Spanish Foodtech Ecosystem Achieves €226 Million in 2023 Investments
December 21, 2023 - 7 min read
- Despite the sharp drop in global investment, the Spanish ecosystem is seeing a much more moderate slowdown, experiencing a 16% decline.
- Madrid, Catalonia, and Andalusia are the autonomous communities that concentrate the largest number of startups in the Spanish ecosystem, whose total census adds up to 420 startups specialized in this vertical.
- The Food Production and Processing category leads with 41%, experiencing an increase of 6% compared to the previous year.
- Furthermore, the Foodtech sector is emerging as one of the most attractive for female entrepreneurs, with 36% of the startups surveyed having a female partner on their team.
Madrid, December 21 — Eatable Adventures has presented the data from its annual study “The State of Foodtech in Spain 2023”. The Foodtech accelerator has presented the fourth edition of this report, which reflects the reality of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in this area and the evolution of the investment received throughout 2023.
The challenges linked to problems related to climate change, the exponential growth of the world’s population, and the increase in costs associated with food production continue to drive the development of new disruptive technological proposals that seek effective solutions to these challenges. In a global panorama affected by a deep crisis, the Spanish Foodtech ecosystem is positioned as one of the most dynamic, maintaining a census similar to last year, with 420 startups in 2023.
The Foodtech sector in Spain exhibits a notable geographical distribution with a presence in all the Autonomous Communities. Despite this dispersion, clear patterns are observed in entrepreneurs’ preferences for launching their projects. Madrid leads with 34.2%, experiencing an increase of 6.6 percentage points compared to the previous year. Catalonia continues in second place with 30.3%, reflecting an increase of 4.6 points. On the other hand, Andalusia registers a slight decrease of 2% with a total of 9.1%.
Food production and processing leads the way over other categories
In 2023, Spanish startups experienced changes in the distribution of categories. Agritech, which makes up 21% of the startups surveyed, experienced a decrease of 3%. On the other hand, the Food Production and Processing category leads with 41%, representing an increase of 6 percentage points compared to the previous year, driven by the growing demand for innovations in food production. The Retail and Logistics field (13%) has experienced a decrease of almost 12 percentage points compared to 2022. This change could indicate a redirection or reclassification of startups traditionally associated with distribution and logistics towards Delivery. The Restaurant Tech and Delivery sector (25%) shows continuous growth in technology related to restaurants and deliveries, absorbing part of the startups that were previously classified in the Retail and Logistics category.
When breaking down into subsectors, in the field of Agritech, the three main categories experienced a reduction, favoring segments such as robotics and water management, which showed slight growth, however, crop automation systems continue to be the preeminent area. Regarding Food Production and Processing, there is an increase of 10.5 percentage points in the creation of new products with innovative ingredients, which suggests that startups are responding to the growing market demand for more innovative foods. In the retail sector, there is a growth of almost 8 percentage points in smart labels, while new sales channels decrease in favor of the increase in analytical platforms. Regarding the Restaurant Tech sector, management platforms maintain their leadership, closely followed by online marketplaces and startups specialized in delivery.
The startups have small teams, a prominent female representation, and preserve their technology with trade secrets
When analyzing the composition of startup teams, the study indicates that they are characterized by smaller teams compared to the national average, with 60% of surveyed startups having a team of 1 to 5 employees. As for female representation, it is noteworthy that 36% of surveyed startups have a woman as a partner, a very positive figure considering the national average, which is only 18%.
The technological development of a startup is undoubtedly one of the most relevant aspects for its success. According to the study, 28% of surveyed startups have at least one patent, and 35% use trade secrets, representing a 5 percentage point increase from the previous year. Regarding the most used technologies, biotechnology stands out, experiencing significant growth since 2022.
Regarding technological maturity (TRL), it is highlighted that the majority of startups demonstrate a considerably high level of development, indicating a strong position in technological terms. Despite this success, the challenge arises to maintain constant innovation to remain relevant in a competitive and ever-evolving environment.
Slowdown in global investment: Spain emerges as one of the most resilient ecosystems
The current geopolitical context and the economic crisis have had significant repercussions, in terms of investment at a global level, in all sectors. Regarding Foodtech, global investment reached approximately 27.4 billion euros in 2022. When comparing the second quarter of 2022 with the same period in 2023, a drop of 61% is evident, falling from 5.9 billion dollars to 2.3 billion dollars.
In the Spanish context, a more encouraging scenario is seen despite a slight reduction in total investment. Spanish Foodtech startups managed to secure a total of 226 million euros in 2023, representing a decrease of only 16% compared to the previous year. However, this slight drop, much more moderate than the global slowdown trend, points to the strength and resilience of the ecosystem at the national level.
Regarding the investment phase of startups, stability is observed in the pre-seed and seed rounds, indicating the continued attraction of the sector for national and international investors. In 2023, startups in the seed phase were the majority, representing approximately 38.9%, followed closely by pre-seed phases, which constituted around 29%.
Among the main national investors, Capsa Vida stands out, which has supported baïa, entomo agroindustrial, GrinGrin, and nucaps; BeHappy Investments, which has opted for Harbest Market and Hunty; and Clave Capital, which has invested in Deep Detection and Groots. Eatable Adventures has consolidated its position as a prominent investor in Spain, supporting Bio2Coat, mmmico, and Néboda, all of them accelerated in the Spain Foodtech program. On the other hand, the Spanish ecosystem also continues to attract the attention of prominent international investors, such as ProVeg Incubator, North South Ventures, Big Idea Venture, and Bynd Venture Capital, among others.
When analyzing the most outstanding tools for growth, startups are aligned: learn from the best success stories, facilitate access to public aid, increase media visibility, establish “co-investment” agreements, and collaborate closely with the food industry.
“In the year 2023, the Spanish Foodtech ecosystem has overcome critical challenges, facing the repercussions of the global economic crisis. Despite the slight slowdown in total investment, this period has marked a crucial milestone for the sector. We have not only witnessed the resilience of our ecosystem but also the consolidation and market launch of disruptive technologies, as has been the case of the arrival to the Retail channel of the first 3D bio-printed vegetable bacon by Cocuus and Foody’s. This achievement highlights the technological robustness of Spain, reaffirming its prominent position in the international Foodtech field,” commented Mila Valcárcel, Managing Partner of Eatable Adventures.
To continue consolidating Spain’s strategic role in the Foodtech panorama, however, a greater drive in investment and more strategic collaboration between all the key agents of the food system is needed: “If we want to be truly competitive against the most developed international ecosystems We need to be more ambitious and have a vision of the future of this sector that is so strategic for Spain. It is essential to put greater effort into investment and collaboration with the industry, but also to have greater support at the institutional level and to have a strategy aligned between territorial and national initiatives,” she added.
For more information about the study, download the full report here.
About Eatable Adventures
Eatable Adventures, one of the world’s leading food technology accelerators, identifies and supports the world’s most innovative and disruptive food startups, helping them grow in the global market. To act on the food front and promote the adoption of more efficient and sustainable models, Eatable Adventures develops more than 40 corporate and government programs annually and has a community of more than 25,000 founders that has generated 3,000 foodtech projects in 2022. Promoting a synergy between innovation, ethics, and sustainability, the company works to promote, develop and democratize technologies in the agri-food sector, to build the food system of tomorrow: sustainable, efficient, healthy, and that guarantees food security on a global scale.