11/21/2020, 1:00 p.m. No time right now?
Note: We have used commission links in this article and marked them with “*”. If an order is placed via these links, t3n.de receives a commission.
With a mixture of kitchen laboratory, coworking and accelerator, Kitchentown wants to stir up the food tech scene in Europe. Can it work? A visit to Berlin.
The view from the window of the conference room in Kitchentown sticks to the Berlin TV tower. The US foodtech incubator has opened its first location abroad just a few meters from the Alex. Where Mercedes-Benz Bank employees used to go to the canteen every day, there is now a food laboratory that extends over three floors and 1,000 square meters. Startups from all over Europe are supposed to work on the future of food here. But the timing couldn’t be worse for Kitchentown: The corona pandemic with its contact restrictions makes it difficult for any business model that lives from working together and personal exchange. And that just a few months after the start in November.
Food Accelerator: Visiting Kitchentown in Berlin
The future laboratory of Kitchentown extends over a total of 1,000 square meters over three floors. (Photo: Ole WItt)
Co-managing director Lukas Neuss seems very relaxed in the conversation: “The physical experience and the socializing suffer from it, of course, but it didn’t hit us that bad,” emphasizes the manager who previously worked for Bahlsen. The cookie maker is one of Kitchentown’s investors. “We rather hope that the crisis will drive the transformation in the previously less digitized food sector.” Because of Corona, the Accelerator has recently started offering “Remote Product Development” for which a fee of 99 euros per person per month is charged. Six startups have been using the offer since July.
Kitchentown is actually financed through a monthly membership fee for the use of office space, product development and test kitchen for the production of initial quantities. For this, the incubator calls up to 640 euros per person per month. In addition, Kitchentown is also trying to be an early-stage investor. In return for participating in a six-month accelerator program and initial funding of 30,000 euros, startups have to give up six percent of their company shares.
“We hope that the crisis will drive the digital transformation in the food sector.”
In the past weeks and months, another mainstay has opened up: the cooperation with already established companies that expect Kitchentown to provide tuition in innovation. The German manufacturer of aromas and flavors, Symrise, for example. “Symrise is relocating individual development projects to us in order to deal more intensively with agile work and rapid prototyping,” says Neuss, calling the approach collaborative innovation.
According to him, around 30 startups are currently using the membership model; four young companies took part in the first round of the accelerator program at the beginning of the year. If your products are supposed to give an indication of the future of food, this consists of vegan and sugar-free dessert alternatives, oat products and non-alcoholic distillates as a basis for cocktails and long drinks as well as powdered sticks for tap water. Kitchentown sees itself as a tech platform too. These products don’t sound like it. “We define technology more broadly. For us, this includes not only apps and software or hardware, but also bio and food technology ”, explains Neuss and adds:“ We want to teach startups from these areas the rules of the game in the food industry. ”