If you are a fledgling entrepreneur in the food space looking to gain exposure and garner funding for your groundbreaking business concept, one approach is to target and apply to pitch events and incubator programs. Even if you don’t make it to the finals or capture the top prizes, these competitions and programs help you hone your marketing and business skills, test your idea, bring you in contact with funders and mentors, and make you part of the startup community.
Here’s a rundown of pitch contests and incubators to keep on your radar for 2020.
FoodBytes by Rabobank bills itself as a next-generation pitch competition and networking platform that builds lasting connections between the most promising food and agriculture startups, corporates, and investors. Since Rabobank launched the pitch competitions in 2015, 265 startups have pitched on the FoodBytes! stage, 38 have been awarded prizes, 1,500 startups have applied from 35 countries, and about 4,700 people have attended the live events in North America, Europe and Australia. In 2019, FoodBytes by Rabobank hosted pitch competitions in London, Chicago and San Francisco. For information on 2020 events, visit https://www.foodbytesworld.com.
Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Week will take place November 18–20, 2020 in Singapore. In 2019, the event featured a presummit pitch competition of 14 startup companies nominated by leading Singapore agri-food accelerators. The winning startup, Singrow, presented their breakthrough technology for indoor strawberry farming to the event’s audience of 800 delegates. For more information, visit https://agrifoodinnovation. com. The organizer of Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Week is Rethink Events, which hosts the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, March 17–18, 2020, San Francisco.
Global Agripreneurs Summit sponsored by Future Agro Challenge features the FAC Global Championships, where the winning “agripreneur” from numerous nations across five continents competes for the title of “Agripreneur of the Year” and receives dedicated resources to help them grow their business and expand into new markets. In 2019, the competition included 41 finalists. For more information, visit https://facagro.com/compete.
IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM is designed to help emerging and investment-ready companies gain visibility and make strategic connections to help advance the science of food and its positive impact on the sustainability of our global food supply. Five finalists compete in a live pitch event at IFT’s Annual Event and Food Expo for a chance to be crowned the IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor of the Year™ and receive a $25,000 cash prize as well as a $5,000 People’s Choice Award. For more information, visit https://www.ift.org/iftnext/food-disruption-challenge.
Chobani Incubator is a program for startups taking on broken food systems to bring better food to more people. In addition to a $25,000 equity-free grant, the company provides startups access to its network and expertise in order to scale up their operations and achieve significant growth. The 3- to 4-month program consists of on-site programming in New York and visits to Chobani manufacturing facilities, retailers, and trade shows. Program topics include sustainability, nutrition, team building and scaling, branding and marketing, pricing, packaging and food labeling, food safety and quality, and innovation. For more information, visit https://chobaniincubator.com.
ProVeg Incubator is a global food accelerator program shaping the future of food through disruptive plant-based and cellbased food solutions. It supports startups that aim to transform global food culture with tools to create, collaborate, grow, and scale ideas that replace traditional animal-based foods. The deadline for applications for the 3-month program is January 31, 2020. For more information, visit https://provegincubator.com.
Springboard Incubator Program from Kraft Heinz was created to turn startups with disruptive products and brands into thriving companies in the food and beverage industry. Upon acceptance into the program, companies receive $50,000 in funding and have the opportunity to receive up another $50,000 during the program. They also have access to tailored learning from senior leaders, media training, internal and external business consulting, culinary kitchens, pilot plant facilities, and dedicated workspace. For more information, visit https://www.springboardbrands.com.