CHICAGO – January 31, 2024 – The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a nonprofit scientific organization with global members spanning academia, government, and industry and committed to advancing the science of food and its application across the global food system, is proud to announce the return of the large format Startup Pavilion to IFT FIRST in 2024. This popular showcase of global food and food tech startups attracted nearly 9,000 visitors and featured more than 85 companies from 14 countries last year with innovations ranging from technological solutions that improve ingredient quality and safety to innovative consumers goods already on the market. Only 100 total spots are available.

The Startup Pavilion brings together food startups and food-related startups in all stages of growth to McCormick Place in Chicago, the site of IFT’s annual event. This year’s event, which is expected to attract more than 17,000 ingredient providers, business leaders, product developers, food scientists and other members of the science of food community, is being held July 14-17, 2024.

“The Startup Pavilion is an exciting opportunity for innovative startups from across the globe to showcase their solutions to investors, key decision-makers, and industry stakeholders that they may not otherwise have access to,” said IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean. “The Startup Pavilion encapsulates this year’s IFT FIRST theme of collaboration and innovation as we highlight game-changing products and applications with the potential to transform the food system.”

Also returning this year as part of the Startup Pavilion is The Pitch, a multi-stage rapid-pitch competition spanning three days where startups compete for prizes totaling $15,000. Each round of the competition is judged by a panel of professionals who represent the entire global food ecosystem, including those from venture capitalist firms and startup incubators, innovation leaders, academic researchers, research and design professionals, and government officials. Finalists from The Pitch will once again have the opportunity to attend an invitation-only founders and funders networking event that connects startups and social enterprises with potential investors and supporting partners.

Last year, Helaina, a biotech company whose technology platform replicates bioactive functional proteins found in the body, took home The Pitch grand prize of $10,000. SnapDNA, whose groundbreaking technology reduces pathogen detection in food from days to hours, and unClassic foods, which creates a plant-based meat substitute from oyster mushrooms, were selected as runners-up, each receiving $2,500. The prize money for The Pitch is provided by the Seeding The Future Foundation.

"By recognizing and supporting game-changing new approaches highlighted by participants in the Startup Pavilion, The Pitch, and the Global Food System Challenge, we move closer to the goal of implementing creative and impactful solutions that can provide the growing global population with equitable access to affordable, safe, and nutritious food,” added Seeding The Future Foundation founder Bernhard van Lengerich, PhD.

In partnership with IFT, the Seeding The Future Foundation funds the annual Seeding The Future Global Food System Challenge, which invites scientists, engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and multidisciplinary teams to submit their game-changing innovations that will help transform the food system. each vying for part of the $1 million that is awarded to Grand Prize, Growth Grant, and Seed Grant winners. At IFT FIRST, winners from this year's Challenge will discuss their winning innovations with attendees and are also invited to join The Pitch finalists at the founders and funders networking event."

Secure a spot in the Startup Pavilion.

Attendee and exhibitor registration opens March 1, 2024. To start planning for IFT FIRST, go to

About Institute of Food Technologists

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a global organization of over 11,000 individual members from more than 100 countries committed to advancing the science of food. Since 1939, IFT has brought together the brightest minds in food science, technology and related professions from academia, government, and industry to solve the world’s greatest food challenges. IFT works to ensure that its members have the resources they need to learn, grow, and innovate to advance the science of food as the population and the world evolve. IFT believes that science and innovation is essential to ensuring a global food supply that is sustainable, safe, nutritious, and accessible to all. For more information, please visit

Media Contact

Dennis Van Milligen
Director, Public and Media Relations
Institute of Food Technologists
[email protected]

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