Tesco and WWF have today announced the five start-ups that have won funding and the chance to test and scale their innovation in Tesco’s supply chain to help cut the environmental impact of the average shopping basket and support a resilient and sustainable UK food system.

Innovation Connections is a new accelerator programme created by Tesco and WWF which pairs pioneering start-ups with Tesco suppliers to fast-track innovation in the supply chain. In the final on 6 May, a group of finalists pitched head-to-head in front of a panel of experts from Tesco and WWF, with five exciting projects each awarded funding of up to £150,000.

The five Innovation Connections winners are:

  • AgriSound & AM Fresh (Tesco fruit supplier) – technology that uses bioacoustics to monitor pollinators and pest levels on farm to help farmers protect biodiversity and increase produce yields.
  • Chirrup.ai & Hilton (Tesco meat and fish supplier) – a monitoring system that uses birdsong as a science-based biodiversity indicator in grassland farming.
  • CCm, Andermatt, Farm Carbon Toolkit & Branston (Tesco potato supplier) – a demonstration of low carbon fertilisers to reduce the carbon footprint of potato production.
  • Farm Carbon Toolkit & Produce World (Tesco produce supplier) – advanced carbon footprint software for horticultural growers to analyse and reduce their emissions and increase carbon sequestration on farm, whilst also identifying cost savings and efficiencies.
  • Future by Insects & Hilton (Tesco meat and fish supplier) – creation of circular fish feed using food waste to grow microalgae to feed fish.

Subject to a detailed project proposal and funding agreement being finalised, the winning projects will now see their innovations trialled in the Tesco supply chain. Tesco and WWF hope these pilots will help to scale up new ideas and technology and help them to become more widely adopted in food supply chains.

Giles Bolton, Responsible Sourcing Director at Tesco, and judging panel member said:

“To create a food system that provides healthy, sustainable and affordable food for all, the whole sector needs to find ways to innovate fast. The quality of the joint pitches at our Innovation Connections event was extremely high and showed the breadth of innovation that is already going on in our food system. We’re delighted to be announcing five worthy winners and seeing the impact they can make by supporting them to scale up in our supply chain.” 

David Edwards, Director of Food Strategy at WWF and also on the judging panel, said:

“In a climate and nature crisis, we urgently need to find more sustainable ways to grow enough affordable food for everyone. The winning projects represent huge potential to help create a food system that restores nature and protects our climate. We look forward to seeing the results of the pilots and hope they will demonstrate how innovative ideas can be scaled up to make a positive impact in the supply chain.”

Tesco is also calling on the UK government to do more to unlock innovation in food supply chains. That includes asking the Government to set out timelines for updating outdated regulations that hinder the scaling up of late-stage innovations such as insect protein in animal feed or sustainable low-carbon fertilisers, and to create incentives for businesses and consumers who are early adopters of new food system innovations.

Winners’ quotes: 

Pawel Kisielewski – Chief Executive Officer, CCm:

“We’re delighted our joint pitch with Branston was chosen as one of the winners of this initiative. Our industry-leading technology is a real game changer for the retail sector, and our partnership with Branston could mean in the future Tesco shoppers up and down the country will have access to products with a significantly lower carbon footprint, that helps the environment without changing their behaviour.”

Casey Woodward – Founder and Chief Executive, Agrisound Limited:

“It’s really exciting to be working with Tesco and WWF. Our technology will be introduced into the Tesco fruit supply chain to help growers encourage pollinators to the right areas and at the right time – boosting fruit yields without the need for additional fertilisers or pesticides. We are looking forward to showcasing the technology to the wider Tesco supplier base and helping farm businesses to streamline biodiversity monitoring.” 

Evelyn Peters, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Future by Insects:

“We are delighted to receive support that validates our model of future food sustainability using an integrated approach of carbon sequestration and insect farming”

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