The EWA (Empowering Women in Agrifood) programme by EIT Food is being implemented in Estonia by Tartu Biotechnology Park and gives 10 women the opportunity to develop their business ideas further with the guidance of a professional mentor,take part in workshops and other events related to the programme within a periood of six months.
27 women who wanted to develop their business ideas in the food and agriculture sector applied for the EWA programme 2023 in Estonia. The applications were reviewed and evaluated by Tartu Biotechnology Park. Among the submitted applications, there were many strong applications deserving of entry into the programme, making it difficult to select the top 10. The final selection was determined by how innovative and sustainable the ideas were, their compliance with the focus areas of EIT Food, and the desire to include as many different business ideas as possible in the EWA programme.
Selected candidates and mentors met for the first time on June 12 at the EWA matchmaking event in Tartu. The event was opened by Sven Parkel, the CEO of Tartu Biotechnology Park, Małgorzata Druciarek, Senior Project Manager in EIT Food CLC North-East and Gender Equality Expert gave a presentation on the activities of EIT Food, and Siim Kinnas from Enterprise Estonia trained the participants on intellectual property. Maris-Väli Täht, project manager of Tartu Biotechnology Park, introduced the EWA programme in more detail. This was followed by an introduction of the mentors, who spoke about their experience and background in the field of food and agriculture. After that, the mentees got the floor and presented their business ideas.
10 mentor-mentee pairs had been formed in advance by Tartu Biotechnology Park, taking into account the wishes and expectations of the candidates regarding mentoring and the profile of the mentors. Matchmaking ended with establishing contacts between mentors and mentees and informal discussions.
10 women who were selected to the programme:
- Alina Rätsep wants to use food waste and food by-products to develop organic cosmetic products.
- Juta Lipmeister is developing a vegetable garden based on the principles of permaculture and wants to create a weekly standing order for a vegetable box from spring to autumn.
- Jaana Hansman’s idea is to offer fermented food such as kimchi from local ingredients.
- Kaire Rajaver specializes in the production of pea tempeh (a fermented legume product) made from the local yellow pea.
- Kristi Kuusmik-Orav wants to develop healthy food products made from sprouts.
- Liis Tuur develops non-alcoholic botanical bitters, the goal of which is to reduce alcohol consumption and save on healthcare costs using sustainable raw materials from the wild forest and promoting sustainable farming at the samet time.
- Maarja Mathias‘s idea is to raise the food safety awareness of small producers, which enables them to enter new markets.
- Mariliis Mia Topp is developing a fermentation technology that results in low-calorie products with unique taste and nutritional value, containing lactic acid bacteria.
- Marianne Kosenkranius is developing an online platform that allows school cooks access to healthy and sustainable recipes.
- Sirli Rosenvald wants to bring to the market foods based on filamentous fungi, which would be tasty, healthy and environmentally friendly alternatives to meat products.
10 mentors in the programme are:
- Alo Lilles, Fstage.vc, Startup Mentor, Investor; Guardtime OÜ, Project Manager
- Anastasiia Shevchenko, 0.93 OÜ, Founder/CEO
- Kristin Moppel, Migrevention OÜ, Marketing Manager
- Liise Valma, Tartu Science Park/Tehnopol, Startup Mentor
- Martin Järvekülg, Click & Grow OÜ, Head of Research and Development
- Oliver Loit, Estonian Rural Knowledge Center, Head of the Innovation Support Service
- Rain Kuldjärv, TFTAK AS, Team Leader, Functional foods & beverages
- Reesi Valge, RealCoach OÜ, Leader and Team Coach
- Triin Kõrgmaa, Salvest AS, Chief Executive Officer
- Viljam Viljasoo, Tartu Business Advisory Board, Business Coach
Personal mentoring between the mentors and the women entrepreneurs they supervise has now started and will be continued until the end of November.
During the programme implementation, a masterclass event will be organized in the fall, at least one online training for the mentees and the final local event, i.e. pitching competition will be organized as an open event and will take place in Tartu on November 18.
The European final event of the EWA programme “Women in Agrifood Summit 2023” will be organized on December 1, in Vilnius, Lithuania. The event will be open for a big audience and online participation will be possible. The details of the event are currently being prepared.