#AngelFunded – Finnish food education startup closes half a million funding round
January 31, 2024
A significant majority of Finnish early childhood education-aged children do not eat enough greens and fruit on a daily basis, a study from the University of Turku (2021) reveals. But how to tackle such a fundamental and worsening problem in our eating habits? Read what Vegemi, a FiBAN angel-funded startup, does to fix this pressing problem.
A couple of years ago, sisters Emilia and Tuulia Järvinen found themselves entrenched in family food education. They realized the need for a change. They sought an innovative approach to inspire children and young people to embrace fruits, vegetables, and berries willingly. Thus, the idea of an app emerged, employing XR image recognition, gamification, and play to revolutionize food education.
These ideas led to the creation of Vegemi, a mobile app launched in summer 2022, which aims to inspire children, especially those aged 3-8 years, to learn about the link between diet and health and to add vegetables to their plates. In the light of current research, the quality and diversity of the gut microbiome are also highlighted in the prevention of lifestyle diseases and obesity, as well as in strengthening immunity and mental well-being.
For this reason, a fictional good gut bacteria, Vegemi, was chosen as the main character of the app. The cartoon character of Vegemi derives superpowers from a variety of vegetables, fruits, and berries based on EU-approved health claims about the benefits of vegetables.
Almost 3 million transactions in the Vegemi app
Vegemi’s growth has been strong, and today, almost 3 million transactions have already been made on the Vegemi app, such as photo recognition of a fresh vegetable or feeding a digital fruit to Vegemi. The app’s ability to engage families in food education was so clear that the company decided to expand Vegemi into early childhood education. The co-development with the City of Espoo succeeded beyond all expectations and now all Espoo preschoolers have the opportunity to learn with Vegemi’s food education method. The City of Tampere is next in line to launch Vegemi for its Viskar and pre-school children.
Vegemi’s growth strategy is based on building awareness among children and families with children, also on the retail side, and on various national and EU projects that dig deep into the problems our society is facing to improve eating habits.
Vegemi’s potential to address societal problems has also been recognised globally and Vegemi has been invited to speak at Davos during the World Economic Forum (WEF). Vegemi will be presented by the UN-led innovation centre SDG Lab as one of the exemplary solutions for implementing the UN’s sustainable development goals, Agenda 2030.
“Encouraging children to eat fruits and vegetables is an essential part of future sustainability. I am sure that cities participating in the UN’s Sustainable Cities Programme will be happy to find ways to implement Vegemi’s offer in their schools, hospitals and other places where children are exposed,” commented Ronald Schatz, Founder and CEO of the Global Sustainability Index Institute Foundation.
500 000 € funding round closed with angels
Vegemi has recently been joined by a number of prominent Finnish and international backers, such as FiBAN angel Stefan Lindberg, and Sophia Ehrnrooth, Matti Kukkonen and from the corporate side, Tradeka Corporations and Heino Group participated in Vegducation’s recently concluded investment round, which raised money to expand Vegemi (Vegducation Oy), which was spun off from Venner Oy into its own company, both domestically and beyond Finland’s borders.
“It’s great to see how innovations created to solve societal challenges are attracting more and more interest from investors, who are willing to support companies that are working to build a better future together. Now we need action to make change happen,” said Tuulia Järvinen, CEO of Vegducation Oy.
This text is based on a press release by Vegducation Oy.
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Milja Inkeri Mäkelä
Communications Manager, FiBAN