Venture capitalists eye Vitafoods for nutrition start-up buys


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NCN: "presenters have access to a motivated group well versed in their industry.”
NCN: "presenters have access to a motivated group well versed in their industry.”

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Nutrition Capital Network (NPN) will return to Vitafoods in Geneva in May with a fresh mission to connect innovative SMEs with potential investors like DSM, Seventure and Tate & Lyle Ventures.

NCN will host a meeting the day before Vitafoods officially begins on Monday May 4 at the PalExpo convention centre. Other potential investors include Abbott Labs, Herbalife and Kerry Group.

The ‘matchmaking’ format works by start-ups making short presentations of their business plans which are followed up with one-on-one meetings with potential investors who have also seen short summaries of the firms’ activities in advance.

Since 2007 San Diego-based NPN has exposed around 360 SMEs to venture capitalists looking to invest in companies with unique propositions in the nutrition space. 190 of them had received a cash injection of some kind.

Most of that business has been done in the US but NPN visited Vitafoods for the first time last year​ and NPN chief Grant Ferrier said the show exposure had been positive.

“With few such investment networking events available in Europe, NCN's collegial approach to networking and connecting investors with companies was warmly received at its first European investor meeting last year, and we are looking forward to hosting our second European meeting immediately prior to the 2015 Vitafoods tradeshow,”​ said Ferrier.

Europe has been cast as a less innovative zone to do business in recent years as tight regulations and a flat economy have hit ard compared to regions like the US or Asia, but the culture of food innovation remains strong and start-ups, universities, EU projects and big players continue to invest heavily in R&D.

Food Vision activity


NPN’s presence at Vitafoods reflects that fact. At this month’s Food Vision ​congress in Cannes, Seventure’s Dr Michel Mollard, MD, said his firm possessed a €120m kitty that could be spent on nutrition-biotek start-ups.

The fund is paid into by large French ingredient and food companies including Danone and Tereos. Dr Mollard connected with several firms at the event.

Eric de la Fortelle -seventure
VC Eric de la Foretell at Probiota in February

Similarly Seventure's Eric de la Foretell and other venture capitalists were scouting Probiota​ in February.

Of his own venture Ferrier added:“With investors from the world’s leading food, pharma, consumer product and ingredient companies, in addition to private equity and venture firms focused on health and wellness, NCN presenters have access to a motivated group well versed in their industry.”

The deadline to present at the NPN event​ is March 31. Successful applicants are privy to pre-event coaching from NPN.

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