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Food Tech Studio — Bites! April Event Highlights

Scrum Studio’s global open innovation program “Food Tech Studio — Bites! (FTS–B!)” — designed late last year to nurture food entrepreneurs and connect them with Japan’s leading corporations and industry thought-leaders — proudly showcased its progress to date during an event in April.

See the event highlights here:

Despite the ongoing challenges posed by Covid-19 restrictions, our program partners and participants spent the first three months of this year collaborating over new concepts, resources and initiatives in efforts that expand Japan’s role in creating a “new food” industry alongside global startups. After helping to foster many unique relationships with some of our major partner companies, including East Japan Railway Company (JR East), Fuji Oil Group, Nissin Foods Group, Kagome and ITO EN , FTS–B! sought to share the initial findings and learnings established in this first phase of the program.

FTS–B! is proud to have facilitated what is expected to be enduring relationships that will spark the innovation needed to reshape our food systems and enable the food value chain to flourish sustainably.

The program benefits more than 80 food tech startups and our municipal partners include the local governments of Kaga City, Kobe City and Niigata City. Please see here for a full list of our corporate and strategic partners and mentors.

“Sometimes people have the misconception that large Japanese companies are not good at collaborating with startups,” said Scrum Ventures Partner Hitoshi Hokamura. “But Scrum Studio’s programs facilitate collaboration well….We are excited about this unprecedented initiative and Japan’s role in the rapidly evolving and expanding global food tech scene.”

Collaboration Highlights

FTS–B! has recognized U.S. startup Yo-Kai Express (YKE) — an inventor of autonomous restaurant technology — as a stand-out among its studio participants. Following a series of business matching meetings with program partners such as JR East, Japan’s largest railway company, YKE Japan announced its new Tokyo headquarters plan. The new office will be located at Kimchi, Durian, Cardamom,,, (K, D, C,,,), a JR East facility developed as a food-tech coworking space with shared concept kitchens and dining hall demo workspaces. K, D, C,,, is designed to support a smooth entry into the Japanese market, which has traditionally been challenging for overseas food tech startups. The partnership with YKE, the maker of a robotic ramen vending machine, is the first milestone of its kind.

“We’re excited not only to grow during these challenging times but to find so many outstanding business partners through Food Tech Studio — Bites! who share our vision of creating a unique Yo-Kai ecosystem,” said company founder and CEO Andy Lin. “We’re honored to be the first U.S. food tech company at K,D,C,,, and pleased to be uniting small businesses with large corporations in Japan as well as help modernize dining habits, save resources and reduce food waste with our platform.”

In cooperation with several FTS– B! partners such as Fuji Oil, YKE received soy-derived protein materials and technical cooperation to be able to debut vegan menu items in the future.

During the event, Fujicco and Fuji Oil also announced new menu items, such as low carb Paella using Fujicco’s soybean rice, or Chilindron with Fuji Oil’s soy meat, to be jointly developed with Chef Matsunaga of Moriumias, which started serving guests at K,D,C,,,.

Paella with Fujicco’s soybean rice

IXON Food Technology(Hong Kong)

During the event, IXON Co-founder Felix Cheung explained the work of the visionary food scientists, engineers and packaging specialists at his firm. Their patent pending advanced sous-vide aseptic packaging (ASAP) technology has the potential to greatly reduce food waste by safely extending the shelf life of fresh food, including partially cooked meats, at room temperature for up to two years.

“To be honest (hearing about the technology), I was very surprised. We can expect the possibility of expanding its use to space and desert environments where it’s difficult to distribute raw foods,” said Yuko Ohno of House Foods Group.

AlgaleX(Japan)

Food tech startup Algale X is another firm that worked with partners to discuss utilization of its technology, which can greatly reduce the time it takes to treat and process palm waste oil from the typical average of 30–40 days down to as few as two days. The firm’s technology tackles the challenges of manufacturing that includes costly waste water management and environmental sustainability. Its technology can additionally derive beneficial nutrients from food factory waste including, DHA, an omega-3 fat.

Masumi Matsumoto of ITO EN described being impressed with the technology noting that ITO EN discharges a large amount of tea grounds in its brewing process. “We find these efforts to create value from waste are fascinating,” he said.

A Few Partner Messages

East Japan Railway (JREast)

“We are excited to use K, D, C ,,, as a test market for new food innovation and businesses born from the knowledge and know-how of leading companies,” said Teruyuki Omote, a JR East deputy general manager. “Our goal is to make the best use of the assets of the JR East Group, such as the Yamanote Line, Ekinaka stores, and JRE MALL … to provide a place for new challenges.”

Mitsubishi Chemical, Co., Ltd.,

“This program makes use of the combination of various products and technologies unique to comprehensive chemistry. We have been working with the people who participated in the event to create new solutions and value through open innovation so that we can grow sustainably ourselves,” said Tomomi Sano of Mitsubishi Chemical, which provides food-related products and services, such as food packaging materials.

Watch highlights from the FTS–B! event here.

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