In 2020, a group of leading global food manufacturers and producers partnered with MassChallenge to find and collaborate with startups, so that together, they could help feed the planet sustainably. Over 800 startups have applied to the challenge, 125 being connected to our partners. Of these, over half were involved in follow up with our partners. In 2021-22, we opened up the challenge again. Our partners – Nestlé, Bühler, Givaudan, Barry Callebaut, LDC, DSM and Südzucker – are looking for startups or SME’s, with proven solutions or technologies in the areas of sustainable food production, ingredients and side-stream utilization.
The Challenge identifies later-stage startups or scaleups and matches them with a MassChallenge partner to accelerate innovation in the food sector. Selected startups will work directly with key stakeholders within a global food corporate where they’ll get access to co-development opportunities, product validation, customer connections, strategic investments, or advisor introductions. Startups with a prototype or working proof of concept are encouraged to apply.
Benefits for the startups selected
1) A direct pathway to multi-national corporations: If shortlisted by our partners, MassChallenge will introduce you to representatives of the partners, including senior R&D, open innovation managers, sustainability executives and business unit heads. You will talk to the right stakeholders in these organisations, you will have their full attention from the start and will explore ways to collaborate with them.
2) The ability to scale your technology with them: After the initial meeting we foresee a detailed sharing of information, most likely covered by a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and then the creation of a joint pilot to evaluate the scaling potential of the product. Startups could then become suppliers to the corporation, partners in some form of venture or receive investment. Every step is totally at the corporation and startups discretion, and there is no obligation to proceed unless the startup and corporation wish.
3) Publicity and more connections: Each corporate partner will invite one of the startups that they shortlisted to our flagship event, the MassChallenge Sustainable Food Solutions Challenge Day, in April 2022. There, the startup invited will present their solution to all of our corporate partners, resulting in more connections and the potential to work with other corporates. This event will most likely be virtual (e.g. via Zoom) and will be subject to press releases from MassChallenge and some of our corporate partners, providing visibility to the startups.