Argentines hit it with a great idea: they created a product so that fruits and vegetables do not rot

Argentines hit it with a great idea: they created a product so that fruits and vegetables do not rot

Nat4Bio is a startup Argentina that proposes a solution of edible and residue-free coatings to protect fruits and vegetables from deterioration and putrefaction. Of all the natural coating alternatives that exist for the postharvest stage worldwide, it is the only one that uses microbial fermentation to produce its main compounds.

The entrepreneurship arises from the meeting between the entrepreneur Joaquín Fisch and the scientists Leandro Sánchez and Julia Fariña. Fisch is from Corrientes, but has lived in Rosario since 2011. He moved there to study Industrial Engineering. Once received, he went through the steel industry and the insurance business. In the pandemic, he began to search new opportunities.

During that search, Fisch connected with Grid Exponential (GRIDX), an investment fund focused on incubation. “They have an initiative, where they put scientists in contact with people who want to start a business. I participated in a 48 hour challenge, where they gave you a scientific concept and you had to propose a technology that would solve a problem. The idea was to set up a company. I went to a second stage and the idea was to “match” with a scientific team, “says Fisch. In this process, in August 2021, the entrepreneur met Leandro Sánchez and Julia Fariña, who are his partners today.

Sánchez is a biotechnologist, PhD in Biological Sciences and a Conicet researcher. He has 15 years of experience in the analysis and study of microbes, especially bacteria that produce antimicrobials. Fariña, meanwhile, has a PhD in biochemistry and is also a Conicet researcher. She is dedicated to working with fungal products.

Resign to dedicate yourself fully to the startup

In December 2021, Fisch resigned from his job as a dependency to dedicate himself full time to the company. In that month, the team of partners made the final pitch to the GRIDX Investment Committee and the investment arrived in the first months of 2022.

“In parallel, in December 2021, we began conversations with IndieBio, which is the biotechnology acceleration program, which is part of the SOSV portfolio, a venture capital investment fund. In mid-January they made us an offer to be part of the program and also receive an investment,” says Fisch. Between the two funds they had $725,000.

The startup currently has a team of 7 people and uses a laboratory in Tucumán

In July 2022, the entrepreneurs began hiring people and looking for a laboratory to accelerate the company. Today they have a team of seven people and they made an agreement with a Conicet institute to use a laboratory in Tucumán.

A biotechnology startup applied to agriculture

“Us we developed a biotechnology startup applied to agriculture and created biological control solutions based on microbial fermentation. Today we are focused on a post harvest product of fruits and vegetables,” explains Fisch.

The product for fruits and vegetables is liquid, completely edible, innocuous, and has the property of forming films. It can be applied as a rain or spray at the packing stage, after harvest.

The film has two major objectives: on the one hand, makes fruits last longer, in adequate organoleptic conditions, maintaining humidity, reducing desiccation, controlling the respiration rate of the fruit, and making it ripen more slowly; and on the other hand, it has the function of being the matrix that supports natural antimicrobials

“In this way, we have a formulation that provides the functions of a wax and a fungicide in a single application and with products that are of totally biological origin. The product is made up of two main compounds: a glucose-based biopolymer, that is produced by a fungus and natural antimicrobials,” says Fisch.

In December 2022, the startup was recognized for the global entrepreneurship challenge Santander X Global Challenge Food for the Future. More than 300 startups and scaleups from 11 countries have participated in this challenge whose objective was to help alleviate the global food shortage, promote sustainable eating and innovate in the processes of the food industry.

The product for fruits and vegetables is liquid, completely edible, innocuous, and has the property of forming films.

“We see a need for the industry to have a biological tool that allows the ripening process to be delayed, but without completely deactivating it, which is what some current synthetic solutions do. For example, today, there are 500,000 tons of fresh pears that are exported to the main markets of the world and they need a solution like ours,” says Fisch.

The product advanced with citrus and pears. Then they will continue with blueberries, avocados, mangoes and green lime. In addition to registering the product in Argentina, the intention is to advance in the regulatory process in the United States and Europe. “Product approval is required both at origin and destination,” concludes Fisch in this regard.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *