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.

Applications for the 2019 IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge™ have closed. Join us at IFT19 in New Orleans on June 4, to learn who will become the next IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor of the Year™!


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 January 10, 2019

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 January 10, 2019. 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.

All applicants who complete the initial application (1 application per company) will get:

  • Coupon code for complimentary registration to IFT webcast/live event before June 2019 
  • Invitation to sign up for free Weekly and IFTNEXT newsletters 
  • Your company contact info shared with competition sponsors, furthering your exposure 
  • PDFs of 3 Food Tech articles—What America Eats, Top 10 Functional Food Trends, and Food Accelerators and Incubators—to them 

STAGE 2: Submission Deadline February 28, 2019

All applicants will be notified of their submission status by e-mail on or before February 4, 2019. Applications for Stage 2 will open on February 4, 2019, for those who meet the eligibility requirements and move on to Stage 2.

Advancing applicants will be asked to complete the Stage 2 online form. A link to this form will be provided in the notification email. At this stage applicants will be evaluated on the following:

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

All applicants who advance and complete the Phase 2 application will receive:

  • Complimentary 1-year digital subscription to Food Technology magazine 
  • Coupon code for 30% off one IFT course (online or in-person)
  • A listing as a semi-finalist on our website for additional exposure 

STAGE 3: April 8-10, 2019

All applicants from Stage 2 will be informed about the status of their submission by email. Finalists from Stage 2 will be invited to participate in a virtual session with a panel of judges. More details on this session to be provided closer to date.

All applicants who advance and complete Phase 3 will receive:

  • Complimentary 1-year IFT Networking & Engagement membership (one individual membership per applicant company)

FINAL STAGE: Pitch Coaching Begins in May

Finalists will be selected and invited to participate in group and individual pitch coaching, designed specifically to prepare the founders for the live pitch event at IFT19 on June 4, 2019. Each of the finalist companies will be awarded a $1,100 stipend for travel related expenses, with 2 comp registrations to IFT19.

All applicants who move on and compete in the final pitch event at IFT19 will receive:

  • 1 IFT Press book of their choice (1 per company) 
  • 1 complimentary 30-day job posting in IFT’s Career Center to help you build your team


Finalists will be asked to present their 4-minute pitch as part of a Food Disruption ChallengeTM featured session at IFT19. IFT19 will be held in New Orleans, LA, USA, June 2-5, 2019. Prior to the live IFT19 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 IFT19, 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 IFT19 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 must participate in a virtual session for Phase 3 (using Skype or similar platform with details provided by IFT). Each finalist will have their own time slot, scheduled between April 8-10, 2019. The time will be provided to you and it will be in the Central Standard Time zone.
  • Each applicant company reserves the rights to its company’s intellectual property. All application reviewers will be required to complete a non-disclosure agreement. The judges for the final pitch event will also be required to complete a non-disclosure agreement.  Finalists’ products will be showcased in IFT marketing including company names, product description, website URL, and contact information. This information will also be provided to sponsors, judges, and mentors to support and encourage networking opportunities. Use of the applicant company name and intellectual property shall be governed by the official rules for the contest. 
  • The final pitch event, which will take place at IFT19 in New Orleans, will be an IFT featured session where audience members will hear each finalist’s pitch information. This event may also be videotaped and shared via IFT’s website and social media channels after the event.
  • Previous winners of the IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM Future Food Disruptor of the Year Award are not eligible to participate in future IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge competitions.
  • 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 YearTM Award
    $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 Future Food Disruptor of the YearTM People’s Choice Award 
    $5,000 cash reward 
    This award will be determined by attendees during the IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM IFT19 featured session. 

All the IFTNEXT 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