Big food continues to seek big innovation by inviting younger, leaner startups to participate in food- and beverage-focused accelerator and incubator programs. This week, PepsiCo announced it will be holding a second North American cohort for its Greenhouse accelerator program, which works with small CPGs operating out of the U.S. and Canada.
According to the press announcement, Pepsi will choose 10 startups to participate in the six-month program. Selected companies will receive $20,000 in funding and work with PepsiCo personnel on product development, supply chain management, media relations, and sales and distribution, among other areas early-stage startups must address. At the end of the program, one company will be awarded an additional $100,000 in funding.
To be eligible for the program, companies must be based out of the U.S. or Canada, have a product or service currently available in the market, and have more than $1 million in annual revenue, according to the Greenhouse Accelerator website.
Pepsi says is also looking for what it calls “purpose-driven” brands — i.e., companies whose products or services address issues in the food system, such as plant-based protein, sustainable packaging, and finding more natural ingredients for food and beverage products.
Greenhouse is one of a growing number of food-focused accelerator and incubator programs run by major CPGs, including those by Chobani, Barilla, Mars, and many others. Part of the motivation behind this trend is that programs such as these are simple ways for large food companies to access new products, service, and technologies without spending huge amounts of money on R&D — an area they typically only allocate about 1 to 2 percent of their budget to.
Pepsi launched Greenhouse in 2017 in Europe before expanding the program to North America in 2018. Past participants of the program include Hapi Drinks, who makes sugar-free kids’ beverages to fight childhood obesity; YoFit, a plant-based beverage company that makes high-protein “milk” out of chickpeas; and alt-seafood company Sophie’s Kitchen.
Applications for the Greenhouse Accelerator are open until January 6, 2020.