Food Hack by Biobord: Save the date!

Food Hack by Biobord
11.03. – 12.03.2021

Alternative proteins and functional foods

Does innovation, sustainability and food make your heart leap?
Are you passionate about the more sustainable future of food? Then join us!

Food Hack by Biobord is a digital 24-hour long innovation competition hosted by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region project ConnectedbyBiobord, with a transnational team of experts and hackers. The ConnectedbyBiobord -project is working for building competitive transnational collaboration in unlocking new market opportunities within the bioeconomy field in the Baltic Sea Region. The theme of the competition is ”Alternative proteins and functional foods” and we have collected five challenges that are common for companies in the Baltic Sea region.

Functional foods: foods containing probiotics, prebiotics, or plant stanols and sterols. Functional foods, drinks, and ingredients that deliver additional or enhanced benefits over and above their basic nutritional value. They can also be fortified food products with a nutrient that would not usually be present to any great extent, like specific vitamins.

Alternative proteins: Alternative protein sources encompass variety of meat substitutes, including algae, mycoprotein, plant-based legumes and insects.

Food Hack by Biobord is an event where open innovation and the idea of everyone growing whilst sharing knowledge is core (if you do not want to share something – do not tell!). This means that everyone can claim the ideas or solutions that come up during the event and that everything you share with others will help to fulfill this purpose.

Would you like to be a hacker?

As a hacker you will work in teams with challenges, boosted by the latest research and experienced mentors. All in the spirit of open challenge driven innovation! You will be part of a team based on what challenge you are most interested in. The challenges are presented below. As a hacker you are part of the full program including inspiration sessions, meetings with experts in the field and taking part in the innovation competition. The program will be from Thursday, March 11th morning until Friday, March 12th afternoon. More detailed schedule will be sent to registered hackers at the end of February, together with additional information. Winning team of the Food Hack by Biobord will move on to a second innovation round and is able to develop their challenge-driven innovation even further with new experts and support. All participants leave the event with new transnational contacts and new knowledge, and who knows – with new innovations!

Make sure to register each participating member of your organization to this free event before 21.02.2021:




To succeed in our work of developing new products for alternative proteins or functional food and bring them all the way from first idea to finished product on the market, often with limited resources, we need to collaborate and network.


We must create a sustainable way of working long-term and sharing experiences and knowledge with each other. Working this way, we can speed up processes, learn from mistakes, create a consumer demand together and cut lead times. The objective is to bring our new high-quality products to the market more successfully and faster.


Exchange of technical expertise and creative ideas for marketing communication is a success factor for the future. All proposed challenges below are starting points for discussions regarding how to collaborate on common issues, obstacles, and possibilities, and how to benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience.


Please select top 3 challenges of your choice from the preference point of view (mark with 1 your preference no 1 and so on). Selection is done in the registration link.


1.      How to share and exchange expertise knowledge


Components of herbal plants and fungi are used as ingredients in the production of various fermented products. Companies are developing new malt-based fermented drinks, supplemented with plant and fungi based bioactive compounds to achieve various qualities for nutrition, energy boosting and health benefits. Bioactive compounds are extracted from plants and fungi, and the challenge is to maintain the nutritional value of these compounds and at the same time obtain products with taste quality that can be accepted by and appeal to consumers. This requires technical expertise – a knowledge that several companies could share.


Challenge: How can different stakeholders working on similar challenges share their knowledge and expertise in a creative and constructive way? What do the channels of information look like today and how can we improve them?  In what way can we gain access to process and technology know-how? Today and in the future?

2.      Finding new and different strategies for marketing healthy and nutritious food

In order to grow production volumes to make niche products more attractive and affordable, companies dealing with food innovation in the fields of plant-based proteins, functional ingredients, and novel food sources, often face significant challenges. These range from understanding what exactly customers are looking for in plant-based products and functional food, the impact of ingredients and production processes on product microstructure and texture, proving the claimed benefits of healthiness and nutrition, and increasing the willingness of consumers to invest into sustainable future by starting to use alternative protein sources.

Today, marketing is all about finding your niche and building the platform where your voice will make a difference and can be heard. As it can be difficult for any SME, micro or start up business to enter and be a profitable player in any market, main or niche, companies need to be innovative to find, develop and be successful in their market of choice.

Challenge: What kind of marketing strategies, for example nudging, can be used to increase consumption of healthier and more nutritious innovative food products that are beneficial, attractive, and affordable, thus more sustainable for the planet, businesses and the individual? What technical solutions could benefit healthy food choices?


3.      Changing the perception of plant-based protein

Developing new plant-based products can be quite difficult for small businesses, as a lot of research and testing needs to be done to find mutually supportive ingredients in terms of taste, texture, nutrients, and appearance. Product development of plant-based/alternative proteins often aim to produce foods that are “instead of meat” or “equal to meat”. Neither product development nor the marketing of these products has been particularly successful.

Plant based and alternative protein products could instead be a separate food group with their own interesting functions. Products can often be heavily processed and contain many food additives to make them more familiar or meat-like to consumers. It is in the interest of food producers, and even a market demand, to develop less processed foods and use local ingredients instead of X (X = coconut oil, sugar, glucose syrup and invert sugar solution or similar).

Innovation has focused on appealing to the presumed demands of meat eaters but switching from eating meat to consuming other proteins is a harder step to take if these products are perceived as artificial and intensely processed.


Challenge: What strategies can be built to change our perception of plant-based proteins as a direct alternative to a particular dish (sausage, hamburger) and instead of modifying the structure of the product to see it as a stand-alone protein source? What would we call these products and how would they be marketed?


4.      Transforming the attitude towards protein from insects and insects in food. (Insects as an example of a protein source that has long journey to market.)

For several years, insects have been considered to be part of our sustainable diet in the future, and a strong contender among alternative protein sources. Countries have different regulations and laws regarding insects as human food, and this has led to differences in development of this protein source in the Baltic Sea region. In some countries the only way to sell insects for human consumption is to offer them as whole intact specimens, since their fragmentation into pure protein is not allowed. Despite companies’ extensive efforts to extract human food from insects, they have jointly faced tough challenges due to the abovementioned and cultural constraints and resistance, which has resulted in failure to reach a commercial market.

Various cooking methods and recipes have been explored to make novel food accepted by the public. Instead of focusing on processing and texture, it is time to explore how context and culture can have an impact on how we perceive insects as food.

Challenge: What would happen if we placed the insect food product in a different context (environment, tradition, or culture)? How do we design the “insect food experience” to attract new markets? What marketing strategies can be explored to design the insect food experience? In which context, tradition or culture could the insects fit in?


5.      Exploration of new protein resources

Protein rich legumes, for example beans and peas, and their side streams are used in the development of new protein rich products. Today companies produce or process these legumes, but as is the case with beans and peas, they are mainly used for protein extrusion or production of other end products like salted bean snacks.

Three main needs can be identified:

  • Identification of new raw materials which could be used themselves as ingredients, either pure or in combination with other products.
  • Exploration of new products where side streams would be used. A challenge can be the special taste of legume side streams, which makes it difficult to use as replacement of cereal products, for example.
  • Solutions need to be economically justifiable for small and medium-sized production systems to create dynamic, agile, and thus radical innovation.

Challenge: What could be the new alternative protein sources? Where can we obtain knowledge about such raw materials and how should this information be made available?

Practical information


Food Hack by Biobord teams will be formed as transnational teams, based on the participants’ challenge preferences. Composition of the teams will be announced at the start of the virtual hackathon event and teams will have 24h to hack the challenge of their choice, supported by experts in relevant fields. Experts will be selected according to the challenges, so the best possible help is at your disposal. Experts will be presented to the teams in the information package that is sent to all participants by the end of February/beginning of March. Teams will also have technical support and general guidance available during the day, from 08:00 – 17:00. An online meeting platform and co-working tools are also provided for the teams by the project coordinators, so hacking is possible even after office hours. All details will be specified in the information package.


For now, we are kindly asking you to:

  1. Select top 3 challenges you are most interested in
  2. Register (all participants from your organizations) and announce your 3 choices
  3. Save the date 11.03. – 12.03.2021 (from 09:00 – 16:00 (EET))
  4. Stay tuned for more details



In case of questions, do not hesitate to contact us:

Riikka Kumpulainen, project manager of ConnectedByBiobord +358 505759454

Elin Hansson, event coordinator and project partner / +46 738082061

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