Food Technology Staff

Pitch Your Innovation to IFT: Food Disruption Challenge
Pitch Your Innovation to IFT: Food Disruption Challenge

Calling all seed-stage food-related startups and entrepreneurs. The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is currently accepting applications for its third annual IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge™. The competition, which culminates with a pitch event at the IFT20 Annual Event and Food Expo in Chicago in July, is designed to help fledgling and investment-ready companies gain visibility and make strategic connections to help advance the science of food and to impove the sustainability of our global food supply.

The IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge competition caters to entrepreneurs developing innovative products in the food and technology-related fields from both private and public sectors, accelerators and/or incubators,academic institutions, and global startups. To be eligible for the competition,the applicant 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.In addition, the company must be in business, have a clearly defined product or service, and must be in the pre series A round(seed stage). There is no entry fee. 

To apply, please visit

Competition Stages

Applications for the competition will close on January 9, 2020. In stage 1, all applications will be reviewed by jurors and the top-performing companies will move on to stage 2. These select companies will be asked to complete a more detailed online form, which will be reviewed by jurors who will select the top 10 companies. Each of these 10 companies will provide a virtual pitch session to a panel of jurors, who will choose the five finalists for the live pitch competition at the IFT20 annual event in Chicago in July.

At the live event, each finalist will have four minutes to convince a panel of judges that their innovation is the best of the five being presented. Chosen by the judges, the winner will be crowned the IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor of the Year™ and receive a $25,000 cash prize. In addition, the audience at the live event will vote who they think has the top innovation. Their selection, called the People’s Choice Award, will receive $5,000.

Along with the cash prizes at the live event, the five finalists will receive mentoring by a pitch coach. In addition, they will receive one IFT Press book of their choice (one per company) and one complimentary 30-day job posting in IFT’s Career Center to help build their team. Sponsors of the competition may also provide various services to the finalists such as legal services, tech services, financial services, and additional mentoring services.

Past Winners

At the inaugural IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge pitch event at IFT18 in Chicago, Renewal Mill, which uses a by-product of soy milk production called okara to create a gluten- free flour ingredient, emerged as the winner and captured the $25,000 grand prize. C-fu Foods, which employs a patent-pending process to develop textured insect protein suitable for a wide variety of applications, was chosen by audience vote as the winner of the $5,000 People’s Choice Award. Successful fashion entrepreneur and bestselling author Daymond John, a panelist on the popular television show Shark Tank, served as emcee of the event.

Last year, En Solución, creator of an environmentally friendly postharvest wash solution for leafy greens and produce, won the $25,000 cash prize and was honored as the IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor of the Year. Heliponix, developer of an in-home hydroponic growing device called GroPod, was chosen by audience vote as the recipient of the competition’s $5,000 People’s Choice Award.

Judging Opportunities

For the current competition, IFT is seeking volunteers who have experience working with entrepreneurs or startups to evaluate Food Disruption Challenge applications. The competition features three elimination phases to identify the five finalists who will compete in a high-profile pitching event in front of a panel of judges at IFT’s annual event on July 14, 2020 in Chicago. For more details on volunteering, please visit