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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.