Tech Pitch: ImpactVision

The co-founder of the start-up transforming food inspection offers a quick glimpse into tech innovation, investment, and involvement with Rabobank's FoodBytes! competition

Company name: ImpactVision
Founders: Abi Ramanan (30) & Gustav Nipe (29)
Background: Food policy, social entrepreneurship and technology entrepreneurship
Based in: Nottinghamshire and San Francisco
Launched: 2015

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • ImpactVision helps food companies make real time decisions about their product quality.
  • Our technology scans 100% of products on conveyor belts at production grade speeds, distinguishing properties such as freshness, ripeness or pH, and detecting foreign objects in real-time, to optimise processing for a higher quality, more consistent end product, as well as reducing supply chain waste.
  • We do this by combining hyperspectral imaging with machine learning to access information far beyond what human eyes can see.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

Food inspection at present is manual, destructive and lengthy.

Whilst supply chains are mechanised, they are not information-enabled.

Quality inspections today involve workers in distribution centres standing by the side of conveyor belts to manually sort produce or the use of destructive sample-based tests which are highly inefficient and drive waste.

Our vision at ImpactVision is to help food companies monitor products in a non-invasive and rapid way by using hyperspectral imaging technology which was first developed by NASA.

The real time insight we provide about product quality allows sorting and packing to be optimised, decreasing waste, increasing yield and ultimately delivering consistent high-quality products to consumers.

Are you funded?

We raised $1.4m in seed funding in a round led by Acre Venture Partners last year, bringing our total funding to $1.57m. Acre Venture Partners is the agrifood tech venture fund backed by Campbells Soup.

Other investors included AgFunder, Xandex Ventures, a San Francisco based hardware-focused VC, and Merian Ventures, a female founder focused investor, as well as Singularity University.

We also took part in FoodBytes! which is a fantastic competition that goes so much further than pitching on the day.

We gained a lasting network including other start-ups and food companies, and the Rabobank team have been excellent at supporting us since then.

The endorsement as People’s Choice winner gave us a real boost as an early stage start-up.

What were you doing before starting?

Prior to founding ImpactVision, I developed policy and campaigns for organisations like the Fairtrade Foundation and Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.

I had also started two food businesses, both social enterprises, focused on migrant and refugee employment and food waste.

Realising the scale of food waste during this time prompted me to seek ways of addressing such challenges in a more systematic way, post-harvest, using technology.

After applying to Singularity University, I met Gustav Nipe; my co-founder and ImpactVision’s CTO. Nipe has a background in technology, as a hacker and entrepreneur; he built an Internet service provider in Sweden, and also assembled the first 3D printer in the country.

We developed the initial concept for applying hyperspectral imaging technology to fresh food products whilst at the programme. And we discovered that very few companies were focused on developing analytics for these images, which is an essential component of making the technology actionable and useful for food companies in ‘real world’ settings such as distribution centres and packing warehouses.

This is what we’ve been working on ever since, and we’re committed to empowering people and businesses to see beyond the borders of human vision.

We think this will help us to make better decisions for people and the planet.

Apply to pitch here at FoodBytes! London before midnight on Sunday 1 July 2018.