Founded by French food cluster Vitagora, the first leg of the zero-equity accelerator programme will run from January until April 2017 and is open to applicants from around the world.
Speaking to FoodNavigator at its SIAL launch this week, communications manager Marthe Jewell said Vitagora has a broad definition of what food tech means and companies working in agricultural-focused technology, manufacturing, retail, foodservice and consumer services were all welcome to apply.
How to apply
The deadline for application is 25 November 2016.
Early and mid-stage start-ups can apply online. Those that make it past the initial pre-selection process will be invited to pitch their business ideas to Vitagora in December.
AcceleRise is an ongoing programme, so if you miss this year's deadline there will be two more intakes for 2017 involving between 15 and 20 companies. Vitagora hopes to increase the number of companies in the future.
Vitagora is particularly interested in exploring new raw materials such as insect protein, microalgae and plant proteins, or new processing techniques such as encapsulation, smart packaging or edible packaging.
But the key thing is “to have great ideas and be open to constructive criticism; we’re not limiting it to specific sectors,” she told us.
"These ideas are somewhat disconnected from a purely digital sphere but might represent strong potential to disrupt food industry practices and
Successful applicants must pay a fee of €5,000 to take part, but the programme is worth around €80,000. The accelerator programme is not-for-profit and is funded through companies’ membership fees.
Vitagora will provide co-working sites across Europe, although participating start-ups must be able to travel to either Dijon or Paris in France one day a week in the initial three-month period for on-site training. This will be followed by a nine-month follow-up period.
The programme will offer both pragmatic support, such as helping start-ups define their business model and a sound business plan or understanding the administrative steps involved in setting up a new enterprise.
It will also connect the entrepreneurs to an international network of contacts at major companies through face-to-face events and trade shows in the UK and US, South Korea and Japan.
Building a foodtech ecosystem
Official partners include the SEB Group, the French kitchen appliance company behind brands such as Tefal, Moulinex and Krupps; agricultural cooperative Invivo and Dijon Cereales, and there is also a network of technical partners and professional mentors that accompany the start-ups during the nine-month period.
"The basis of the mentorship is about contributing positively towards building a foodtech ecosystem. Food professionals who are sharing their experience and industry knowledge in an altruistic fashion."
Mentors already include Nutrisens CEO Georges Devesa, Senagral director Patrick Falconnier and vice president of business development at SEB group Xavier Boidevezi, but Vitagora is on the look-out for more.
"One of the main reasons we set up this accelerator is that we've had stronger messages from the large companies we work with that they are aware of the potential for disruption, what we could call the uberisation of their activities, and they're looking for these smaller companies that have the knowledge, innovation, ideas and agility to actually help them anticipate these changes."