Meet the Founders: Apples for Glycemic Control by Plant & Food Research

Imagine a world where apples become a potent tool in the fight against pre-diabetes, offering a natural, easy to access solution to managing blood glucose levels. 

Enter Andrew Dare and Richard Edmonds from Plant & Food Research, the visionary minds behind this transformative venture. Together they are participating in the Sprout Accelerator Autumn24 cohort. 

Armed with a Ph.D. in phytochemistry, molecular biologist and biochemist Dr. Andrew Dare is an apple expert. Notably, he is among the few people in the world with advanced knowledge of a particular compound in the fruit. This compound is one of the key ingredients for their product: Apples for Glycemic Control. 

Richard Edmonds, a bioprocess engineer, comes alongside him in this venture. Richard has experience finding sustainable alternatives for food byproducts to avoid sending unused bioresources to landfills. Practically, he works to transform a raw product into a stable, usable, valuable ingredient and finds effective ways for businesses to use it. 

Experienced and resilient with a broad spectrum of expertise, the rest of the Apples for Glycemic Control team is already hard at work behind the scenes. Dr. Carolyn Lister holds a background in apple biochemistry with extensive knowledge of food safety regulations and health claims on fruit products. She currently manages the team behind the New Zealand Food Composition Database. Dr John Monro is a scientist and an expert on dietary fibre composition and how it affects blood glucose. Carl Massarotto is passionate about getting value out of our byproducts and offers the team valuable business support. 

The team knows there are currently few options on the market for people who have pre-diabetes or are managing high glucose levels. Additionally, these options often require pharmaceutical intervention or a visit to a GP. 

In response to this problem, the Apples for Glycemic Control team is developing a bioactive-rich product from discarded apples into a natural, readily available supplement. This solution will help pre-diabetics and those susceptible to Type 2 Diabetes intercept the disease earlier. 

Ultimately, Andrew and Richard want to get this product on the market. 

"I would like to see this thing on the shelf. It's exciting to me to see how this currently low value natural resource could become a real, useful product.” Andrew says. 

"What we have sitting in the orchard is a natural health bomb. It's just sitting there waiting to be utilised, and we believe this is the best way to use it. We want to use our fantastic skill base, all the way from growing apples to testing new health products in clinical trials.  We want to leverage all that knowledge in our team to solve this global problem that so many people face.”

Richard, Andrew, and their team already have the technical knowledge and resources to bring this life-changing product to life. However, they are fully aware of their limitations.

"It's of no use if nobody buys it. We don't know what we don't know about the next steps to commercialisation and how to learn about our customers. We believe this Sprout programme will make it less opaque," says Richard.

Since starting the Accelerator, they have been impressed by what they are learning. Already, in their early research, the value of the opportunity for their product surprised them both. 

Their next steps are clear: "We need to understand our customers, and we need to get some food-safe products for clinical trials."

Both men could easily list scientists who inspire them, but they are new to the world of entrepreneurship. 

Andrew instead pointed to his former Plant & Food Research colleague, a Sprout Alumni, for inspiration. Dr Andrew Kralicek turned to Sprout Accelerator in 2020 to identify how to commercialise his discovery, Scentian Bio.

β€œHe is down-to-earth and has worked so hard to find a way to bring his science to a useful product to customers in the real world.” 

Apples for Glycemic Control want to do the same. Using their innovative approach to using apple byproducts as a natural, easy-to-access supplement is a beacon of hope for people with pre-diabetes and high glucose levels. 

About Sprout: Sprout Agritech LP is an early-stage investor specialising in transformational technologies that impact how life on Earth is nourished and sustained. Through the Sprout Accelerator, they have helped grow more than 110 early-stage ventures within the agri and food industries, which have collectively gone on to raise over $60m in capital.