Students of the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering served up creative and tasty innovations to win top prizes in the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Food Solutions Project — the latest in a string of victories in EU-supported competitions. This year’s competition was aimed at finding delicious and sustainable real-world solutions to problems faced by the food industry.
The Bioat Group won first place for a challenge presented by Finnish company Myllyn Paras to create an innovative product using an oat-based ingredient. The students developed a vegan “labane” (a cheese-like spread common in Israel) made from fermented oats and dietary fiber. The team was not only awarded first place by the professional judges, but also came in first in the crowd favorite category.
“We overcame many challenges on the way from taste and texture to product safety,” said Bioat team members, all Technion graduate students. “We are proud of the result and happy to contribute to the global challenge of developing sustainable substitutes for dairy products.” The concept for the product came about when one of the team members was on maternity leave and looking for dairy-free alternatives while nursing her new baby.
Two other Technion teams won first and third place in the FoodFE (Food for the Elderly) challenge, in which students designed foods that addressed issues facing the elderly such as obesity, diabetes, loss of taste, and nutritional requirements. The CRACKEAT Group took first place for a soy-based, creamy treat with a crisp cookie on top. Judges praised the treat for its taste, texture, and environmentally friendly packaging, not to mention health attributes. The product is high in protein and fiber, low in saturated fat, and sugar-free.
The Lite Delight team came in third for its chewy, brownie-like cake bar with a winning ginger-orange flavor. Judges lauded the bar for its soft, fluffy texture, and sweet taste, achieved with no added sugar.
In addition to getting the recipe just right, the winning teams needed to ace such details as product development, market research, and the business plan. “This win wraps up a whole year of hard work,” said faculty mentors Dr. Maya Davidovich-Pinhas and Professors Uri Lesmes and Avi Shpigelman. “This achievement demonstrates the excellence of students not only in the engineering and technological aspects, but also in their ability to deal with all aspects of the (marketing and manufacturing) process.”
Students from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering also won first place in 2018 with their spirulina-enriched falafel, Algalafel, and first place in 2020 for a biological solution to prevent fruit juice from spoiling.
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