodtech and agritech companies that are revolutionizing the food industry in Western Switzerland
17 November 2022
As a vibrant agri-food hub, Western Switzerland is constantly developing new tools, products, services, and solutions in the fields of foodtech and agritech that support sustainable, more resilient food systems.
Renowned for the quality of its cheese and chocolate, Switzerland was always destined to play a major role in the global agri-food sector and is home to international companies such as Nestlé, Cailler, or Givaudan. The Swiss Confederation aims to drive foodtech innovation by leveraging its world-class research institutes, solid technological know-how, highly qualified workforce, consumers’ new mindsets, and leading players across the ecosystem.
The country can also count on the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley, the nationwide initiative to develop, strengthen and promote food innovation in Switzerland and beyond, as well as on its world-class research institutes, 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 region is also home to technology parks such as AgriCO, Agropôle, and PhytoArk, which allow food companies to progress in a stimulating environment. Thanks to all these opportunities, many companies are developing and innovating in the foodtech or agritech field, and supporting more sustainable food systems. Here are 10 companies that are revolutionizing food in Western Switzerland.
Based at Y-Parc in Yverdon-les-Bains, ecoRobotix develops a plant protection spraying machine, dubbed ARA, which uses artificial intelligence, its vision, and computer systems to detect and selectively spray weeds with a micro-dose of herbicide. Using cameras and advanced machine learning algorithms, ARA offers a quick return on investment, with an increase in profitability of up to 30%, while respecting environmental regulations.
Based in Romont, JNJ Automation is a world leader in the design and manufacture of machines for cheese processing and packaging. Between Industry 4.0 and the biobased economy, JNJ Automation’s robots process and ripen about 120 wheels of cheese per hour. The Fribourg-based company is one of the few in the world to offer this type of equipment.
Luya Foods develops and produces plant-based meat alternatives without trying to imitate meat. The Bern-based company prevents the waste of organic okara, a by-product of tofu and soymilk production. Luya has developed a proprietary and patented process – a combination of traditional fermentation methods and modern technology – to turn okara into delicious food. Using this process, Luya skips all the additives and highly processed protein isolates and offers 100% natural and organic products made in Switzerland.
Farmer Connect is an agritech whose digitalization solutions are designed to improve the traceability, efficiency, and sustainability of coffee, and cocoa supply chains globally. These solutions promote sustainable and efficient agriculture from farmers to consumers. Farmer Connect leverages several emerging technologies, such as blockchain, self-sovereign identity, and artificial intelligence.
The Sierre-based SME’s technology promotes sustainable agriculture by saving water and solving problems related to soil salinity, saline water, biofilm, clogging, and nematodes. By modifying the behavior of mineral and organic matter in the water, Aqua4D’s technology allows for a better dissolution and distribution of minerals in the water, a better water retention of the soil and, a better absorption of minerals by plants, while maintaining a healthy bacterial life. Respectful of the environment, the solution does not involve the use of chemicals and has very low electricity consumption.
CitizenBees is an eco-responsible company from Neuchâtel that develops a turnkey urban beekeeping service to host beehives on the roofs of companies and communities to participate in the preservation of bees, essential pollinating insects. Integrated sensors allow real-time monitoring of the hives and collect useful data for beekeepers and scientists.
The Fribourg-based company Alver produces superfoods based on Golden Chlorella, a microalga rich in proteins, minerals, and vitamins that grows naturally at the bottom of fresh waters. The cultivation of this alga requires 36 times less water than the production of animal proteins and emits less CO2. Alver thus contributes to a sustainable food, rich in protein and respectful of nature.
To reduce food waste and support sustainable food production, AgroSustain comes up with biological & natural farm-to-fork solutions for sustainable plant protection. The Vaud-based start-up conceives a 100% natural innovative coating that extends the freshness of crops by more than 20 days, while its biological fungicides protect a broad number of agronomically important crops from molds that damage them in the field and down the supply chain.
In collaboration with 365FarmNet, the Bern-based company Barto offers a digital farm manager specially adapted to Swiss agriculture’s needs. Farmers can enter and centralize all types of data related to their farm from their smartphone or computer, thus reducing the important administrative burden related to their activity and saving considerable time.
Edaphos is an agritech start-up specializing in the production of high-performance fungal biomass for soil decontamination. In nature, fungi degrade almost all waste, so they can also degrade pollutants. Based on the observation of living organisms and the understanding of the functioning of fungal mycelia, Edaphos’ exclusive technologies allow the mass production of very high-performance fungal active ingredients to respond to the problems of all players in the circular economy.
According to the Patent Index 2021 of the European Patent Office (EPO), Switzerland is the country filing the most patents in the world in proportion to its population, with foodtech being the second most patented field after pharmaceuticals. Constantly innovating in the food industry, Western Switzerland is positioning itself as a foodtech and agritech hub by advocating more sustainable food systems. Learn more about what makes Switzerland a burgeoning agrifood hub here.