REM Analytics: Uncovering new applications in microbiome, certification and food safety

REM Analytics: Uncovering new applications in microbiome, certification and food safety

A science is only as good as its measurement tools. Based in Monthey (Canton of Valais), REM Analytics offers solutions for measuring genetic composition in mixed DNA samples. 

DNA analysis, particularly when applied in microbiome, has the potential to provide breakthrough solutions in countless industries. Swiss startup REM Analytics is looking at microorganisms through the lens of DNA to uncover new opportunities in personalised nutrition, precision medicine, food authenticity, agriculture and more.

We sat down with founder and CEO, Dr. Paulo Refinetti, to ask three questions about what they’re working on.

SFNV: What’s the founding story behind REM Analytics; and what made you pick this specific field of innovation?


Dr. Paulo Refinetti: REM Analytics started as a company at the end of my doctoral research project at EPFL with co- founders Prof. Stephan Morgenthaler, Dr. Anna Surowska and Dr. Per Ekstrom in 2017, but the underlying inspiration comes from the work done in the 1980’s by our friend and mentor Prof. William Thilly on Cycling Temperature Capillary Electrophoresis (CTCE).

 

I am a statistician, and during my PhD I was attempting to model cancer and tumour growth in humans. This was difficult, but the problem was not in the modelling or statistics the project involved; the challenge came from the lack of sufficiently accurate data. It was at this point that I realised that the measurement tools we use in life science do not provide us with the quality data we require, and this is the limiting factor on much of scientific progress. My PhD supervisor and co-founder, Prof. Morgenthaler, introduced me to the work of Prof. Thilly on CTCE, which is a method for detecting, characterizing and quantifying variations in genetic sequences using mutational spectroscopy. This realization that we can find genetic mutations struck me as something very powerful, and I was convinced that CTCE could become the measurement tool that was missing in biotech. At this point the idea and technology was raw, so I worked with Stephan and Per on enhancing CTCE with bioinformatics and robust mathematical models, and with Anna on putting all the pieces of the ‘business puzzle’ together to launch our technology as a company.

The result is REM Analytics. CTCE, following all our innovations and improvements, became what we like to call Advanced Testing for Genetic Composition (ATGC). ATGC is the DNA-analysis platform REM Analytics is based on, and it provides the most advanced method of genetic analysis available.

 

Tell us more about the solution you’re developing: at what stage of product development are you?

P. R : DNA analysis, particularly when applied in microbiome, has the potential to provide breakthrough solutions in countless industries. If we start looking at organisms or microorganisms through the lens of DNA, there are opportunities to offer new solutions in personalised nutrition, precision medicine, skincare, food authenticity, bioprocess management or even agriculture. The exciting thing is that these fields of research are still largely unknown and undiscovered. This genetic information available to companies in pharmaceuticals, food, agriculture and cosmetics is a valuable strategic asset. By fully leveraging this information, leading companies can gain a competitive edge while maximising the success, efficiency and NPV of their R&D projects. REM Analytics’ provides an end-to-end research & development service to do just that. We translate raw biological samples into actionable data that is user-friendly for research teams.

Our research and development service is unique due to the capabilities of ATGC, our proprietary genetic measurement platform. ATGC does not use sequencing and thus can achieve a high- throughput, strain-level resolution and unrivalled quantitative accuracy. It is also highly versatile, allowing us to customize the analysis to your specific questions. Providing solutions always begins with us listening. We extensively discuss with our partners to understand their objectives and challenges and we tailor our analysis accordingly. Then we run the customized analysis from our fully operation labs in Monthey, Switzerland.  

 

What’s coming next for REM Analytics ? 

P.R : Our main focus over the coming months will be to successfully complete the series of projects we are currently running with various partners. These projects have been a great opportunity for us to really adapt our technology and experience to diverse fields of application, and fine-tune small features of our analytical platform, notably the IT back-end. We are also looking forward to meeting and discussing with leading, innovation-driven companies and institutions who are seeking to improve their R&D efficiency and integrate cutting-edge biotechnology to differentiate and prove the efficacy of their products.

Over the long-term, the vision is to scale our capabilities, by developing more core technologies that can be deployed to other domains of life sciences. These would be developed as our own solutions and would be spin-offs of our model and technology.

 

Find out more:

REM Analytics is located in the BioArk in the Swiss canton of Valais, a region with a long tradition in life sciences.

 

FOR TECHNOLOGY-RELATED INQUIRIES

contact Paulo Refinetti

FOR BUSINESS AND PARTNERSHIP INQUIRIES

contact Anna Surowska

 

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Firmenich joins the SFNV to accelerate sustainable food innovation

Firmenich joins the SFNV to accelerate sustainable food innovation

Firmenich, the world’s largest privately owned fragrance and taste company, has joined today the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley association.

Geneva, Switzerland, 23 November, 2020 – Firmenich, the world’s largest privately owned fragrance and taste company, is proud to announce that it has joined the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley (SFNV), a global reference in sustainable food and nutrition innovation. Founded in 2020 by Nestlé, EPFL, Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and the Swiss Canton of Vaud, SFNV provides a rich eco-system of expertise and cutting edge science to address the major global food and nutrition challenges of the future. Bérangère Magarinos Ruchat, Firmenich’s Chief Sustainability Officer has been appointed to the Executive Committee of the new network. 

SVFN’s mission is very much aligned with Firmenich’s Purpose to create positive emotions and enhance wellbeing,” Emmanuel Butstraen, Firmenich Flavors President, added. “We are proud to contribute to the organization’s key objectives through our understanding of the food ecosystem, innovation capabilities and expertise in protein alternatives, in order to advance global nutrition and food chain security.

Switzerland is home to a unique innovation ecosystem in food and nutrition and we are looking forward to further partnering with leading companies, start-ups, research institutes and public authorities to accelerate the future of foods,” said Magarinos-Ruchat. “Many sectors are involved in food and nutrition innovation in Switzerland, bringing them together under a shared vision will create global opportunities for sustainable food innovation”.

It is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome Firmenich in the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley,” said Martin Vetterli, President of EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. “The challenges that mankind faces in the coming decades with regard to food are significant, and with its deep-rooted tradition of sustainability and world-class research, Firmenich will thus undoubtedly bring a lot of value in our collective efforts.

Switzerland is anchored in agricultural tradition and has an unmatched density of world leading companies and scientific institutions, as well as a large number of start-ups in areas such as food, nutrition, and life sciences. The Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley stretches from Geneva to Zürich.

Bringing together key players, including local authorities, companies, universities and associations, the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley will focus on areas such as nutrition, life sciences, alternative proteins, packaging science, waste management and precision agriculture.

About Firmenich

Firmenich is the world’s largest privately-owned fragrance and taste company, founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1895 and has been family-owned for 125 years. Firmenich is a leading business-to-business company specialized in the research, creation, manufacture and sale of perfumes, flavors and ingredients.

Renowned for its world-class research and creativity, as well as its leadership in sustainability, Firmenich offers its customers superior innovation in formulation, a broad and high-quality palette of ingredients, and proprietary technologies including biotechnology, encapsulation, olfactory science and taste modulation. Firmenich had an annual turnover of 3.9 billion Swiss Francs at end June 2020. More information about Firmenich is available at www.firmenich.com

Renseignements


Tina Bille
Global Director of Communications Sustainability & Operations at Firmenich
Tina.Bille@firmenich.com

SVFN’s mission is very much aligned with Firmenich’s Purpose to create positive emotions and enhance wellbeing. 

We are proud to contribute to the organization’s key objectives through our understanding of the food ecosystem, innovation capabilities and expertise in protein alternatives, in order to advance global nutrition and food chain security.

Emmanuel Butstraen

Flavors President, Firmenich

Switzerland is home to a unique innovation ecosystem in food and nutrition and we are looking forward to further partnering with leading companies, start-ups, research institutes and public authorities to accelerate the future of foods.

Bérangère Magarinos-Ruchat

Chief Sustainability Officer, Firmenich

It is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome Firmenich in the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley. The challenges that mankind faces in the coming decades with regard to food are significant, and with its deep-rooted tradition of sustainability and world-class research, Firmenich will thus undoubtedly bring a lot of value in our collective efforts.

Martin Vetterli

President, EPFL

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Le Canton de Fribourg joins the SFNV.

Le Canton de Fribourg joins the SFNV.

The Canton of Fribourg has joined today the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley association, whose aim is to increase the international visibility and networking of the Swiss agri-food sector.

At today’s general assembly, the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley (SFNV) association welcomed the Canton of Fribourg as a new member. Together with the canton of Fribourg, Agroscope and the Food & Nutrition Cluster have also joined the association. Thanks to its proven skills in this sector, the Canton of Fribourg can make a significant contribution to the development of this network and help shape its future development. 

“Bioeconomy and the agrifood sector represents an essential pillar of the Fribourg economy. Becoming a member of the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley is moving in the direction of a development strategy for this sector beyond cantonal or even national borders.” adds Olivier Curty, Director of Economy and Employment at the State of Fribourg.

The SFNV is very happy to welcome the Canton of Fribourg as a member, a central player in the food industry in Switzerland, and an essential bridge between French-speaking and German-speaking Switzerland“, welcomes Christian Nils Schwab, President of the Executive Committee of the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley.

Fribourg: one of the most dynamic cantons in the agrifood sector

The canton of Fribourg aims to be a Swiss leader in the food industry and is characterized by an impressive density of food companies of national and international dimension. As a result, this sector has importance in terms of employment and an added value that greatly exceeds the Swiss average. The dynamism of the sector is also reflected in both private and public investments. Thus, the expansion of the Nespresso plant in Romont (with its center of excellence) represents an investment of 160 million francs and the creation of 300 jobs. Micarna has also just announced an investment in one of the most modern poultry processing plants in Europe with 500 jobs.

In addition, Fribourg, which already hosts the Food & Nutrition Cluster with nearly 90 members, will also host the NTN Innovation Booster “Next Generation of Food Ecosystems” from next year, a national network focused on nutrition, the circular economy and sustainable packaging.

The State of Fribourg, for its part, invests and continues to invest in the bioeconomy and its sites for agro-food innovation such as the AgriCo Campus in Saint-Aubin (FR), dedicated to the creation of value in the fields agriculture, nutrition and biomass. The Agricultural Institute of Grangeneuve is developing its competence center for raw milk, and thanks to the upcoming establishment of the new Agroscope headquarters, the number of employees of the Federal Institute will increase from 130 to 450 employees.

This ecosystem dedicated to the food industry also benefits from synergies with the University of Fribourg, the Swiss Integrative Center for Human Health (SICHH), the Swiss NanoAnalytics of the Adolphe Merklea Institute as well as the HES-SO.

This whole environment is particularly favourable to innovation, since it creates a permanent emulation between actors with varied expertises and backgrounds. The meeting between the rich agro-food traditions of our canton and companies at the forefront of research offers exceptional opportunities“, notes the State Councilor of Fribourg, Didier Castella, in charge of agriculture

International visibility thanks to the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley

With its membership, the canton of Fribourg will be able to strengthen the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley, on one hand thanks to its many skills as well as its function as a link between French-speaking and German-speaking Switzerland. On the other hand, Fribourg will benefit from the international influence of this young and dynamic network, founded in spring 2020 by the canton of Vaud, Nestlé, the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne and the EPF Lausanne.

State Councilor Olivier Curty: “We consider the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley to be complementary to the Food & Nutrition Cluster. The main objective of the cluster is to strengthen cooperation between the various regional and national actors in the food sector. The Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley, for its part, will make our skills and our wealth in the food sector visible at international level.

Renseignements

Olivier Curty, Conseiller d’Etat, Directeur de l’économie et de l’emploi, T +41 26 305 24 00

Jerry Krattiger, Directeur de la Promotion économique du canton de Fribourg, T +41 26 304 14 00

Fathi Derder, Directeur de la Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley, M +41 79 469 61 48

We consider the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley to be complementary to the Food & Nutrition Cluster. The main objective of the cluster is to strengthen cooperation between the various regional and national actors in the food sector. The Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley, for its part, will make our skills and our wealth in the food sector visible at international level.

Olivier Curty

Director of Economy and Employment, State of Fribourg

The SFNV is very happy to welcome the Canton of Fribourg as a member, a central player in the food industry in Switzerland, and an essential bridge between French-speaking and German-speaking Switzerland.

Christian Schwab

Chairman of the Executive Committee, Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley

This whole environment is particularly favourable to innovation, since it creates a permanent emulation between actors with varied expertises and backgrounds. The meeting between the rich agro-food traditions of our canton and companies at the forefront of research offers exceptional opportunities

Didier Castella

State Councilor of Fribourg for Agriculture

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Swiss urban agriculture solution “Légumes Perchés” amongst finalists of the best sustainable startup award organized by “Le Temps”

Swiss urban agriculture solution “Légumes Perchés” amongst finalists of the best sustainable startup award organized by “Le Temps”

Among the 87 candidates for the third edition of the sustainable start-up prize, organized by “Le Temps“, three finalists were selected by the jury. Readers and Internet users have a week to support one of them

About Légumes Perchés
More than an innovation, the Lausanne-based company markets a concept. The team of four who make it up installs market garden roofs, or “edible surfaces”. In short: local, urban and pesticide-free agriculture. Légumes Perchés also sets up associative or educational workshops, for example with nurseries or schools.

Learn more about Légumes Perchés

Growing Vegetables on the Moon

The team behind “Légumes Perchés” is also known for having worked on GrowBotHub: an EPFL-backed pilot that aims at creating a fully automated system to grow and harvest vegetables in extreme environments. The main focus of the pilot was to design an autonomous system that will minimize the required resources.

Learn more about GrowBotHub

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EIT Food launches search for the next 100 high-impact agrifood entrepreneurs

EIT Food launches search for the next 100 high-impact agrifood entrepreneurs

EIT Food, Europe’s leading food innovation initiative supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), today launches a search to find the next 100 agrifood entrepreneurs who can transform the food system to be healthier, innovative and more sustainable.

The search for the 2021 cohort, comes following news that EIT Food has provided more than €10 million in direct financial support across its Business Creation programmes in 2020. This support has helped entrepreneurs to grow and scale their impact faster – from help with market testing new ideas, providing access to experts, connections to corporate partners across the food industry, and support with investors. Last year, successful EIT Food startups raised more than €91 million in external investments as a result of the programme.

The food system faces major challenges if the world is to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and adhere to the Paris Agreement climate targets. Yet, less than 4% of startups in Europe are in the agrifood space, creating a huge market opportunity for innovators, investors and entrepreneurs alike.

From aspiring entrepreneurs with new business ideas across universities and education centres, to early stage startups and scaleups wanting to expand internationally, EIT Food is looking for ideas and businesses across European markets, designed to have the highest impact when shaping the future of food, and aligned with the European Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy. The search focuses on new ideas across six key focus areas; sustainable agriculture, sustainable aquaculture, alternative proteins, digital traceability, circular food systems and targeted nutrition.

In the first ever virtual EIT Food Venture Summit, on 17 and 18 November 2020, investors and corporates will be able to explore commercial partnerships and investment opportunities with 130+ high-impact startups and will hear pitches from a select group of some of EIT Food’s existing partners and entrepreneurs. Interested new startups will also have an opportunity to learn about flagship programmes and connect with other agritech leaders.

 

Our purpose at EIT Food is to create a culture across Europe for entrepreneurship to thrive. Only a spirit of entrepreneurship will help Europe to make the transformation we need, creating a food system fit for the future, that is healthy, sustainable, and meets the needs of a growing population.

Today we are calling for new ideas from experts, innovators and investors, right across the food system. We encourage anyone who has an idea or a business that can make a real difference, with potential to scale and grow, to apply for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Andy Zynga

CEO, EIT-Food

Many startups, already working with EIT Food, will be appearing at the Venture Summit to showcase their ideas and pitch to new investors.

Brij Sahi, Co-Founder and CEO of SwissDeCode, says: “EIT Food has enabled us to tap into some of the largest corporations in the world and to establish proof of concepts with them. This opportunity means we can directly engage with corporates and discuss on a one-to-one basis what we could do together.” 

Those that join the network benefit not only from easy-to-access funding and investment, but also access to world-leading agrifood entrepreneurs, corporates and partners, such as Pepsico, Danone, Nestlé and Cambridge University.

Damien Jourdan, Open Innovation Manager at Danone, comments: The EIT Food Seedbed program’s focus on customer discovery is really interesting and distinctive – startups need to understand whether they will have customers to buy their product. As a key partner in the network, we’re here to bring value and to help entrepreneurs grow their venture faster with our expertise.” 

Whether applicants join the EIT Food Seedbed programme as an early-stage startup looking to verify their proposition and market, the Food Accelerator Network to gain access to tools, connections and expertise, or the RisingFoodStars Association to scale and reach new markets, startups will gain support and mentorship as part of the vibrant and diverse EIT Food community. In order to generate new knowledge and technologies, and to drive the growth and competitiveness of the EU, these activities will all be measured against economic, societal and environmental impact.

Applications will open early next year and close in Spring 2021. Register your interest and find out more through this form.

Sign up to the Venture Summit via the EIT Food website to meet EIT Food’s entrepreneurs and partners.

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Kickoff Event: NTN Swiss Food Ecosystems

Kickoff Event: NTN Swiss Food Ecosystems

The jointly founded association “Suisse Agro Food Leadinghouse” by Swiss Food Research and the Cluster Food & Nutrition has been chosen by Innosuisse to take the lead of one of its 12 “NTN – Innovation Boosters – Swiss Food Ecosystems”.

Its thematic focus lies on technology-based next generation innovation in the field of :

  • Smart Nutrition
  • Biomass Valorization
  • Resource Efficiency
  • Circular Economy
  • Sustainable Packaging

but also on business model innovations, innovation culture or innovation methods.

The NTN – Innovation Booster provides direct funding to selected innovation teams for the development and testing of innovation ideas. This promotes an agile process with modern, collaborative methods like DesignThinking and Rapid Prototyping, which continuously improves the quality of ideas. In addition, collaborative learning through hackathons and idea-challenges exchange the experiences between the teams in a spirit of Open Innovation.

Through the Leading House, member companies can gain competitive advantages by collaborating with partners along the value chain and by incorporating the knowledge, competencies and technologies of the universities and research partners and generate disruptive and groundbreaking innovations.

Learn more about the NTN Innovation booster on www.innosuisse.ch.

Kickoff Event with the presentation of the instruments of the promotion portfolio is taking place for the 24 November 2020 on the conference platform veertly. 

This event is reserved for members or future members and partners of Swiss Food Research or Cluster Food&Nutrition.

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