Chicago

While developing food technology has been a priority for many since the beginning of last century, it’s only been in recent years the concept of startup accelerators/incubators has taken hold.

It seems, though, that foodtech is making up for lost time. Startups are everywhere now, from new takes on the meal kit concept to vertical farming platforms to managing pesticide levels. And everyone from Tyson to IKEA to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is getting involved. Last year saw some noteworthy programs from NYC’s Food-X, the student-focused Fund the Food, and Chobani’s incubator, for which applications just closed.

If you missed the application deadline for that last one, fear not—2018 will see many more programs geared towards nurturing the next wave of foodtech business, from the farm to the data center. Here are a few of our favorites to keep an eye on in the coming months:

Yield Lab Accelerator

Since growth of plants and/or animals is a huge part of AgTech, Yield Lab’s program runs for nearly a year, either in St. Lous or Europe. Participants can apply to both. Once selected, each company visits its designated location for two-day sessions that take place six times course of nine months. The Yield Lab provides mentoring and networking opportunities, as well as $100,000 in funds. The program begins on March 6, 2018. The application process for St. Louis is open now. Europe will be announced in the near future, according to Yield Lab’s site.

Techstars’ Farm to Fork

Entrepreneurship network Techstars recently announced its Farm to Fork Accelerator, to be held in Minneapolis-St. Paul this summer. The program invites early- and late-stage startups in AgTech, food safety and waste management, and manufacturing to apply. Ecolab and Cargill have partnered with Techstars for the three-month program, which helps companies with finding mentors, product development, and learning how to communicate with investors. Applications close on April 8 2018.

IFTNEXT

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is still taking applications for its six-week-long IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge, which is aimed at helping emerging and investment-ready foodtech startups and entrepreneurs. At the end of the program, IFT will select six finalists (from the 25 participants) to pitch their companies to a panel of judges at the upcoming IFT18 conference. Applications are open until February 8.

TERRA

Tech/startup network RocketSpace teamed up with food- and agriculture-financing company Rabobank to start TERRA, a program is open to a wide range of CPG, AgTech, and foodtech startups alike. Participants head to San Francisco for eight weeks in workshops and mentoring sessions, followed by eight more weeks piloting their businesses. Seed-funded startups are preferred, and applicants’ products should be either in market or ready to launch. Cohort II of TERRA is happening as we speak, but applications are already open for Cohort III.

Food Nest

The Food Nest looks to scale early-stage companies focused on health, wellness, and nutrition to the next phases of their growth. For that, applicants should have at least one proof of concept in market and a run rate between $500,000 and $2 million. The Alameda, CA-based program will select eight to 10 participants from the pool of applicants who will head to program headquarters for four months of curriculum, mentoring, and networking. Companies receive an upfront investment of $40,000 for 5 percent equity in the company. Applications are due by February 28.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Please check out http://www.foodsystem6.org – Food System 6 (FS6) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, focused on fostering innovation that will improve the environmental, physical and social health of the food system. To help advance change in the food system, FS6 works with the most promising for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurs who are developing transformative solutions across the food and agriculture value chain. By working closely with these teams, typically two participants per company, we are able to influence their trajectories and also aggregate a wide range of knowledge about the evolution of our food system that we use to support and educate other stakeholders including corporations, funders, investors, and others.

    FS6 has executed two cohorts with 17 companies, of which 13 are for-profit and 4 are non-profits. Additional information regarding our current portfolio can be found here: http://www.foodsystem6.org/portfolio.html

    Applications are always accepted in advance for future cohorts.

  2. I was super excited when I saw the picture of my “sweet home”, Chicago, at the head of the article only to not have it mentioned in any of the company bios. STL and MIN are of course close, and thankfully not as far as CA or NY where much of the activity is happening in this space, but I’d love to see Chicago on the map. I’m familiar with Good Food, but do you know of any other companies based out of Chicago, namely with a mission for plant based foods?

  3. Hi Jennifer, thank you for the interesting analysis. You should also take a look at EIT FAN (www.eitfan.eu) – a new multi-location, EU funded accelerator programme, created and delivered by some of the biggest names in the European and Global Agri-Food industries, and offering €180,000 in equity free cash prizes.

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