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Colombians make “nano-frozen” food real

With its biotechnological development, the cold chain is maintained for up to 84 hours without consuming energy. They have already attracted $150,000 in capital and the attention of Coca-Cola.

Clarence Birdseye is cited in history books as the man who made it possible to preserve food longer with intact quality.

It's been almost 100 years since he developed quick freezing and turned the food industry upside down. Millions of dollars are being made today thanks to his invention.

When this restless man thought of such a solution, the world was still unaware of refrigerators and electric coolers. In the US, being an avant-garde country, boxes containing ice were hardly used but they did not preserve food well and also got moldy.

Today it would be difficult to conceive of a world without refrigerators for commercial and domestic use. However, the cold chain has limitations when it comes to preserving food on long journeys to remote areas.

This is where Isabel Pulido and Paola Camacho come into the picture, two graduates from the Universidad de los Andes, who developed a nanotechnology capable of keeping products refrigerated for up to 84 hours without any energy consumption.

The two co-founders worked on the project four years ago and when they verified its viability, they registered Nanofreeze in 2020, the company with which this year they will strengthen their supply to the food and health sector.

Isabel Pulido affirmed that this technique reduces the waste of perishables, especially when it comes to the last mile in the most inaccessible municipalities, villages and corregimientos, which are not accessed by trucks conditioned to refrigerate.

“We have another impact, which is the reduction in plastic waste, specifically that of expanded polystyrene (styrofoam), the material in which the boxes used to maintain the cold chain are made. In this case, we created boxes with a long useful life and made of 100% recyclable plastic,” said Pulido.

From another perspective, they also emphasized the potential that their technology can achieve in the health sector, since the vaccines can also travel to the most remote places and, in this way, the work of the medical brigades is facilitated.

"The estimated life time without refrigeration is six hours for these biologicals, but with this nanotechnology the products can be taken and the hours extended without the worry of not having a place to connect the refrigerators," said Paola Camacho.

In fact, one of its first clients was Compensar EPS, which, according to Pulido, "uses refrigerators to transport biologicals by air and land."

They also have a company that exports herbs and vegetables among their clients and "Corona is implementing this solution to have the sixpacks refrigerated and avoid Styrofoam boxes," she added.

The potential of the creation has echoed on international stages and the two co-founders have attracted the attention of investors and prestigious accelerators.

capital attraction

With the nanotechnological development, the entrepreneurs received awards such as The Biology Science Challenge, an award that they were given in 2019 above the project with which Harvard University competed that same year.

In total, they estimate that they have received more than US$300,000 in acknowledgments and have already attracted US$150,000 from angel investors, capital that will serve to strengthen the commercial operation.

Solar Powered Refrigerators

According to its founders, Nanofreeze is a company that is accelerating refrigeration processes and its added value lies in sustainable alternatives to bring products and medicines to different parts of the world without sacrificing quality. In this sense, the two creators anticipated that, by 2024, refrigerators with solar energy consumption will be brought to the market, an alternative that will begin in the commercial field. That is, it is designed for chain stores and stores that distribute refrigerated products. Due to its ability to scale, it also caught the attention of Zero_by_50 (ZBF), a North American accelerator that helps companies establish and develop alliances in the business segment with a sustainability focus. "In the years that we have been working with Nanofreeze, we have been surprised by the level of interest and support that large companies are giving to this startup," said Martín Gil, ZBF founding partner.

“Investors are betting on innovation and they found this that seemed incredible to them. We showed them results, tests and they considered that it had a lot of potential, not only for one industry but for many," Camacho stressed.

And he added: "This solution is very useful because this part of refrigeration does not have so much innovation, this being such an important issue in logistics chains worldwide."

Nanofreeze is part of the acceleration programs of startups offered by multinationals such as AB InBev (owner of Bavaria), Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson.

For the rest of 2023, they hope to strengthen sales in companies that need a cold chain. They affirmed that the plan consists of giving priority to exporting companies, due to the high rates of waste detected there.

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