by Arlene Marom
URL for this Blog Post: https://bit.ly/3BVxDsK
The global food industry faces rapidly evolving consumer demands that require a continuous stream of new and enticing products. In order to keep up, digitization is being introduced into many aspects of the industry. However, until now, capturing the secrets of taste and smell have eluded food scientists.
For the past two decades, Francois Wayenberg, the Founder of Ajinomatrix, has been fascinated by this challenge. As an economist from the University of Brussels, he was determined to make an impact on this aspect of the food industry while working at a large Japanese trading company focused on food R&D – and initiated what would eventually become Ajinomatrix.
Over the years, based on accumulated knowledge and experience, the company’s future capabilities were honed. For over 20 years, Francois Wayenberg’s research network was involved in fundamental and theoretical sensory research standardization. Today, leveraging years of ground-breaking insights, Ajinomatrix is a startup company that provides a wide range of services through a blend of SaaS and an extensive open source platform.
Committed to simplifying the user experience, the company solves a number of critical issues for the food industry. First and foremost, using today’s most advanced AI, Ajinomatrix has digitized the senses of taste, flavor and aroma – making sensory science simple. Among other things, digitization overcomes a problem faced by the chemical reproduction of flavors – enabling permanent, precise copies of the flavor, without any degradation.
Interfacing with consumers, tasting panels and sensors such as e-noses or e-mouths, Ajinomatrix’s AI-based software digitally measures the senses of taste and smell, delivering easy-to-interpret data that can be shared and reused across the industry, and enable fast, accurate decisions.
Ajinomatrix provides customizable applications that create the sensory measurements required by each organization. Evaluating and analyzing data throughout all management and product development processes, the company enables clients to digitally quantify sensory measurements. This accelerates marketplace releases, ensures higher success rates with less product rejection, and prevents costly failures. Products can be localized based on their sensory profiles, and ingredients can be substituted to meet specific objectives and applications.
Overcoming the industry’s tendency to store information in disparate data silos – resulting in inefficiencies and wasted resources – Ajinomatrix’s sensory software digitally integrates the various silos and consolidates them into a single data warehouse, transforming them into a simple, easy-to-use output file for smart, rapid decision-making.
The software will eventually standardize measurements and create a global model that will render files that will become compatible – once taste and scent measurement become digital.
Ajinomatrix targets medium to large food and beverage companies, food scientists, flavor and fragrance companies, organoleptic labs, food wholesalers and manufacturers of sensors – with a business model based on co-development.
Along his journey to establishing Ajinomatrix, Francois Wayenberg has won international awards including from UNESCO, worked with NASA, and took part in experimental projects in Israel. An inventor and serial entrepreneur, Founder Institute graduate, and industrial collaborator at the AI Lab at the University of Brussels, he has also managed to author 24 books, write poetry, and work as a cinematographer.
Joel Bellenson, CPO & VP of Research, brings 30 years of executive experience in agriculture and biochemical businesses. The companies he has co-founded have attracted over USD 100 million of investment. A Fortune 500 company acquired one of his companies. He took another to the public market. He was CEO & Chief Scientist at DigiScents, which DNA-sequenced the human neuroreceptors for fragrance and flavour and developed the first digital scent synthesizer from primary fragrances and flavors. He was also the CEO & Co-founder of DoubleTwist, the first to annotate the Human Genome, and was the Inventor, Founder and Manager of the DNA Core Facility Robotic Equipment and Services at the Stanford University Medical Center.
Christian du Jardin, CMO, brings 20 years of business expertise in senior marketing, strategy, and communication roles in blue chip companies in the food and beverage industry (Unilever, Pepsico Restaurant International) in Belgium and Europe. Founder and managing partner in 2014 of Kera Way Consulting, he mentored C-levels and management teams facing growth and change challenges (reference clients include Deloitte, bpost, BNP Paribas AM, etc). He is AI Orange Belt-certified, author and keynote speaker of the book, Manager 3.0 – Seven Principles to Manage the Change Induced by AI (released May 2020 in French), and is a consultant/facilitator for the Digital Wallonia Program (2021). He loves and has made multiple trips to India, practices mindfulness, and in 2019, set up Centre Psyché, a multidisciplinary center to help people in situations of stress, burn-out and life transition.
Ajinomatrix has a presence in a number of global locations including Jerusalem, Paris, Brussels, Tokyo, Barcelona, Kampala, and Mexico City. They have 35 qualified business prospects and 10 signed LOIs, as well as a number of pre-sales use cases.
The company participated in Y Combinator’s School for Startups and the Founder Institute, and, from a group of 110 startups, they were considered by Mass Challenge to be one of the two most traction-generating companies. They recently participated in the Agri-Food Summit in Tel Aviv and will have a video address at EIT Paris with team members on premises.
Ajinomatrix has developed a new concept: It is creating unique positioning for itself as a hybrid startup and research foundation. The company plans to open research facilities in three global locations including Israel.
In order to implement its LOIs and establish the first research facility, they are currently focused on a funding round, seeking €2 million.