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Students from Aarhus University win first prize in international competition for reinventing the Danish specialty “koldskål”

Students from the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University continue to impress our European colleagues. In a recent EIT Food entrepreneurship competition, called “Food Solutions – Reinvent Specialties” they presented a novel concept, a vegan version of the Danish specialty “koldskål” in their project COLDBOWL. They presented their pitch and business concept and won first prize.

The winning team from left to right: Jeppe Bork Beck, Anna Mark, Anja Henneberg Thomsen, Emilie Bossen Hansen, Milena Corredig (mentor), Aleksandra Sinik, Lærke Kaas Thielsen and Liisa Lähteenmäki (mentor). Photo: EIT Food

Is it possible to create more sustainable counterparts to traditional foods? That was one of the challenges in the 2023 Food Solutions competition by EIT Food, where 12 teams of students from European universities competed.  EIT Food is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.

Two teams were from the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University - Fløddies and COLDBOWL.  Fløddies transformed the traditional Danish chocolate marshmallow treat into a healthy snack for school.

COLDBOWL made a vegan version of the traditional Danish specialty dish “koldskål”, which is made from buttermilk and typically eaten in Summer. COLDBOWL won first prize and 1500 Euro for their project.

But this is just the first step as they plan on using the prize money to get their product closer to market.

Why koldskål?

After attending an initial meeting in March 2023, a group of master’s students from both Molecular Nutrition and Food Technology, and Biotechnology Engineering quickly found each other, and formed the team COLDBOWL. 

The team quickly decided on a project, one of the team members Aleksandra Sinik explains:

“We quite fast decided that we wanted to make a vegan version of the Danish specialty “koldskål.” That’s why our team’s name and company name is ColdBowl,” she explains.

The group was inspired by one of the members Lærke Kaas Thielsen, who is vegan herself, and was frustrated by the lack of plant-based well tasting alternatives to the classic Danish summer dish. The students based their product on her vegan recipe for koldskål.

Bringing people together

The students chose koldskål because they saw a hole in the market.

“There are vegan alternatives on the market, but none of them come close to tasting like the real thing. This is why we felt this was a strong idea – because we had a good product, and a clear idea that there was a market for it,” Lærke Kaas Thielsen explains.

The idea behind making a vegan koldskål is about bringing people together, she explains.

“Meals bring people together and koldskål reminds Danes of the height of Danish summer. It is associated with a special feeling of joy,” she says.

The verdict

The students gathered a panel of Danish vegans to anonymously evaluate their prototype in comparison to their memory of previous dairy-based products on the market and received really good feedback.

“Our results clearly show that we have captured the flavour and consistency better than our competitors. All of the panelists also answered that they would buy our product if it was available in the supermarket,”

In contrast to conventional koldskål which is based on cow's milk, the team’s product is based on peas, oats and soy.  The prototype of the product is packaged in recyclable PET containers.

New experiences

In developing the recipe and finding the exact right taste for their product the students were able to utilise their knowledge from their studies.

But the EIT Food Solutions competition is not only about developing a product and provide appropriate taste and texture – it is about bringing a business viable concept to market, so you also need to make a business plan, do market research and even create advertising material for your product. 

“As part of the EIT Food Solutions program, the COLDBOWL team had the opportunity to work for 8 months with mentors from different disciplines, and they were tested along the way by industry mentors across Europe” explains Professor Milena Corredig, one of the Competition organizers.

Even though several of the group members had had one or two subjects on marketing and/or innovation, this part of the process was more unfamiliar to them.

All the way through the process the students were able to spar with mentors from both The Department of Food Science, Aarhus University and the MAPP Centre, Aarhus University, where the students have been able to get help in developing a sound stakeholder analysis and business model.

“It has been a huge help to know that we had these mentors who we could contact if we had questions or needed sparring or feedback” Aleksandra Sinik says.

Valued competition

The EIT Food Solutions-contest aims to bring together multi-disciplinary teams to tackle real-life industry challenges and develop innovative new solutions for the food system and thus develop the students’ entrepreneurial spirit.

“It is always a great experience following the students’ journey from the early idea phase to the final product”, says Sandra Beyer Gregersen from the Department of Food Science, another Competition organizer.

It is not the first time that students from AU FOOD have won an EIT Food competition. Read about the winners from 2022 and their project that turned crab shells into food packaging here.

Additional Information   Vi bestræber os på, at alle vores artikler lever op til Danske Universiteters principper for god forskningskommunikation. På den baggrund er artiklen suppleret med følgende oplysninger:
Project title COLDBOWL
Programme is financed by EIT Food
Conflict of interest None
External commenting EIT Food per contract, requires to be provided with a draft document
Collaborators EIT Food

Professor Milena Corredig, AU FOOD
22 71 91 32

About EIT Food  

EIT Food is the world’s largest and most dynamic food innovation community. We accelerate innovation to build a future-fit food system that produces healthy and sustainable food for all. ​  

Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, we invest in projects, organisations and individuals that share our goals for a healthy and sustainable food system. We unlock innovation potential in businesses and universities, and create and scale agrifood startups to bring new technologies and products to market. We equip entrepreneurs and professionals with the skills needed to transform the food system and put consumers at the heart of our work, helping build trust by reconnecting them to the origins of their food.  

We are one of nine innovation communities established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.   

Find out more at www.eitfood.eu or follow us via social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.