Participant information

The IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM provides a high-profile opportunity for entrepreneurs working in the technology, food, and science of food related spaces an opportunity to share, be recognized for, and pitch their unique innovations and disruptive solutions to a motivated and influential group of investors and mentors, not to mention potential customers. 

Whether you’re an emerging company or one that is investment-ready, IFT’s IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM competition is a great way for you to gain visibility and make strategic connections. 
Visit the tabs below to learn more about how your company can participate in this exciting competition opportunity.  

  • Eligibility criteria
  • Application and selection process
  • Competition rules
  • Awards


The IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM competition is for entrepreneurs developing innovative products in the food and technology related fields from: 

  • Private and public sectors 
  • Accelerators and/or incubators 
  • Academic Institutions 
  • International as well as domestic startups 

Technology Startups Are Also Welcome 

This competition is not only for food science and technology entrepreneurs, but is also open to startups companies who represent any component of technology related to food, such as internet, mobile, clean tech, web-based applications, cloud, ERP, SaaS, etc. 

Criteria for participating in IFTNEXT’s Food Disruption ChallengeTM: 

  • The startup company’s primary business focus needs to be in food or technology related domains and may cover any component of technology which enhances the science of food.
  • The entrepreneur/organization must be an operating and registered entity as either a proprietary firm, partnership firm, limited liability partnership, or private limited in the country they are representing. 
  • The company must be in business, have a product or service clearly defined and must be in the Pre-Series A Round (seed stage). 
  • There is no cost to participate in Stages 1-3 of the competition. Costs may be incurred for finalists attending the pitch competition. 


There are three stages of review prior to being selected as a finalist for the IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM

STAGE 1: Submission Deadline February 8, 2018

IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM competition participants are required to submit their Stage 1 application via the IFTNEXT Disruption ChallengeTM online submission form no later than February 8, 2018. Applications must be completed and submitted to be considered (partially completed or "in-process" entries will not be considered). There is no cost to apply or present at the final pitching competition.

STAGE 2: Submission Deadline March 16, 2018

All applicants who meet the eligibility requirements, move onto Stage 2. Applications for Stage 2 will open on February 19, 2018. At this stage applicants will be evaluated on the following: 

  • customer needs being addressed
  • competitive business models, and
  • effective and innovative use of technology

Applicants will be informed about the status of their submission by email by February 16, 2018, and will be asked to complete the Stage 2 online form. A link to this form will be provided in the notification email.

STAGE 3: Submission Deadline April 6, 2018

All applicants from Stage 2 will be informed about the status of their submission by email. Finalists from Stage 2 will be invited to make a 3 – 5 minute virtual pitch presentation to a small panel (5-7 panelists) for finalist consideration. 
The pitch presentations will be held after April 23, 2018. More details on this session to be provided closer to date.

FINAL STAGE: Mentoring Program Begins May 14, 2018

Six finalists will be selected and invited to enter a six weeks mentoring program created specifically to prepare the founders to live pitch event at IFT18 on July 17, 2018. Each of the 6 finalist companies will be awarded a $1,100 stipend for travel related expenses, with 2 comp registrations to IFT18.


Finalists will be asked to present their 4-minute pitch as part of a Food Disruption ChallengeTM featured session at IFT18. IFT18 will be held in Chicago, Illinois, July 15-18, 2018. Prior to the live IFT18 featured pitch session, finalists will be required to submit their final pitch presentation in PDF format only. If animations are used, slides will need to be replicated and formatted for static PDF viewing and sent at least one week before the live event. Details regarding this session will be sent to finalists upon notification of their finalist status. 
PLEASE NOTE: IFT reserves the right to disqualify submissions not adhering to the application requirements at any stage of the competition. In some instance, IFT may request resubmission in the event that application criteria are not met.  


In addition to IFT’s Food Disruption ChallengeTM competition, IFT also provides another great way to feature your start-up company to the large, targeted audience attending IFT’s annual event. This unique opportunity is called Start-Up Alley and at the fraction of the cost of a full exhibitor booth.

The IFTNEXT Start-up Alley is a unique opportunity for cutting-edge food entrepreneurs to showcase innovative products and ideas to a worldwide audience at IFT18, IFT’s annual meeting. IFT’s annual meeting is recognized as the world’s largest annual science of food event attracting over 20,000 professionals from more than 90 countries.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to increase exposure and awareness of your company’s new product or service by participating in the IFTNEXT Start-up Alley event at the upcoming IFT18  annual meeting.

Learn more about the IFTNEXT Start-Up Alley.

Secure your Start-Up Alley booth today!

Contact Patrick Simmons at 312.604.0280 to learn more.


In addition to competition application and selection criteria, please note the following: 

  • The IFTNEXT Food Challenge DisruptionTM committee reserves the right to request for proof for critical information furnished by the contestants with reference to their business. 
  • Any misrepresentation of facts will lead to automatic disqualification from the contest. 
  • The decision of the selection committee will be final. 
  • The finalists have to be present via Skype (or such virtual media) at the Stage 3 finalist pitch presentation session after April 23, 2018. The time will be provided to you and it will be in the Central Standard Time zone. 
  • All prizes are subject to any applicable withholdings or taxes, including withholding on U.S. source income.  Winners will be required to provide IFT with any required information or executed forms before prizes will be paid. 
  • This contest is void where prohibited.  IFT may be prohibited from accepting entries or awarding prizes from residents of certain foreign countries under regulations of the United States Treasury or the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control.  Prizes will only be awarded in compliance with applicable United States laws.  IFT reserves the right to reject applications, withdraw prizes or terminate the contest when in the best interests of IFT. 
  • Rules can be changed without prior notice. 

Questions? Please contact


The IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM competition will award two high-profile awards. 

  1. IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor of the Year AwardTM 
    $25,000 cash reward 
    This award will be determined by a panel of judges comprised of esteemed science of food leaders and venture capitalists. 
  2. IFTNEXT People’s Choice Future Food Disruptor AwardTM 
    $5,000 cash reward 
    This award will be determined by attendees during the Food Disruption ChallengeTM IFT18 featured session. 

All the Food Disruption ChallengeTM finalists, including awardees, will also receive other prizes offered by our sponsors. Examples of services being considered include: legal services, tech services, financial services, and additional mentoring services. 

Connect with Other Food Disruptors

Join the IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge'sTM Facebook group to stay-up-to-date with competition information, meet and share insights other entrepreneurs, and be informed about competition developments.


Be sure to reference our helpful FAQ webpage. Should you have any further questions about the competition, please direct them to

IFTNEXT is generously supported by Ingredion Incorporated, IFT’s IFTNEXT Platinum Innovation Sponsor.

Ingredion Incorporated