Calidad Pascual, the Spain-based dairy business, has joined the ranks of major food manufacturers that have set up an in-house venture arm.

The family-owned business has formed Pascual Innoventures to work with and invest in start-ups doing business in areas including the circular economy, personalisation and health.

Pascual Innoventures, which is run by the third generation of Pascual family, is already working with Spain-based start-up Venvirotech on turning waste into bioplastics.

The company said it is also working on seven other products that “try to respond and provide solutions to some of the current great challenges in the agri-food sector, such as food safety, health, well-being or the circular economy”.

Sejal Ravji, the director of Pascual Innoventures, told just-food in a statement: “Pascual Innoventures has the main objective of investigating and identifying projects of all kinds, provided that they have a high potential added-value for the agri-food sector.”

Ravji said Calidad Pascual could also look to start up its own businesses depending on the area on which the vehicle was working.

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“Pascual Innoventures was born with the corporate-venturing model and with the spirit of weaving an ecosystem of start-ups in the agri-food sector based on collaborative innovation, so it will invest in start-ups in the early stage to promote their development and grow together. Pascual Innoventures is not only an investment vehicle, but is constituted as the accelerating partner that will accompany all these start-ups throughout the process, from the development of the idea or the business to the search for investors,” Ravji said.

“And it will not only invest in start-ups already created, but it will also identify new needs for the agri-food sector and create other start-ups from scratch. The way in which Pascual Innoventures works with these start-ups will always depend on the type of project, as well as the trends and priorities identified in the market. There is no defined formula since we intend to establish collaboration with numerous projects of very diverse types, and we will have to adapt to the fit that best allows us to achieve the objectives of each initiative.”

Ravji, a former GBFoods and Nestlé who joined the dairy business in 2018 as director of open innovation, is leading the new unit with Gabriel Torres Pascual, Calidad Pascual’s director of innovation.

Ravji added: “We are aware that it is necessary to keep our eyes open, investigate, create networks with the food-tech community, with accelerators, incubators, start-ups, other corporations and innovation hubs; as well as with the technology centres.”

Asked if Pascual Innoventures is looking to invest in early-stage companies already selling branded products to consumers, a spokesperson said: “Pascual Innoventures has started with the minimum capital necessary to be able to launch the project in a solvent manner. As we carry out interesting initiatives and ideas for the development of the territories in which we work, we will provide it with all the relevant and necessary resources and investments.”

The tie-up with Venvirotech will see Calidad Pascual work with the start-up on converting wastewater generated at the dairy company’s factory in the Catalan town of Gurb into biodegradable material. Calidad Pascual refused to be drawn on whether it had invested in the business.

Noelia Márquez, co-founder and CEO of Venvirotech, said: “With our process, we will be able to produce large amounts of bioplastic from what is a priori waste. We are very happy to be able to carry out this project with Pascual Innoventures since they have been very involved from the beginning and have shown the same desire as us when it comes to implementing our process in the group’s factories.”

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