The Start-Up Award: Top trail-blazing entrepreneurs

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

© RichVintage / Getty Images
© RichVintage / Getty Images

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Today’s start-ups and spin-outs could be the future major players of the industry, and NutraIngredients looks to celebrate the best new companies blazing a trail in the market.

The NutraIngredients Start-Up Award looks to reward game-changing companies which have been on the market for less than five years and are able to demonstrate sound scientific backing, commercial potential and the all important ‘X factor’—something that makes it stand out from the crowd.

So who made the cut for our 2024 awards?


Belgian gut health start-up BiOkuris launched in 2021 with a focus on identifying nutraceutical solutions for chronic intestinal diseases using insoluble fiber chitin-glucan in synergistic combination with other ingredients.

The team has developed a pipeline of products utilizing the Kiotransine chitin-glucan ingredient, a proprietary non-animal, non-GMO biopolymer extracted and purified from Aspergillus niger​, offers rigorously tested benefits from reducing pain and decreasing inflammatory lesions to impacting gut microbiota activity and composition​ to promoting health-beneficial short-chain fatty acid production and chelating toxins.

Gastrap is the company’s first commercially available product and mixes the core ingredient with simethicone to reduce excessive gas and bloating.

A second product combining a probiotic and vitamin D3, is currently in clinical testing for IBS​, and a third containing KiOtransine alone has been developed for “IBS-like symptoms” and is now being clinically assessed in IBD patients in remission​.

Finally, the team has created a chitosan product, which has demonstrated anti-fungal properties and is currently in pre-clinical stage to evaluate its efficacy in preventing recurrent vulvo vaginal infections.


Launched in February 2021, Israeli start-up Maolac aims to address two major consumer demands and public health concerns: inflammation and gut health.

By leveraging advanced AI technologies and protein intelligence, the team is developing bioactive ingredients that carry high bio-similarity to human breast milk, the gold standard of human nutrition. This innovative approach allows the company to address these health concerns effectively, fulfilling a significant consumer demand for natural, potent and targeted nutritional supplements.

Maolac’s first products, the Anti-Inflammatory and Gut Health formulations, are based on targeted bovine colostrum isolates. The Anti-Inflammatory formulation addresses inflammation-related ailments, offering a potent solution for efficient muscle recovery in athletes and for muscle and joint pains in older adults.

The Gut Health formulation, on the other hand, offers holistic protection for the gut system by reducing local inflammation and creating a healthy environment for gut flora to flourish.


On the market since 2021, Swiss start-up TravelSana aims to provide a one-stop-supplement shop for frequent flyers.

The brand’s Long-Haul and Daily Circulation products utilize pine tree extract Pycnogenol and antioxidants to enhance blood flow and lower travel-related circulatory discomforts. 

Daily Circulation contains Delphinol maqui berry, known for its strong antioxidant effects, to support vascular health and combat oxidative stress.

The Gut Protector utilizes the probiotic strain Lactobacillus Acidophilus,​ to maintain gut flora balance and support the immune system. 

The range also includes mind health focused products: Peak Power contains patented mango leaf extract Zynamite, designed to boost mental and physical stimulation; Stress Relief and Relax and Focus incorporate saffron, to benefit mood and mental function; and Sleep Well utilizes Passiflora incarnata​ to support quality sleep.

The products are available in both capsule and powder sachet form. The capsule design also includes red carrot dye to provide UV protection to the contents, and both the capsule and sachet packaging are tested in-house for water resistance.  

Winner reveal

The awards will be presented at a VIP party hosted by NutraIngredients in Geneva, Switzerland on May 15, recognizing leading initiatives and products across industry categories and celebrating the 10th​ anniversary of the awards.

“With a stellar line-up of competitors in this year’s finals, the team is exciting to celebrate our worthy finalists and winners as well as mark a huge milestone for the brand,” said Nikki Hancocks, editor of

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