We talked to Pablo José Sosa Domínguez, CEO at Oscillum, about innovations in the agri-food sector, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Pablo José Sosa Domínguez: This terrible situation is affecting many people in this world. Not only in terms of physical health but mental health as well. Fortunately, we are all good. We have been very lucky that this terrible crisis has not affected anyone in my circle and all my friends, family, and colleagues are good.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Oscillum.
Pablo José Sosa Domínguez: I was born and grew up in the Canary Islands, one of the most beautiful places in Spain. I have always been a very curious kid. I had many hobbies, and I loved many of them. I have always been very passionate about science, which is why I decided to be part of that world. Currently, I am a biotechnologist. I studied biotechnology at the University Miguel Hernández de Elche. What I liked the most about science is to use that knowledge to develop things to improve society. This is how I met Pilar and Luis – the other two founders of Oscillum – while we were studying at the university. Three of us shared the same perspective about the science application to today’s society, and that was the most passionate part of our career that involves knowledge of different areas chemistry, biology, engineer, genetics, etc. That is how we started to involve in the entrepreneur world together with a University program. We were working with many different ideas that we still have in our minds. We develop our labels for food monitoring. The labels are applied in contact with food, and it changes color to indicate the freshness of the products. That was the point when we decided that we have to continue that path, and then we founded Oscillum in June of 2019. From that point, we have been working very hard to develop our labels. The main idea of the technology is to push new ways to make the food value chain more sustainable and safe by reducing food waste and preventing food poisonings. The labels bring value to the whole value chain, from producers and retailers to consumers.
For producers, we offer a tool that will help them to optimize the decision-making in a glimpse since they will be able to see the status of individual products. The technology will also help them to show the quality of their products and improve the consumer experience, which will help them to catch an extra segment of the market, especially consumers that are more aware of the climate problems. For retailers, we also offer a decision-making tool that will allow them to optimize their stock. The technology also is a great tool for dynamic pricing since the retailers now have an extra parameter to take into account when a product can enter the cycle of the dynamic price. Similarly, retailers are now using a more common strategy with products that are close to the sell-by date or best before date. When a product is close to those dates, they give a second life either by preparing that food and offer it to take-away or cook it for their own restaurants in the so-called “mercaurants.” The benefit for the consumers is obvious, the label will help them to know the real status of the food, allowing them to take more advantage of their food while reducing food waste, so it will help them to save money. To sum up, this technology helps the agri-food system to optimize the resources.
How does Oscillum innovate?
Pablo José Sosa Domínguez: Biotechnology is one of the areas that brings knowledge of different branches of science involving genetics, chemistry, biology, engineer, and computing. Hence, this allows biotechnologists to face the same challenge through different perspectives and combinations. The main innovative component in our company is the multidisciplinary vision and the R&D component that generates our know-how. Prior to this, we have a team with a high focus on the market to define the new necessities and trends that the industry is implementing and adapt our services and products base on that information.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Pablo José Sosa Domínguez: We are a company that provides technology to the agri-food system. As we all know, the agri-food industry is one of the sectors that increased their activity during the crisis. The interest in our technology during the pandemic has been increasing by moments, especially in terms of safety and control. Producers and retailers have seen that the consumers are more aware of the origin and safety of their products, and they are adapting to the current necessity in order to offer to the consumer what they are asking for. Our technology is a great tool to manage and optimize the decision-making across the whole value chain offering benefits to producers, retailers, and consumers.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Pablo José Sosa Domínguez: I think we all learned something during the crisis: We need to change our consumption behavior. The covid crisis has taught us the importance of having a healthy environment, a healthy world, and it has highlighted the importance of the green economy. The actual consumption system is leading us to a very limited future we few resources. The carbon-based economy has to switch to an economy based on reusable resources and clean energy to not to face new crisis related to the actual climate crisis, and we are very happy that, like us, many people think the same way, many entrepreneurs have this vision, and they are working very hard to improve every sector.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Pablo José Sosa Domínguez: As a startup entering the market, we have very limited resources. Basically, our strongest point is the motivated and multidisciplinary team focused on the market and necessities of our customers. We have a very powerful innovative component in technical and business areas.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Pablo José Sosa Domínguez: In the industry, there are companies working towards the same vision, making the food value chain more sustainable reducing food waste. This technology uses different strategies to reach the same point, and many of them use an indirect system to provide this data. Some other alternatives use time-response technology to predict the status of food, and other segments prefer to use RFID technology which cost is still high to think about implementing one in every package. Our technology is very cost-efficient and viable to implement in the agri-food system, which manages a very high volume of products. Oscillum’s technology can be implemented in every piece of product (e.g., meat) that is in a package.
Your final thoughts?
Pablo José Sosa Domínguez: It is very important to start making changes from scratch, and if we listen to the right people, we can actually develop life-changer technologies. The resources are there, the motivation is there, and everything we – the entrepreneurs – need is the final push from the marker to make everything possible. It is not about competition; it is about cooperation.
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