4 min read


May 22, 2024 9:56:49 AM

The Desafía FoodTech Germany is almost half-way there, and we're happy to introduce our first startup of the program. NUCAPS is revolutionizing industries with its technology, developed in collaboration with professionals in the field. Since its establishment, NUCAPS has been dedicated to providing innovative solutions for human health challenges in Food Nutrition, Nutraceuticals, Feed, Pharma & Cosmetics. Their latest innovation showcases the world’s first platform for functional ingredients, utilizing protein-based microencapsulation for bioactives and probiotics. NUCAPS' technology offers up to 30 times increased absorption compared to traditional methods, seamlessly integrating functionality into food matrices with a clean-label and a sustainable approach. We talked with Mariano Oto, CEO of NUCAPS to learn more about this promising startup.

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How did you come up with the idea of creating NUCAPS?

Nucaps was established in 2017 to offer to the market a solution developed by the co-founders of the company: a private research university (Universidad de Navarra), a private tech center (CNTA), and a pharma company (ARDENA). This technological solution aims to change the technical approach to overcome human health problems in Food Nutrition, Nutraceuticals, Feed, Pharma & Cosmetics solving the problems for oral administration of bioactive ingredients and probiotic microorganisms.

What problem are you solving with your FoodTech startup?

Our functional Ingredients enhance the Nutritional profile and taste of Food and supplements. Diet related illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc. are now the main cause of death in the world, about 20% of deaths are linked to a poor diet. All this is increasing the worldwide demand for diet supplements, functional foods, nutraceuticals and probiotics. Producers however face great difficulties to create healthy products: the results have an unpleasant taste, or low stability, or have no real effect on health and they are very expensive.
Nucaps' technology increases the absorption by up to 30 times. It can be done for 70% less cost. We can increase shelf life of products from days to months, and we make possible the incorporation of these ingredients in food matrices as the protein coating is protecting the ingredients from industrial processes: pasteurization, UHT (Ultra-high temperature processing), cooking, etc. Our proprietary ingredients also allow the reduction of salt and sugar in processed food through the controlled release of natural flavors that increase the salty/sweet sensation.

What impact does your technology have on agriculture / health?

Nucaps is a company dedicated to making a positive social impact. We measure our impact through key performance indicators focused on two main areas: health through nutrition and sustainability. In terms of health, our efforts aim to reduce the probability of diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular problems, type II diabetes, obesity, and hypercholesterolemia. We also focus on improving microbiota and gut health. On the sustainability front, we emphasize the valorization of by-products from the agrifood industries, promoting products from the circular economy. Our initiatives include reducing the use of chemicals in crops and livestock feed, as well as minimizing plastic in packaging.

How does your technology work?

We design and produce very small (microscale) spheres made of protein that work as natural carriers of healthy substances and compounds such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, oils, extracts, probiotics, flavors, probiotics, enzymes, APIs, etc. These microcapsules protect their load (from environmental, industrial and gastric conditions) achieving a controlled release of their cargo in the right point of the body (colon, gut, stomach, mouth or skin). This allows us to increase their efficiency with a safe, clean-label and affordable solution.


What challenges do you face when starting up?

Funding and expanding our production capacity can sometimes be challenging for our company's growth. Additionally, regulatory requirements in Europe, while important for safety, sometimes slow down the introduction of innovative food products.

Why is the German market of interest to you?

German market is the biggest one in Europe and in Germany we can meet some of the most relevant players in the European food industry (ingredients manufacturers, food producers, industrial facilities and research centers and more.) Also, German consumers are concerned about diet problems and are willing to improve their health through nutrition. We can help to produce nutritious and delicious food adapted to German people's demands and likes.

And something else…

We are looking for FoodTech mentors who have deep insights and connections in the German food industry to guide these promising Spanish startups entering the German market. If you're interested in sharing your expertise and connecting with innovative startups, sign up to be a mentor today - our Virtual Mentors Day will take place on June 24th. Don't miss this chance to be part of the future of FoodTech innovation!

Liza Ziva

Written by Liza Ziva

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