Startups, take note. The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation (aka, the “Foundation”) is now taking applications for the second cohort of its Innovation Fund. The program, done in partnership with Village Capital, looks for companies developing new technologies, processes, and other solutions that combat food waste.
The Foundation says this could include rescuing and upcycling “imperfect” food. “Upcycled food is the next frontier in recovering and repurposing food that may otherwise go to landfills,” the Foundation said in a statement this week. In this context, upcycling could mean either using discarded food to create new foods (e.g., upcycled cookies), ingredients, or even meal kits. The program also lumps food rescue — selling surplus food to consumers — as part of the upcycling process, too.
Both areas are becoming more popular in the U.S., with companies like Imperfect Foods, Misfits Market, Renewal Mill, and Goodfish leading the way. Imperfect was actually a part of the first cohort for the Innovation Fund, along with Food Forest, mobius, Replate, and others. About 400 startups applied for the first cohort, so we can expect as many if not more vying for a spot in this next installment of the program.
The six-month-long Kroger program includes one week of virtual programming followed by monthly cohort sessions. The entire program runs from late May through November 2021.
A total of 10 startups will be selected from the applicant pool. Selected companies each receive $100,000 in upfront seed grant funding, with the chance for an additional $100,000 grant based on “achievement of identified program milestones.” Virtual workshops that cover investment readiness and technical skill development, and also provides networking opportunities with mentors and potential investors.
Two startups of the chosen 10 will be picked at the end of six months to receive an additional $250,000 in funding.
Applications are open until April 1, 2021.