Turning Paris-Saclay into an Agri-Food hub
AgroParisTech INRAE’s ambition is to reinforce its leadership regarding the Agri-Food sector at Paris-Saclay. By drawing on its pool of researchers and professors, as well as its students who often go on to start their own companies or work with companies on the urban campus, AgroParisTech INRAE hopes to bring together a wide range of industry players through thematic exchanges and transversal activities. In this way, AgroParisTech INRAE intends to transform Paris-Saclay into a veritable hub for the Agri-Food industry, a roadmap that combines the region’s rich agricultural heritage with the entities present on campus: the Paris-Saclay Playground, IncubAlliance, Genopole and other higher education and research institutions.
Tackling today’s biggest challenges in food…
From this strategic location, AgroParisTech INRAE is ideally positioned to address every major topic in food today. This includes using alternative proteins from grains, algae, insects or fermentation to make up for the fact that there are not enough animal proteins to feed everyone. It also means rethinking food packaging solutions to reduce materials and make the industry more sustainable, creating personalized nutrition plans for seniors and infants, as well as promoting circular economy principles to recover byproducts and wastes from traditional production circuits.
…as well as agriculture
On the agriculture side, AgroParisTech INRAE has created the H@rvest Chair to lead research into the question of how digital technology and artificial intelligence can contribute to agriculture. It also runs the Farm’InnLab, located in the experimental farm in Grignon, where they are, for example, using cameras to determine when animals need care and testing out AI’s ability to help repel birds in the fields. In addition, it is also seeking out more sustainable practices through agro-ecology, which includes practices like optimizing watering and using fewer phytosanitary products. Also in the field of sustainability, some AgroParisTech INRAE researchers work on climate issues with the IPCC, while the the experimental farm in Grignon is testing a self-sufficient bioenergy system, including biogas.
Our strength lies combining in our expertise in the upstream value chain with the strengths of downstream players at Paris-Saclay. In this way, we serve as the linchpin from farm to table on the Paris-Saclay campus.
Dr. Grégoire Burgé, Deputy Director of Research, Innovation and Technology Transfer
Developing unique innovation
As a counterpart to the Farm’InnLab, the Food’InnLab provides students, startups and researchers with the scientific and technical support they need to validate an idea or proof of concept. Since 2017, it has supported 45 startups, such as Circul’Egg, which recycles eggshells for use in other industries, Umiami, which creates the world’s first plant-based whole-cuts or Yeasty, which valorizes unused yeast from beer producers to produce a protein-rich super-ingredient. Research at the Food’InnLab can soon be tested at one experimental restaurant and then produced at near-industrial scale at the AgroParisTech INRAE technology hall which offers the space and equipment needed to produce initial batches of several hundred liters or kilos.
Collaborating to move the industry forward
All these tools make AgroParisTech INRAE a crossroads for students and researchers eager to test their ideas directly with industrial companies and startups. In fact, many of its research projects have led to the creation of startups that later receive support from SATT Paris-Saclay during the maturation phase. For example, Standing Ovation, which produces synthetic milk proteins to make vegan cheese, participated in the Food’InnLab program and is now partnering with the cheese giant Bel. To expand on this dynamic going forward, AgroParisTech INRAE has partnered with CentraleSupélec on its 21st acceleration program, which helps startups involved with ecosystem regeneration to scale up and reach market. More innovations are sure to come!