HKScan Estonia AS started collaboration with Ajujaht
Estonia’s largest food industry company, HKScan Estonia AS, partnered with the popular Ajujaht competition to support the development processes of startups and provide them with the best platform for launching along with supportive mentoring. “As the largest food producer, we at HKScan, work every day to lead the future of the food industry sustainably while also introducing more environmentally friendly solutions to the market,” says Janne Laik-Lõhmus, HKScan’s Director of Product Development and Marketing for the Baltics, as well as a mentor for the startup FUNKI.
The list of cooperation opportunities between HKScan and Ajujaht are diverse. “We are a valuable partner in sharing know-how related to product/service sales and marketing, pricing, scaling their service/product for mass production, building networks of collaborators and clients, etc.,” shared Janne. She explained that HKScan realizes its ecological footprint, and new investment decisions are based on a sustainability strategy. Initiatives related to key trends such as future food, reducing food waste, and environmental sustainability (e.g., packaging solutions) are strongly supported.
“When speaking of the future of food, we emphasize new alternative sources of protein and other innovative products that will enrich our future diet and lay the foundation for sustainable and diverse nutrition. In terms of reducing food waste, we can highlight the valorization of food waste, its timely consumption and handling, as well as new technologies and packaging solutions that extend shelf life while being environmentally friendly. We work every day to reduce all possible harm to the environment and invent new ways to operate more sustainably. Therefore, I see that joining forces with Ajujaht clearly adds value to both us and the participants in the Ajujaht program, as there are several teams in this year working on the mentioned trends,” she says.
She notes that large corporations should seek opportunities to collaborate with startups, as it provides a clear opportunity to gather ideas and find additional expertise for the continued development of the larger company. “Startups often have a fresh and exciting perspective that they have built passionately over time. If this venture resonates with a large corporation, a practical outcome is to collaborate and jointly build this competence within the corporation – so that the startup can quickly take off with its idea, and the large corporation can also move forward with its responsible activities. A win-win situation,” highlights Janne the aspects that are beneficial to both parties in collaboration.
Speaking about being a mentor for FUNKI, Laik-Lõhmus notes that FUNKI’s activities and concept immediately appealed to her. “I have been asked about the introduction of mycoprotein before. I see strong potential for this protein source to enter our diet, but this topic is still in the beginning, and there is a long and interesting journey ahead, especially in terms of ensuring a sustainable supply of raw materials and educating consumers. I believe that working together can go a long way,” she says. Janne also adds that she has been following Ajujaht since its early years and even participated as a jury member in 2020. “Being a jury member gave me a valuable overview and understanding of how startups with high professionalism are supported, and what significant strides active projects make during this program. In that season, the winner was Pagerr, whom I had the honor to mentor,” she shares her previous collaboration experience.
Ajujaht program manager Harri Tallinn explained that joining HKScan Estonia, the largest food industry and agricultural company in Estonia, as a supporter and mentor of Ajujaht is excellent news for this year’s teams. “HKScan Estonia is a trailblazer in the food industry, with a rich experience and a broad scope of support, possessing knowledge of both the local and international markets. Additionally, they offer a valuable contact network, creating exciting opportunities and collaboration ways for this year’s teams, who also include innovative companies in the food industry and startups focused on environmental sustainability and recycling,” said Tallinn. He added that often new solutions and real success stories emerge when the right people from different sectors come together.