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Food Innovation, Urban Agritech and Logistics take centrestage on Day 2 of TechInnovation

· TechInnovation,Event Highlights

Day Two of TechInnovation 2018 shone the spotlight on growing needs of the food and logistics industry. In his welcome speech, Enterprise Singapore Chief Executive Officer Png Cheong Boon highlighted how businesses need to innovate to better compete in the global market. Even those in traditional sectors such as agriculture are embracing innovation.

“In resource-scarce Singapore, many of our urban farmers are building vertical farms and moving towards closed-loop farming. Manufacturers are innovating to meet rising consumer demands for functional and healthy food,” said Png.

Png cited Protenga as an example. Protenga is an agritech start-up that makes insect-based protein for fish and animal feed out of black soldier fly larvae (BSF). BSF larvae are used among closed-loop farming communities as they break down food waste much quicker than other organisms, making the composting process a lot faster.

Protenga partnered with the National University of Singapore to improve the genetics of the insect, which will enhance the performance of its waste-to-protein conversion.

Founder of Protenga Leo Wein was also one of the exhibitors soliciting collaborations at the Urban Agritech Crowdpitching sessions. “We have developed a tech-enabled farming system that lets us grow insects very fast and under controlled environments. As part of this system, we also developed a data and software-layer that helps to control process and product consistency, as well as cost,” said Wein.

Protenga uses the insect-based protein and oils mainly to produce feed for fish, livestock and pets as well as organic fertilizer. Existing animal feed relies on unsustainable and increasingly expensive protein sources, such as fishmeal or GMO soymeal. The feed’s protein source is often untraceable, and fish stocks are already under stress from overfishing and competition with human consumption. With Protenga, farmers can easily trace back the source of the protein. It is also a sustainable as it uses only larvae from the black soldier fly grown on local, low-value plant-based feed stocks.

“We are working towards scaling our production and are interested in local and regional partnerships to build our distributed production network. We are also looking for more farms to bring fresh fish, shrimp, eggs, chicken etc. with Protenga's 'insects-inside' to local consumer markets as well as technology partners to co-develop new value-added downstream products from our insects,” said Wein.

Plant-based nutrition the key to better health.

Global plant based-ingredient company, Roquette is scaling up significantly the supply of alternative protein from the humble pea in the near future.

Roquette’s NUTRALYS® Pea Protein is a form of vegetal protein produced from peas and currently manufactured in its plant in France and in the near future, Canada. The French MNC and family-owned Roquette has more than 80 years of experience in developing plant-based ingredients and 40 years’ experience in the research and production of vegetal proteins for Food, Nutrition and Health markets.

“We turn plants into ingredients that most of you will consume on an everyday basis but have no idea a Roquette manufacturing site has a part in making that particular product,” said Rod Quin, Vice President of the Food Business at Roquette, as he addressed the audience at Day 2’s Food Innovation track.

“When you take the pea or a grain, or a seed, and you gently pull it apart, you will find that it is made of proteins, starches, lipids and fibre...Our protein from peas is clean-label, allergen-free, lactose-free and GMO-free aside from having excellent digestibility and high protein content,” said Quin.

He noted that pea protein, combined with other types of plant-based protein, will have sufficient amino acid and nutrient levels to rival that of eggs, dairy and meat.

Quin said demand for plant-based protein is here to stay, as consumers are more concerned of the environmental, ethical and health impacts brought on by commercial animal farming.

Organisations need to fully embrace analytics and big data, right down to the individual employee

The global logistics industry is heavily reliant on data as it tracks millions of shipments on any given day. Logistics providers have to engage data analytics and predictive forecasting as they try to boost efficiencies in deliveries, manpower, and above all, cost.

Bill Lee, Managing Partner of data analytics company Azendian Solutions, said at TechInnovation’s Logistics Innovation track that the first rule of applying analytics is to ensure that the entire company is onboard.

Analytics is not a run-of-the-mill information technology project, a view that most executive managements hold. Instead, it requires an organisational transformation. The digitalisation process, which is the successful implementation of technologies into workflows, is key to effective analytics, said Lee.

“Very little of the tough decisions companies have to make when it comes to analytics is from the technology or know-how,” said Lee.

“Most of the tough decisions come from changing policy, mindsets, framework and governance. The objective is to influence a business so that it will make more money and at the same time, save on costs,” he continued.

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