The final event of EWA (Empowering Women in Agrifood) programme was held in Tartu on November 18th. An open onsite event incorporated representatives of investors and public sector, entrepreneurs and others interested in food innovation.
The EWA programme is aimed at supporting female entrepreneurs in development of their business ideas and reducing gender inequality in the agriculture and food sector. EWA programme was carried out in Estonia for the first time and with support of Tartu Biotechnology Park. The main organizer of the initiative is EIT Food, supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.
Out of 27 applications, 10 women were invited to take part in this amazing adventure. Each participant had a unique opportunity to develop her business idea under the guidance of a professional female or male mentor for almost 6 months and to attend various trainings related to the implementation of the programme.
The goal of the Pitching event was to identify two business ideas with the highest final score, that received grants from EIT Food on the amount of €10,000 and €5,000 for further development.
The program of the final event included also three inspirational speakers who shared their entrepreneurial experience and invited the audience to think and discuss about a sustainable and circular food system. First, it was possible to enjoy the presentation made by Tea Nõmmann, who shared the success story of KODAS with the audience. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the company, and today KODAS is an internationally known small company that develops fermentation technologies in organic production across the entire food chain, including the valorization of by-products from production into functional food.
Annemari Polikarpus shared her long-term entrepreneurial experience as the founder of Viinamärdi farm, where unique sheep’s milk products are made in the form of cheeses and yogurts. Kadri Kalle, as a well-known sustainable development expert and coach, invited the participants to think about where the environmental impact of food comes from and what a circular food system means.
After that, all ten women who participated in the EWA programme pitched their business ideas to the jury and the audience at site. Business ideas developed during the EWA programme included both innovative food products and services:
- Alina Rätsep – natural cosmetics brand vassa hebin, where by-products of food production in local farms are used to make pure natural products.
- Juta Lipmeister – a production garden based on the principles of permaculture at the Metsalinnu farm, which includes a seasonal weekly offer of a fixed order of a vegetables.
- Jaana Hansman – production of fermented kimchi with different flavors.
- Kaire Rajaver – her startup Nordtempeh specializes in the production of tempeh produced from yellow pea (a fermented legume product), which is a nutrient-rich, easily digestible and an environmentally friendly alternative to meat products.
- Kristi Kuusmik-Orav – her team developed unique superfood – Supernacs – a healthy, nutrient-rich and salty finger food consisting of sprouts, seeds, vegetables and spices to be used as a quick healthy snack.
- Liis Tuur – her startup Kosknatural produces alcohol-free bitters aimed to reduce alcohol consumption and save healthcare costs while valuing Nordic nature through the use of natural products in products.
- Maarja Mathias – her startup Foodinspect has focused primarily on raising awareness about the food safety issues in small and medium-sized enterprises, taking into account all EU directives. Development of food safety systems, design corresponding to product and institution standards, international import and export are topics that allow them to enter new markets.
- Mariliis Mia Topp – her startup RawEdge has developed a fermentation technology that results in ultra-low-calorie products with a unique taste and nutritional value, containing lactic acid bacteria.
- Marianne Kosenkranius – an online web platform was developed as part of the program, which allows school cooks access to healthy and sustainable recipes.
- Sirli Rosenvald – her startup Funki wants to bring to the market foods based on filamentous fungi, which are tasty, healthy and environmentally friendly alternatives to meat products.
The winners of the EWA programme in Estonia were selected after summarizing the points received from the jury and the personal progress score assessed by their mentors. In a very tough competition, the two winners were determined:
- Kaire Rajaver (Nordtempeh) –winner of the EWA programme and recipient of €10,000 financial support for the further development of her business idea.
- Kristi Kuusmik-Orav (Supernacs) – winner of €5,000 financial support for the further development of her business idea.
We are also very proud about Sirli Rosenvald (Funki) who was chosen to represent Estonia at the EWA final event “Women in Agrifood Summit 2023” (https://womeninagrifoodsummit2023.eu) to be held in Vilnius on December 1.
All ten women who participated in the 1st edition of EWA programme in Estonia will definitely continue their path as entrepreneurs, and as the implementers of the EWA programme, we believe that the knowledge and contacts gained from this programme will give more momentum in moving towards new goals. As the local Hub of EIT Food, we will definitely continue to be in contact with all participants to inform them about the various programs and funding opportunities targeted to startups.
Mis on EIT Food?
EIT Food is the world’s largest and most dynamic food innovation community. We accelerate innovation to build a future-fit food system that produces healthy and sustainable food for all.
Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, we invest in projects, organisations and individuals that share our goals and vision for a healthy and sustainable food system. We unlock innovation potential in businesses and universities and create and scale agrifood startups to bring new technologies and products to market. We equip entrepreneurs and professionals with the skills needed to transform the food system and put consumers at the heart of our work, helping build trust by reconnecting them to the origins of their food.
We are one of nine innovation communities established by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.