High-tech cameras and artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure food safety from microbes and rot.

Sainsbury’s Challenge 1: Microbial control in ready to eat foods

Sainsbury’s is looking to develop solutions to guarantee the absence of specific bacteria in ready-to-eat products sold in its stores. The ambition is to work in partnership with food producers to contain the problems early on in the value chain, before delivery to Sainsbury’s. The solution must help identify and potentially inactivate of specific bacterial species either on raw material or finished product at point of packaging without altering the appearance, taste or nutritional properties of the ready-to-eat foods.

You can read more about Sainsbury’s and the two challenges here.

About Ascalia

Ascalia was founded in 2018 by Marin Bek, Dejan Strbad and Guy-Edward Waterland in London. It started out as an industrial internet of things (IIoT) company, eventually growing into today’s end-to-end platform for managing and improving production in manufacturing SMEs. It now has a running R&D office in Croatia where engineers, programmers, AI and data scientists build different modules of the Ascalia MES platform. Ascalia has many clients in different verticals, focusing mostly on food and beverage, woodworking, and metalworking industries.

The solution

Ascalia will use high-tech cameras and artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure food safety from microbes and rot, in a way that is non-invasive and non-contaminating – creating a risk-free experience for shoppers. Using hyperspectral cameras – a combining a normal camera and a spectrometer – the solution can detect chemical composition of objects on the production line. This previous laboratory-only technology, along with AI, can detect the subtle chemical and microbial changes in food. Unlike current solutions, that are done in a factory laboratory, this system will do random sampling of food on the production line – allowing an automatised and streamlined process. Most importantly, this analyses all food items individually, ensuring fresh food is completely free from microbes and does not spoil before it arrives on the shelves.

The solution sets out to

  •  Select a small set of food to use for testing
  •  Analyse selected food in varying conditions
  •  Use the proposed solution to detect deterioration of food condition

For industry the solution provides

  • Novel non-invasive, non-contaminating methods for ensuring food freshness
  • The capability to detect bacteria and microbes
  • The ability to detect other pollutants (foreign bodies) at a fraction of a cost of conventional solutions

Why the project is unique

Current solutions for ensuring bacteria are not present, and other measures of freshness, are currently completed in a factory laboratory by doing random samples of food on the production line. The Ascalia solution will provide an automated and streamlined system that individually analyses all food items.

What the Made Smarter Technology Accelerator means to Ascalia

The Made Smarter Technology Accelerator is the perfect programme for startups to work with large manufacturers, bridging the gap and opening doors, especially in industry. We at Ascalia are thrilled to be working with Sainsbury’s, helping them ensure food is as fresh as it gets and in turn learning from a reputable industry partner. This partnership would be much harder to organise without the Made Smarter Technology Accelerator bringing us together in an effort to make everyone’s lives and businesses better.” Marin Bek, CEO, Ascalia

Business achievements

  • Ascalia has been selected twice for EIT Climate KIC programme
  • German chamber of commerce, Startup Roadshow – Award winners.
  • £500.000 raised to date

Prototype presentation

On 23 June 2021, the programme proudly presented the first phase insights and learnings for industry in an online event.  Watch the Ascalia pitch here: