In Europe, 30% of food-related epidemics are caused by the consumption of foods exposed to irregular temperatures. Meantime, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention Studies, every year in the US, 48 million people get food poisoning. Total costs due to this phenomenon amount to $76 billion only in the US. Fresh Strips has developed a solution to ensure food quality and safety.
Innovative, safe and modern technologies with various remarkable characteristics, such as being simple-to-construct and easy-to-use, economical, sensitive or portable, are being accelerated in industrial applications for many areas including food technology. The incorporation of chemical sensors into the food packaging technology monitors the quality and safety of food from the producers to the consumers. “Based on this particular idea and on the occasion of the Merck Displaying Futures Award, two laboratories of Eindhoven’s Polytechnic School and of the School of Chemical Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens collaborated and produced FreshStrips. After that, we secured Merck’s support” explains Marios Chryssolouris, Co-founder & CEO.
Fresh Strips provides low-cost, smart packaging solutions with sensors suitable for monitoring food quality and safety. The product of research and development is a plastic sticker attached to food packaging that provides information about the products’ exposure to heat. In the event of excessive heat exposure, Fresh Strips changes color permanently, indicating the food is no longer suitable for consumption. Consumers, producers, and retailers rest assured of the safety of heat sensitive goods while the cold chain management improves. From the moment the items are packaged, Fresh Strips start to monitor their environment. When exposed to unsuitably high temperatures, the color changes quickly from green to red, indicating the product is no longer suitable for consumption. At correct storage temperatures, the color change occurs very slowly. In this way, the Fresh Strip represents more accurately the true state of the refrigerated product as compared to a static expiration label. The temperature and rate at which the color changes can be customized according to the needs of the application.
How the idea for Fresh Strips started?
In 2014, Marios Chryssolouris, Co-founder & CEO at Fresh Strips attended MITEF Greece’s Technologies That Matter event, entitled The Big Data Challenge: Opportunities and Risks, organized in partnership with EY Greece. This gave him the chance to meet corporate executives and entrepreneurs who offered job leads, served as mentors and became his business partners. “After meeting people who likely had the same interests as me and were highly relevant to my work, I started working for EY Greece, while focusing my research on data analytics and innovation management.” Marios was then posted to EY Netherlands, where he got involved with the local startup ecosystem. Through interdisciplinary scientific collaboration for the dissemination of knowledge, expertise, and technological know-how, Marios and Koen Nickmans, Co-founder & CTO, started intensifying possible solutions for food safety. This is when Fresh Strips was born.
Marios met Koen in Eindhoven. Fani Tsironi, Applications Engineer, and Marianna Giannoglou, Quality Control Manager, came along when they started collaborating with the Food Chemistry and Technology Laboratory of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) for technical support. Good luck came their way when Marios was introduced to Harry Spinthakis, the Business Developer, at the largest early-stage startup event in Berlin, Startup Camp. “At the beginning, the economic factor was quite challenging as we urgently needed capital for legal expenses, travel, patent submission and laboratory supplies. After months of hard work and personal sacrifices, we managed to overcome difficulties with the valuable support from Merck and the Polytechnics of Eindhoven and Athens. Winning the MITEF Greece Startup Competition 2017 and the Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award helped us further accelerate our activities.”
For the time being, the team is constantly trying to enrich the IP portfolio while building strong relationships with their customers. Following their vision to include Fresh Strips on a wide range of food packages and expand to medical supplies packaging, they are investigating food safety, innovation, development and industrial implementations. “Our technology platform can be modified to measure pH, CO2 and other mitigating factors for product quality to provide a far more accurate categorization of food quality than anything currently available in the market.” Fresh Strips is expected to take a bite out of the Food Sector as is already recognized and supported by several companies and organizations, including Merck, EY, and HighTechXL.