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Meet the jury


Meet the Vitafoods Europe Startup Innovation Challenge 2024 Jury

The Vitafoods Europe Startup Innovation Challenge offers nutraceutical startups targeting the health and wellbeing sector an opportunity to develop their innovative projects through a specialised support programme. 

It is with great pleasure that we wish to introduce you to our Jury:


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Adam M. Adamek

Dr. Adam M. Adamek serves as the Director of Innovation at EIT Food. With over 25 years in the research and innovation space in academia, startups and international food industry, his expertise spans food-tech, precision nutrition, product development, and pioneering innovation management. He's deeply invested in technologies and business models that amplify healthy nutrition, food security, and sustainability. As an active mentor, Adam champions startups, guiding them to introduce groundbreaking solutions in the market. He firmly believes that innovation is the linchpin to meet and overcome the challenges our food system faces today.

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Giancarlo Addario

Giancarlo Addario is the principal at Five Seasons Ventures, having been active with the fund since February 2018. Prior to that, he spent 20+ years at leading pasta and bakery goods Barilla, covering various roles from Quality Assurance and Food Safety to Research & Development across several product categories in Italy and internationally. In the area of Open Innovation, he led various collaborative projects with research institutes, enterprises, and startups worldwide, also providing valuable mentorship to food accelerators and incubation programmes to the likes of StartupbootcampFoodTech, MassChallenge, H-Farm, Future Food Accelerator. He has a BSc in Food Science and Technology and Masters in Total Quality Management. In his spare time, he enjoys sea kayaking, swimming, hiking, and cooking.

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Lia Carlucci

Lia Carlucci is a nutrition scientist turned entrepreneur turned investor. She has 10+ years track record of building food startups, co-founded Germany’s leading think tank for the future of nutrition and excelled in corporate roles at Gruner + Jahr, Eventim, and Jägermeister. A renowned TedX speaker, Lia currently shapes the future of FoodTech and ClimateTech as an Associate Partner at the VC Fund Marvelous. Additionally, she founded Vitamin C, a newsletter-first community at the crossroads of food and climate.

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Nicolas Carbonnelle

Nicolas Carbonnelle is a partner with international law firm Bird & Bird, where he practices food law and advises on regulatory matters affecting the conduct of food businesses from R&D to post-marketing.

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Nard Clabbers

Nard Clabbers is a strategic thought leader and experienced networker, business developer, innovator, and entrepreneur in the broad field of (personalised) nutrition. After his study of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University, he worked for the food industry in international positions for more than a decade as a successful liaison between business and science. He then joined Dutch innovation organisation TNO to lead their Nutrition and Health business line and set up the world’s largest public-private research consortium on personalised nutrition & health, together with Wageningen University and Research. This led him on his current path of ‘personalised nutrition’, involving co-founding startup Happ as their CSO, founding NCNC Nutritional Consultancy and many public appearances on the topic.

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Michael Dovbish

Mike Dovbish is the Executive Director and a founding member of Nutrition Capital Network (NCN), a founder and investor community and data platform for growth companies in health and nutrition.

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Grégory Dubourg

Grégory Dubourg is an agro-engineer specialized in agri-food and nutrition, graduated from AgroParisTech. After 10 years of experience in marketing and innovation in the agri-food and nutraceutical industries, he founded Nutrikéo in 2009. Since then, he has managed this Nutrition Strategy Consulting agency whose expertise covers Studies, Innovation, Marketing and Communication strategies across the entire supply chain: agri, food, nutra, cosmetic & pharamceutical.

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Sandra Einerhand 

Sandra Einerhand is an accomplished expert in the field of nutrition science and innovation, with over 25 years of experience. She is the founder and head of Einerhand Science & Innovation, an award-winning nutrition consultancy that provides solutions to the food (ingredient) industry, as well as academic and governmental organizations all around the world. Sandra's expertise lies in providing strategic advice and services to her clients, and she is recognized for her science as well as business-oriented capabilities. Sandra has extensive experience in (infant/medical) nutrition, life sciences, health claim substantiation, literature reviews, GRAS and novel food applications, safety and efficacy of (natural) food ingredients like prebiotics, lipids, plant-based ingredients among others. Sandra has previously held positions as Scientific Program Director and Nutrition & Health Director at Danone Nutricia Research, Tate & Lyle Ingredients, and Lipid Nutrition. Sandra's educational background includes a PhD in Biomedicine and a master’s degree in Biochemistry from the Universities in Amsterdam. 

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Paula Giser

Paula Giser is a food-tech pioneer, both developing novel products and startups as well as active in corporate consulting. She is an R&D manager at Foodlab Tel Aviv, an emerging global R&D Foodtech center. Currently, she is also the VP of Acceleration Programs at Eatable Adventures, a leading agri-foodtech accelerator. Paula has a MSc in Food Science Technology from Univ de Ciencias Naturales de Buenos Aires, postgraduate in Innovation & Design Thinking from Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona and a Culinary Arts Diploma by Instituto Argentino de Gastronomía.

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Raphaelle O'Connor

Raphaëlle O'Connor is highly experienced in the ideation, development, and commercialisation of food chemistry, food science, and food technology. She deals specifically with functional nutrition and consumer health and wellness through nutrition, leveraging a highly developed network of strategic partnerships and collaborators, as well as her own veteran expertise in systematic governance processes. Raphaëlle has led numerous international and regional inter-disciplinary teams, acting as an innovation catalyst and product-portfolio ambassador. With inewtrition, Raphaëlle leads cross-functional technology transfer projects to contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs) and ensures both adherence to client business processes and a robust transfer of clinical and commercial products, technologies, and services.

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Michael Stott

Michael Stott has worked in the patent profession since 2008 and has a strong technical grounding in small molecule and medicinal chemistry, and particular technical expertise in the fields of pharmaceuticals nutraceuticals, and food technology. He has significant experience of drafting and prosecuting patent applications in the UK and Europe, as well as managing international patent portfolios and works with a wide range of clients including start-ups, universities, SMEs and multinational corporations. Michael has been recommended in the latest edition of the IAM Patent 1000 guide and is noted as a “sophisticated and diligent portfolio manager, Stott knows how to get the most value from his clients’ intellectual assets.

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Aline Santa Izabel

Aline Santa Izabel is an innovation ecosystem builder, entrepreneur and biosciences specialist with a broad experience in entrepreneurship and innovation at a European level. She has been working with different startups and scaleups operating at the intersection of business, science, and tech, focusing on impact. Aline is currently supporting the Digital Health ecosystem development supporting innovative startups in the Nordics and Baltics with the European Digital Innovation Hub (EDIH) Health Data Sweden, and DigitalWell Arena – an innovation platform from the Compare Foundation supported by the Swedish Innovation agency. She is also a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the Royal Technical University KTH/Sweden, Expert Advisor & Jury Member within Deeptech at the European Commission European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator and Horizon Europe Framework funding programs.

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Imran Afzal

Imran Afzal leads the R&D Open Innovation for Mondelez in Europe.  As a food scientist, he has worked across the supply chain, in operations, for retailers, and CPG brands.  Imran has also worked in a start-up, successfully leading their R&D for gluten free products. Imran: "I can't wait to hear the pitches from the founders who will help transform our health and wellness."

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Carolina Villa

Carolina is Principal Investor at Nucleus Capital, a VC firm focused on pre-seed/seed investments in Programming biology (Synbio & TechBio), Food-Tech and Industry Decarbonization. She has previously worked for large food and nutraceutical corporations around the world (DSM and CJ Bio) and different incubators and accelerators (Planet and Startlife).