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Mimica Arla label

Mimica and Arla set out to form the future of expiry labels

2018-04-10

The start-up Mimica joined the Accelerace family in May 2017 and can look back at a remarkable year. Among others, they were forming the foundation for an exciting cooperation with the global dairy company Arla to test their product and get Mimica Touch, a smart tactile expiry label in the supermarket shelves.

Because who doesn’t know this kind of situation: You have a milk carton in your fridge. It smells fine, it looks fine, but the expiry date passed two days ago and leaves you in doubt if you dare to add a sip to your coffee or not. The Mimica Touch label could reduce the premature end of perfectly fresh products in the garbage can dramatically by providing a more accurate expiry date.

Mimica Touch – how the idea was born

The story of Mimica began when founder Solveiga Pakštaitė did research for a university project about how blind people are managing their daily life. Then she started wondering about how they are reading expiry dates – and came up with the idea of a tactile expiry label that decays at the same time like food. The substance that enables it is gelatine, a waste product of the meat industry. As this gel denatures, it can precisely mimic the temperature curve of the food and will reveal bumps in the label that cannot be felt as long as the product is fresh. In 2015 she founded the company. “That was a huge milestone because I think very few student projects make it that far”, Solveiga Pakštaitė says. Together with a team of R&D- and innovation keen colleagues, they worked the lab bench, developed their first prototype and won numerous prestigious prices like the James Dyson Award and MIT’s inventor of the year.

Corporate Collaboration with Arla – enabled by Accelerace

Since May 2017, Mimica has been a part of the Accelerace Foodtech program forming an exciting and symbiotic partnership with Arla. Solveiga appreciates the intermediary and supporting role of Accelerace and describes the program as “unique in that it actually gives you a real chance of securing a pilot with a big company.” The collaboration is an exceptional access point for Mimica. Arla shares a huge beneficial pool of know-how and resources that will help in accelerating the progress of Mimica touch tremendously, especially in terms of consumer research. Currently, a pilot project is running, where the consumer reactions are tested. The results will help to communicate the use of the label more clearly and provide insights into the concerns, future customers might have. If the results of this trial are positive, the label will be calibrated to specific Arla milk and yoghurt products and tested in a real-life set-up in the UK soon.

How does the Cooperation between Arla and Mimica work?

“Arla came at this with a really good approach. It has definitely been the easiest relationship with a big company we had so far. I really like, how they are able to adapt to what a start-up needs,” Solveiga explains. One big enabler between the two is the fact that Arla assigned them a team of so-called corporate champions, who support and mentor the project in all kinds of ways. Edward Sliwinski, Senior R&D Manager in Arla is head of this team. What strikes him most about the concept is the originality and simplicity of the product. He also appreciates the eagerness and passion with which Solveiga and the Mimica team pursue their vision of fighting food waste – and is proud that Arla proved its capability to keep up to the pace of a small agile start-up. He sees a huge responsibility for society and Arla towards the avoidance of food waste: “It is really a pity, that a lot of people cannot and do not have access to good food and we are wasting it. There is a role for the producers, supermarkets and for the consumers,”says Edward Sliwinski. The collaboration of Arla and Mimica could address this by saving tons of perfectly fresh and edible food, caused by inaccurate expiry dates.

What comes after Dairy?

The Mimica Touch label is basically well applicable for all kinds of fresh proteins, which include a broad range of products like eggs, meat and fish. “But I think we can make an impact outside of the food space. We are starting with food because it’s a really valuable resource, that we are wasting far too much at the moment. But there are other areas that are in need of accurate information.”, Solveiga explains. She sees a huge potential for medical application, for example, vaccines or transplants. “I really have big hopes for the future of the company.”

Read more about Mimica here https://www.mimicalab.com