Partnerships with purpose


Partnerships with purpose

Bühler has consciously driven an ecosystem-based approach to innovation for more than 15 years with the goal of forming businesses that contribute to solving some of the burning issues of our times. Through collaboration we can do this faster. Today, our growing global network of academic partners, start-ups, NGOs, customers, and suppliers contribute to delivering pioneering technology and business solutions that help to meet the needs of a growing global population sustainably. Here are some examples of our many partnerships.

Partnerships and our KPIs

Our partnerships are aligned with our sustainability strategy and with our material topics, advancing research, innovation, and investment in these areas. Some of those that have a particularly strong contribution to achieving our specific KPIs are highlighted here.


The Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich is an interdisciplinary scientific research group aiming to generate a better understanding of global ecology to inform and address biodiversity loss and climate change. The Crowther lab has supported the Bühler Networking Days in 2019 and 2022. Prof. Dr. Tom Crowther also advises Bühler to ensure our actions and programs, such as the Environmental Quantification Program, have a positive impact and consider all elements of sustainability (for example, biodiversity, land use, etc.). Prof. Dr. Crowther has been a member of Bühler’s Sustainability Committee since 2021.

Bühler and Vyncke announced their partnership in March 2021 to offer Vyncke’s solutions for burning biomass by-products to provide clean energy for Bühler’s food and feed customers. Today, energy is becoming one of the most critical levers for business success. By combining our solutions with Vyncke’s expertise, sustainability, and economic criteria go hand in hand: the circular system using steam boilers enables customers to significantly reduce their CO2e emissions and save costs. 

The biggest project so far resulted in savings of 250 tonnes of fuel oil per day, which brings a reduction of CO2e emissions in a parboiler plant of 60%. By adding Vyncke's energy recovery processes to Bühler’s portfolio, customers can achieve low- to zero-carbon food solutions. Bühler and Vyncke aim at equipping 20% of Bühler’s relevant installed base and 80% of new greenfield rice/oat plants with Vyncke solutions to reduce CO2e emissions. 

In July 2022, the partnership was extended. At its headquarters, Bühler has invested in reducing its CO2e emissions by building the Energy Recovery Center together with Vyncke. Bühler operates many Application & Training Centers to test and develop new processes and recipes for end products together with customers. These facilities produce about 550 tonnes of biomass annually at the Uzwil site. Bühler and Vyncke use this biomass, which includes, for example, wheat bran and cocoa shells, to generate CO2e-neutral energy and heat offices in winter. Together with other measures already implemented at the site – such as switching to wood pellets – it is estimated that the Energy Recovery Center will reduce CO2e emissions for heating energy by over 60% (reference year 2015). Over the winter we are evaluating the potential savings effect. Moreover, the facility is open to customers for demonstration and testing purposes to further develop integrated energy efficiency solutions. 

Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), an independent nonprofit organization, is working to strengthen food security, improve nutrition, and increase economic development across Africa by expanding and increasing the competitiveness of the food processing sector. They link corporate volunteers from their partner companies such as General Mills, DSM, Cargill, Ardent Mills, Smucker’s, and Hershey with promising entrepreneurs in 12 African countries. Bühler joined the initiative in 2013.

Bühler is committed to enabling greater access to affordable and healthy food. The partnership with PFS is one lever for Bühler to contribute to food security and to reach local communities in 12 African countries. Providing solutions on an industrial scale means that Bühler does not have the solutions that fit for small entrepreneurs on a technical solution level but can nevertheless share know-how and expertise to a very crucial group within the food system.

Employees who contribute as a volunteer report that it is a very meaningful learning experience for them, a way to think out of the box, to explore other cultures, and to connect with very inspiring talents in the African food industry. 

Bühler plays a unique role within PFS given its footprint in Africa. The PFS team in the 12 African countries is connected with the Bühler offices in the same countries.  

Over the year, 68 Bühler employees engaged in 71 different activities contributing more than 870 hours while working with 60 customers across ten countries. PFS estimates that by sharing Bühler expertise it has helped a supplier base of more than 171,000 farmers and helped produce nearly 6.2 billion nutritious meal servings.

Bühler and the Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik e.V. (DIL), a research institute focusing on food technology and food science, teamed up in 2020 to develop new production technologies for alternative protein products. New sustainable plant-based proteins have a significantly lower environmental impact and a lower CO2e footprint than the animal meat value chain. It is therefore essential to explore and identify alternative and underused sources of protein and develop efficient technologies to convert these into attractive, marketable products. A key technology to unlock this opportunity is extrusion. High moisture extrusion enables the conversion of plant proteins into food products with textures similar to meat. It is a technology in which Bühler leads the market. 

The DIL campus in Quakenbrück, Germany, provides state-of-the-art food safety labs, pilot plants, and research capabilities. With DIL, Bühler has a partner that can provide food grade tests and production labs combined with extensive analytical services. In 2021, Bühler and DIL opened the Technology Center Proteins of the Future to make a vital contribution to closing the protein gap. At this facility, customers and start-ups prototype new products and upscale to full production capacity in a full-scale extrusion plan while benefiting from comprehensive consultancy services.

Bühler has been present on the campus of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) since 2015. The Bühler Innovation office was established at the EPFL Innovation Park to foster collaborations with EPFL centers (for example, Swiss Data Science Center, Integrative Food & Nutrition Center, Center of MicroNanoTechnology), research laboratories, start-ups, and spin-offs. The collaborations, including joint student internships and master projects, have also been key to ensuring continuous access to future talents for Bühler in all engineering fields taught at EPFL.

In 2023, ten students from EPFL completed their Industrial Master thesis and Master internship at Bühler for periods of four to six months. They worked on innovation projects in the field of data science, energy, and pulsed electric field for bioprocessing. In parallel, Bühler developed new collaborations with laboratories in the field of granular materials and energy efficiency. Bühler data scientists have also been embedded on the campus since 2018 to collaborate closely with the Swiss Data Science Center. In 2023, the team continued developing new digital services aiming at optimizing the efficiency of the processing plants and equipment of Bühler’s customers, while investigating the potential of new AI algorithms.

In 2023, Bühler also engaged with EPFL to bring One Young World Switzerland conference to the campus. For two days, young leaders, scientists and several organizations exchanged and worked together to bring solutions to three key challenges: climate action, cross-sector collaboration, and mental health.

As a founding partner of the World Food System Centre at ETH Zurich, Bühler and Migros funded the assistant Professorship in Sustainable Food Processing. In 2022, Alex Mathys received his full professorship for this role. 

Since 2022, Bühler, Givaudan, and Nestlé have supported ETH Zurich in strengthening research and teaching in the field of food technology and nutrition. Together, they are providing ETH Zurich via the ETH Foundation with CHF 5 million over the next six years for research and teaching. The companies’ contribution will go towards creating a new professorship in food engineering for nutrition at the Department of Health Sciences and Technology (D- HEST). In addition, it will be used to enable scientific work at the doctoral or postdoctoral level and to fund research projects in the newly created research group. 

Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) and Bühler announced the deployment of Bühler’s state-of-the-art Stellar Gemini system at SEC’s Urban Microalgae Protein project laboratory in Singapore in August 2022. The Stellar technology, a world first developed by Bühler, is based on nanosecond pulsed electric fields. It will be used to increase the efficiency and yield of microalgae processing. The project aims to enhance Singapore’s food security by establishing resilient, sustainable, and cost-effective agri-food production systems using microalgae-based food products. 

Bühler is a founding industry partner with ETH Zurich in Switzerland and Ashesi University in Ghana offering a master’s program in mechatronics engineering since 2020. Swiss companies such as ABB, BarryCallebaut, Lafarge Holcim, and Nestlé are also partners in this project, supporting through funding and scholarships. All partners will offer internships at their African branches, equipping the students with the skills needed in the labor market. The respective students will be absorbed in the partnering companies to strengthen their African skill-base.  

The three-year program equips students with specialist competencies and a wide range of skills to pursue careers in production and automation. Each year, 25 to 30 students will join the master's program from all over Sub-Saharan Africa; candidates are selected based on their knowledge, skills, motivation, and leadership potential. The program aims to promote the next generation of leaders in Sub-Saharan Africa who will take responsibility for sustainable development in the region.

Bühler and Jiangnan University founded the Future Food Center in 2020, which is equipped with Bühler’s twin screw extruders PolyCool 50 and BCTM-30 for small-scale and pilot-scale research on plant-based foods.

Jiangnan University and Bühler established the Protein Industry Alliance (IPIA) and held the Future Food Summit in May 2021 with industry partners such as Givaudan, Glanbia, Wufangzhai, Haidilao Research Institute, Dongsheng Biotech, and Jinnong Biologicals. In October 2022, the IPIA launched the Innovative Protein Challenge. The goal of the challenge was to promote the development of the innovative protein industry, helping Chinese start-ups in the field of innovative protein to solve the challenge of large-scale production. Start-ups Megameat, Xland, and CellX were announced as winners in July 2023. 

One Young World (OYW) was the catalyst for the Generation B movement in 2016 and continues to be a source of inspiration and a valuable partner. One Young World is a non-profit organization that convenes young leaders from around the world to develop solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Bühler sends delegates to the summit every year to inspire members of the organization to drive change. One of these change vehicles is Generation B.

In 2019 Bühler and Generation B hosted their first OYW Caucus, a local version of the OYW Summit, with founder Kate Robertson attending in person in the CUBIC. In 2021, Bühler and Generation B held their second OYW Caucus, this time in partnership with Arosa Tourismus, where 300 young and young-at-heart leaders from companies and universities across Europe came together to contribute to the OYW Switzerland Caucus in Uzwil and Arosa and online, on June 19 and 20. The Caucus tackled three questions; how we can create start-ups with sustainability at their core, how we can evolve corporations to be sustainable, and how we can make entire industries more sustainable, using tourism as an example. 

In 2022, Bühler hosted the first official OYW Switzerland Caucus, following Switzerland founding One Young World’s first National Board. This event brought together 100 young leaders, with 15 different organizations in Switzerland officially partnering to support the event, and truly enabling the vision of the Swiss National Board to identify, connect and promote Switzerland’s most impactful young leaders.

UNITECH was founded in 2000 for the academic and corporate worlds to jointly develop a group of talented young engineers to enable them to manage future challenges in global industry and to help bridge the gap between the corporate and academic world. Bühler has partnered with UNITECH since 2014 and has employed more than 29 UNITECH Alumni within the company. Sandra Lutz, Head of the Wafer business unit at Bühler, sits on the board of UNITECH and Jay O’Nien, Environmental Impact Services Lead at Bühler, is the president of the UNITECH Alumni Association and also sits on the board.

The UNITECH Diploma is awarded to students who complete an academic exchange at one of the partner universities, complete three coaching modules and an internship at one of the corporate partners. Every year, Bühler employs UNITECH interns to run the Environmental Quantification Program, research and development projects, automation and digitalization projects, data science, and Bühler’s product development process.

Restor is accelerating the conservation and restoration of nature for the benefit of people, biodiversity, and climate. Restor connects people and projects to scientific data, monitoring tools, funding, and each other to increase the impact, scale, and sustainability of these efforts. To compensate the environmental impact of the Bühler Networking Days and selected Bühler events, Restor helps Bühler to select, fund, and monitor restoration projects that protect or restore nature and biodiversity, support local job creation, and also reduce atmospheric CO2e concentrations.

Restor and Bühler also collaborate in the context of Bühler Environmental Impact Services to help companies quantify, understand, report, and reduce their environmental footprint. In particular, Restor provides support with the analysis of land use, furthering Bühler’s commitment to help customers quantify and reduce their footprint in line with the Science Based Targets initiative and contribute to biodiversity.

Bühler started its partnership with Big Idea Ventures in 2020 to accelerate the success of promising start-ups creating sustainable food alternatives. Big Idea Ventures is a global hybrid venture capital firm focused on solving the world’s biggest challenges by supporting the world’s best entrepreneurs in the fields of alternative proteins. Through their “New Protein Fund I”, the company has invested in and accelerated 105 alternative protein companies globally. These companies are aligned with the focus areas of Bühler and provide to the Group new technologies. Several of them will become the future customers of Bühler. Big Idea Ventures runs six accelerator programs annually in New York, Singapore, and Paris. 

Icos is a venture capital firm working at the intersection of digital and sustainable industry. By bringing corporations and start-ups together and facilitating strong partnerships with investors, Icos aims to build an ecosystem that helps to accelerate and scale up sustainable solutions. Bühler has worked closely with ICOS since 2014 developing an impactful and promising investment portfolio. 

Bühler has been a partner of this cross-industry start-up accelerator since 2014 and joined MassChallenge Switzerland as a founding partner in 2016. Since 2016, MassChallenge Switzerland has been a leader in helping start-ups across Europe grow their businesses. It has accelerated 720 start-ups across multiple industries that have raised more than USD 1.2 billion in funding and generated over 50,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The Scale It Up! innovation challenge helps start-ups to accelerate and scale their project, product, or solution from a first version to a scalable product ready to be launched. Bühler, Cargill, Givaudan, and Puris, all leaders within the food system value chain, support the start-ups on their journey with their expertise and access to their network and first-class facilities. The first Scale It Up! challenge was held in 2021 and subsequent programs have run in Europe, Singapore, and China.

Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley (SFNV) is a not-for-profit association that aims to unleash the potential of the Swiss food ecosystem and share what Switzerland has to offer food innovators on the global stage. The Valley’s 140 partners range from large enterprises such as ADM, Bühler, dsm-firmenich, Givaudan, Nestlé, and Tetra Pak to government institutions, start-ups, SMEs, and leading academic institutions including ETH Zurich, EPFL and HES-SO. The community is united by a shared commitment to collaborate to develop the most impactful solutions to shape healthier food systems that benefit people and planet. 

CN & Partners AG

Bühler AG and CN & Partners AG in July 2022 announced a partnership to establish the new company, Circular Food Solutions Switzerland AG, based in Lenzburg, Switzerland. The partnership combines Bühler’s processing expertise and intellectual property with CN & Partners’ skills, experience, and network to bring a new solution to the plant-based meat market. The first plant is scheduled to start commercial production early 2024.

A new strategic partnership with German engineering company endeco was formed in June 2022 to drive forward pulse processing, meet growing demand for alternative sources of protein, and develop pulse processing solutions with a significantly lower CO2e footprint. Endeco is specialized in the design and construction of starch and protein plants. Bühler and endeco have built a new Protein Application Center at Bühler’s headquarters in Uzwil, Switzerland, to offer customers end-to-end solutions, from field to meat and dairy substitutes, as well as intermediate ingredients, including all wet and dry processing.  

A joint venture with Austrian pharmaceutical and biotechnology EPCM (Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management) company ZETA was announced in June 2022. The new company, ERIDIA, serves established players and start-ups along the food value chain leveraging cellular agriculture and precision and biomass fermentation. ERIDIA offers support from early-stage consultancy through all stages of engineering, design, and execution management. ZETA is a leader in aseptic processing with international experience in scaling up industrial cell culture and fermentation processes. Bühler is a market leader in providing technology and processing expertise along the food value chain with, among others, expertise in the transformation of biomass into food and feed. ERIDIA, headquartered in Leobendorf, Austria, is a 50/50 joint venture that will develop solutions to meet the rising global demand for sustainable food and feed production. 

Bühler and Flottweg SE from Germany signed a cooperation agreement in June 2022 to offer full value chain solutions to customers in the plant-based protein market. Combining Flottweg’s wet fractionation expertise and Bühler’s dry process expertise allows the two companies jointly to offer integrated solutions and optimized processes with the highest yields, reduced environmental impact, and best quality protein isolates. 

Future Food Initiative was launched by ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) together with Bühler, Givaudan, and Nestlé as the first partners on board. Its goal is to expand research and education in food and nutrition sciences by bringing competences from academic and industrial research together, including through a fellowship program. It is developing solutions that address major challenges such as making packaging more sustainable, for example, through the elimination of plastics, and affordable nutrition, for example to combat deficiencies and starvation globally. The program is co-managed by the World Food System Center at ETH Zurich and the Integrative Food Science and Nutrition Center at EPFL.

Bühler and Hosokawa Alpine Group from Germany have signed a strategic collaboration agreement to accelerate and strengthen the production of healthier and sustainable plant protein solutions. It will provide customers with the most efficient value chain for pulses that are processed into protein ingredients.

As the leading solution provider in pulses processing, Bühler offers solutions for the intake, cleaning, dehulling, and grinding of pulses, and further food processing with its extrusion technology, which texturizes plant-based proteins into products with fibrous texture similar to meat. Hosokawa Alpine complements the production process by adding its leading technology for the dry separation of pulses’ protein: fine grinding and air classification. 

The combination of Bühler’s upstream pulses process and Hosokawa’s process for size reduction and classification produces the highest yields of high value protein concentrates. The partnership will offer customers process technology and expertise along the complete field-to-fork pulses protein chain.

A joint venture with IMDHER S.A. de C.V., a leading player in the animal nutrition market in Mexico, will drive process efficiency, quality, and sustainability in the feed industry. Animal protein remains an important part of human nutrition and global meat consumption is rising. It is therefore essential to ensure that the animal protein value chain is as efficient and sustainable as possible. 

The new company, called IMDHER Bühler, is offering Bühler’s core machines as well as IMDHER’s expertise to IMDHER’s customers, providing solutions that will help them to improve the capacity and efficiency of their operations. IMDHER brings four decades of experience building plants to produce animal feed, including pet food and aqua. The family-owned business is a turnkey supplier to the Mexican feed market, with 20% market share. Bühler has a minority stake of 49% in the joint venture.  

Bühler and MMS AG in Urdorf, Zurich, formed an innovation and technology partnership in June 2022 to drive the development of high functionality ingredients for sustainable meat and dairy analogues. MMS’s expertise in membrane technology enables the separation of valuable components with superior functionality, sensory, and nutritional benefits. In combination with Bühler’s processing expertise and upstream and downstream technologies for the plant-based protein market, the partnership serves the next generation of meat and dairy analogues.  

Premier Tech and Bühler established a fifty-fifty joint venture called Bühler Premier Tech to create new cost-effective packaging solutions and achieve greater success in the global market.

Bühler and Premier Tech entered this strategic partnership in August 2019. Both companies are proud to have in the meantime successfully introduced the products to the market, for both granular and powder products, which are fully developed in the joint venture based on technologies transferred from Premier Tech. This strategy to jointly develop industrial flexible packaging solutions destined for the food and feed markets in China, but also for emerging markets, paid off very well for both companies. 

In October 2022, Bühler joined Upcell, an alliance of European players from industry and universities along the value chain of lithium-ion battery manufacturing. The aim of the Alliance is to scale up development of the battery cell manufacturing ecosystem in Europe by providing one networking platform between equipment and machine builders and battery manufacturers. 

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a global, CEO-led organization of over 225 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world. The member companies come from all business sectors and all major economies, representing a combined revenue of more than USD 8.5 trillion and 19 million employees. With over 50 global network partners, members have unparalleled reach across the globe.

Givaudan and Bühler collaborate on several projects with the aim of finding better, healthier, and more sustainable ways of feeding up to 10 billion people by 2050. In April 2021, the two partners opened the state-of-the-art Protein Innovation Centre. It welcomes food processing companies, start-ups, and university researchers from across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region keen to co-create plant-based food experiences that do good and feel good. The Protein Innovation Centre will not only enable the development of more plant-based protein products across Asia, it will also ensure that products can be scaled to the production volumes required to create a positive environmental impact on food chains.  

In 2022, Bühler became a member of MISTA, a multi-dimensional innovation platform based in San Francisco, US, which has been created to transform the global food system to meet the needs of the future. To enhance the innovation capability of MISTA, Bühler provides expert operators and an extrusion line that will be commissioned in early 2024. The facility supports MISTA partners, as well as start-ups and forms part of Bühler’s North American network to support customers.   

In June 2022, Bühler, Givaudan, and Migros formed a new entity, The Cultured Hub, in Kemptthal near Zurich, to support and accelerate the large-scale development of cultivated food products. The self-sustained enterprise provides other companies with facilities, technology, and expertise to enable the scale-up of production for cultured meats, cultured fish, and seafood.

In October 2023, Bühler and partners Cargill, Givaudan, the Institute of Food Technology (Ital), and the FoodTech HUB Latam opened the Tropical Food Innovation Lab in São Paulo, Brazil. It provides an innovation ecosystem for the development of sustainable food and beverages focused on promoting Brazilian biodiversity. Equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure, the innovation center will connect research institutes, universities, companies, investors, and start-ups providing them access to cutting-edge technology for rapid prototyping and direct connection to global food and beverage science.

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