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Taste the future of food at THE HEAT climate festival 

Jul 08

Participants at 🔥THE HEAT will be able to sample a wide variety of future foods – thanks to our future-food curator Daniel Skavén Ruben, who is organising the festival’s future-food exhibition.

BY JOE ROWAN, July 8 2024

THE HEAT,’s first-ever climate-tech festival, is taking place on Friday September 20 2024 at the extraordinary Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.

THE HEAT will be a hands-on, practical, mind-expanding, friendship-building, exploratory, curiosity-led, science-based, creative, artistic, participatory, decentralised, experimental, edgy, live, risky, urgent and unpredictable gathering of the talented people working on climate technologies. THE HEAT is not a conference. Don’t expect dull panels or awful coffee. Instead, come to make new friends, experience science in action, learn and share your knowledge, inspire and be inspired. Bring your most engaged and curious festival mindset.

Participants at 🔥THE HEAT will be able to sample a wide variety of future foods – thanks to our future-food curator Daniel Skavén Ruben, who is organising the festival’s future-food exhibition.

🧠 Learn more about it in our article below and come try future foods such as Fermtech’s protein-enriched chocolate brownies at 🔥THE HEAT on September 20 2024 at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

At THE HEAT you won’t just learn about tomorrow’s science — you’ll be able to taste it too. The festival’s Future-Food Curator, Daniel Skavén Ruben — an expert on the emerging technologies decarbonising the food system, from precision fermentation to cell cultivation — has created a wonderfully interactive display of food innovation that festival-goers will get to sample. Julienne Bruno and Willicroft will bring their plant-based dairy ranges; Better Dairy will offer its alternative dairy products to sample; Win-Win will serve cocoa-free chocolate and Fermtech its protein-enriched chocolate brownies; Hoxton Farms will bring plant-based meat; Notpla will serve drinks in edible Ooho packaging and show its sustainable seaweed-based packaging; and Olio’s volunteers will ensure that no uneaten food is wasted.

Stockholm-based Skavén Ruben is something of an authority on future foods. He’s behind the four-year-old newsletter Foodtech Weekly, the podcast The Appetizer, and the investment syndicate Solvable Syndicate, which now has 200 members and has made seven investments, with the average ticket just shy of $100,000. He’s worked for the food and ag team of the Rockefeller Foundation and as a mentor to Big Idea Ventures in New York, Katapult in Oslo and Norrsken in Stockholm, and has been an operating advisor to Nordic Foodtech VC in Helsinki, Mudcake in Stockholm and Bloom Equity in London.

THE HEAT’s future-food curator, Daniel Skavén Ruben

For Skavén Ruben, the key to the food industry’s transition will be its ability to increase productivity. “A cow in the UK will produce 20 times more milk than a cow in Africa, meaning you need a lot more cows and resources to get the same amount of milk,” he says. Cutting food waste also needs to be a priority. “In poor countries, 30% of food is lost before even reaching the consumer, and in rich countries 30% of food produced is lost either at the supermarket, restaurant, or consumer level. And we need to shift to more sustainably produced and nourishing dietary patterns.”

Technology innovation is already having a remarkable impact on food systems. “Some areas that exist now hardly existed ten years ago,” Skavén Ruben says. “We went from a handful of [food-tech] companies to hundreds and hundreds, both in plant-based alternatives to animal-sourced food and cell-cultivated, or cultured, or lab-grown meat.” Does this mean that we’ll all be eating lab-grown meat and insects in a few years? “Maybe not. But some exciting innovations will let us produce and consume foods in a more environmentally sustainable and nourishing way.”

Still, we’re early on that journey. “We still don’t really understand the human gut microbiome, and I hope that ten years from now we will have a much better understanding of how food impacts us, giving us the ability to personalise nutrition,” he says. 

Following an entrepreneurial career running an e-commerce books startup and helping Danish tech companies to internationalise, Skavén Ruben fell into food and ag after studying international relations at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. “Everything sort of traces back to the food system. It’s the industry impacting the environment more than any other.” 

One startup sourced by Skavén Ruben to showcase its product at THE HEAT is Oxford-based Fermtech, which will be bringing chocolate brownies made with Nutriferm, its high-protein, ultra-low-carbon ingredient. 

Fermtech uses “solid state fermentation” to grow Nutriferm: in other words, it grows fungi on solid substrates rather than in liquid tanks. The process harnesses the excellent bioconversion ratio of filamentous fungi, so that they can unlock sources of carbon extremely efficiently. The feedstock that they use for this process is brewers’ spent grains, thus ensuring a low-carbon protein. “We have spent grains shipped to a colocation site with anaerobic digesters,” explains Fermtech’s CEO, Andy Clayton. “What comes in is spent grains, and what comes out is valuable human food protein and energy.” 

Fermtech’s CEO, Andy Clayton

Fermtech will be joined by these other companies at THE HEAT’s future-food exhibition on September 20:

Notpla produces plastic-free packaging from seaweed. It will be serving Ooho, a drink in an edible pouch made from seaweed.

Hoxton Farms makes cultivated fats without harming animals. If you buy some of their merch at the festival, you’ll be entered into a charity raffle to win a dinner featuring cultivated fat made by Hoxton Farms’ Michelin-starred chef, Josh Hatfield.

Olio is an app that lets you give away food and other items that would otherwise be wasted. Olio will be bringing volunteers to THE HEAT to collect any uneaten food so that it is not wasted.

Better Dairy makes cheese without cow’s milk using precision fermentation. It will bring some of its alt-dairy products for sampling as well as some merch.

Julienne Bruno makes dairy alternatives from plants, which it will bring for sampling.

Willicroft makes plant-based dairy alternatives. It will bring its plant-based cheese to sample.

Win-Win makes cocoa-free chocolate, which you will be able to sample at the festival.

Learn more about Fermtech at and come meet the team at THE HEAT on September 20 2024 at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus near Oxford (more at