CEO Spotlight: Laura Knight, COO, The Smarter Food Company

Our ‘CEO Spotlight’ series seeks to recognise the wide range of diverse innovators we work with and support. In the most recent instalment, we hear from Laura Knight, COO of The Smarter Food Company, to learn more about her background, journey and upcoming plans:

The technology behind Smarter Food and its potential is hugely exciting. For me the business ticks several significant boxes; the opportunity to deliver enormous societal benefit on a global scale, a very attractive business model and all the challenge and fun (mostly!) of establishing a start-up and its transition into a viable and profitable SME.

Most people, I think, would say I have an entrepreneurial spirit. Smarter Food is my third venture.  My previous businesses have been in very different sectors but both were D2C with successful exits; one to a global brand and the other to a VC backed company. My background is in marketing and corporate affairs and I was a director of a London based marketing communications company before joining a large FMCG multi-national with an Asia-Pacific remit based in Hong Kong and an executive board role in Australia.

Smarter Food is a spin-out from the Quadram Institute, one of the UK’s leading food and health research organisations.  With a natural interest in translational and applied science I was part of the founding team behind the company, having joined Quadram as Head of Corporate Affairs. When the opportunity arose I was very pleased to accept the role of driving the Smarter Food Company forward.

We have a good team and the company is extremely well supported by our shareholders. We are very pleased to have UKI2S as an investor – they can always be relied upon to provide constructive advice and help whenever it’s needed.  They have a large network and have been willing to provide introductions to pertinent groups and individuals as our company has evolved.  Many people in my position say they can feel lonely in their role. I don’t generally feel this way as I share the burden of the problems the business faces with the team and take a collective approach to decision making.

We have a busy year ahead as we are working towards making our product commercially available during 2022, subject to raising further investment to make this happen. Alongside this activity we will be continuing with our clinical trial to confirm the data we already have that our product  (a vegetable soup) reduces elevated blood glucose by consuming just one portion per week.

My advice to anyone taking the plunge to establish a new business is to be resilient, determined and maintain confidence, enthusiasm and belief in what you are doing whilst staying open to accepting advice from others. The path of a new business is never straightforward and many setbacks should be expected. However steering a fledgling business on its journey to success is very rewarding as you start to realise key milestones and targets.