Most Active FoodTech Accelerators: A look into 40+ accelerators and their alumni

Most Active FoodTech Accelerators: A look into 40+ accelerators and their alumni

By
Sam Panzer
June 7, 2021

It takes serious guts to found a company.

As a result, founders often have a go-at-it-your-own mindset. But in life and in business, we’re better off learning from other people’s mistakes and successes (no matter how much we tend to go off and do everything our own way).

Accelerators are here to help companies grow fast and smart. Through a combination of expert guidance, direct investment, and introduction to investors and partners, accelerator programs might just be the right thing for your business.

This week, we’re highlighting a few of the leading accelerators actively supporting foodtech companies, the benefits of attending an accelerator, the potential reasons why not to attend.

📈 Accelerators: What's the big idea?

Let’s start with a quick definition. Accelerators are:

📅 Fixed term: typically 3-6 months, with a clear timeline often ending in a public “demo day” or other event showcasing participants.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Cohort based: companies move through accelerators with a group of others.

🤝 Mentorship focused: accelerators are designed to introduce startups to mentors and experts that provide strategic guidance on your business.

An overview of the active AgriFoodTech accelerators. Data from Crunchbase & FoodHack Database.

Most accelerators offer investment as well, either in grants or equity investment. Many accelerators are closely linked to investment funds, with an expectation or opportunity to raise from the fund after the accelerator wraps up.

In terms of timing, accelerators often run on a 1x / year cadence. A high share of accelerators gather applications in Q1, select companies in Q2, and run the program in Q3-Q4.

"But, what about incubators?" They’re similar, but incubators typically (1) don’t have a set timeline and (2) focus on early product development. Accelerators almost always, well, ‘accelerate’ existing businesses with an established product and team. We’re still including a few incubators here given the overlap.

🤷‍♂️ Why attend an accelerator?

So what do accelerators actually offer founders? Quite a lot actually.

🧠 Expert Guidance: the managers and mentors behind accelerators are pros. They’ve either helped heaps of companies along your dream path, or walked it themselves.

🤝 Peer-to-Peer Support: most accelerators are cohort-based, meaning you’ll benefit from a group of like-minded founders encountering the same challenges (or at least very empathetic to your unique barriers).

💰 Investor Intros: accelerators are all about connections to investors, often wrapping up in a public Demo Day that’s like an all-you-can-fund buffet for investors in the space. And the end of an accelerator is a great time to raise: you’ve learned a ton, tightened up your business plan, know your ask, and are ready for the big dance.

💵 Direct Investment: whether in equity investment or no-strings-attached grants, many accelerators inject cash into the business during or after the program. A number of accelerators are also backed by governments or NGOs to stimulate innovation, without taking equity.

🥇 Seal of Approval: accelerator participation is a positive flag that the startup is legitimate and already passed a rigorous selection process (many accelerators reject > 97% of applicants). i.e. The Norrsken Impact Accelerator had 2000+ applications for a total of 20 available spots. There’s a reason everybody who went through Y Combinator lists “YC 2020” in their LinkedIn headline like an NFL player listing their college team 🏈

🤔 Why to not attend an accelerator?

Accelerators sound pretty sweet, right? But let’s zoom in on some of possible downsides to round out the story.

⏱️ Unnecessary Help: a major selling point of accelerators is investor intros. But it’s a founder’s market these days with more resources available to fundraising founders than ever before. Think carefully if what the accelerator offers is worth taking yourself out of play for.

👀 Distractions: many accelerators include social functions, demo days, and other workshops that (even if beneficial) are not the core work of the business. We all love a happy hour, but review exactly what time is required by an accelerator (including the ‘fun’ stuff!) and factor that in as a cost you could otherwise be investing in your business.

➗Dilution: speaks for itself – if your accelerator takes equity in the business, stop and think if that’s the most value you can get for that stake. Maybe it’s better for you to say, raise a bridge round for the same dilution, to then go hire a great CFO or sales rep.

We've gathered a list 40+ active accelerators in agrifoodtech here

🥩 Who: Alt-Protein Accelerators

  • ProVeg Incubator: plant-based and cultured food accelerator offering grants and (optional) equity investment. Strong global network. Latest cohort includes Naka Foods (alt-chicken), Pow! Foods (vegan chorizo), and The Fast Good Company (ready-to-eat meals). Applications for their next cohort are currently open until 18th July.
  • Big Idea Ventures New Protein: 5-month accelerator between NYC, Singapore, and Paris. Closely linked with BIV’s three funds, including their $50M New Protein fund. Rolling admissions. Participating companies receive $200K and their alumni includes some superstar names like Grounded Foods Co. (plant-based cheese), Jellatech (animal-free collagen and gelatin) and Evo Foods (plant-based eggs).
  • Dao Foods Incubator: the incubator offers $80K to companies focused on development and growth in China. Alumni include Fresh Foods (plant-based yogurt) and Raw Plant-Based (smoothie products), in addition to Dao’s investments in Cultured Decadence (cultured seafood) and Starfield Foods (alt-meat).
  • Mylkubator: brand-new cultured and fermented alt-dairy accelerator backed by Spanish dairy company Calidad Pascual. Now selecting applicants for their first cohort.

🐟 Who: Oceans and Sustainable Seafood Accelerators

  • Hatch Aquaculture: backed by several corporates (including Cargill), Hatch is preparing for a 2022 program focused on both improving conventional fish production (nutrition, production, tech) as well as alternative seafood. Recent cohort includes SuSeWi (speeding up microalgae growth), Blue Lion Labs (water purity AI), and The Plant Based Seafood Co. (alt-seafood).
  • Sustainable Ocean Alliance: the SOA’s accelerator program is preparing for Cohort 5. Funded by a mix of foundations and investors (including the Walton family of Walmart fortune), the program has accelerated 29 startups in 3 years, investing $625K and yielding $20M in fundraising post-program.
  • Katapult Ocean Accelerator: consists of a 3-month online programme tailored to ocean startups. Includes mentorship, access to pilot customers, test environments and real data, plus investment into participating companies as well as access to potential further capital and investors.

Sponsored by NX Food

The best strategy to bring your product to market?

According to food innovation consultancy NX Food, it's all about launching through food service channels.

Download the newly released white-paper: 5 Reasons to launch Food innovations with culinary experts which is packed with insights into how emergent brands can leverage the hospitality sector to go-to-market. Including case studies from Oatly, Impossible Foods and an actionable 6-step-guide to develop your own Gastronomy First market approach.

Plus, join the free virtual panel discussion this Wednesday at 1pm CET for more insights into how to take your brand through the food service path.


🧫 Who: Biotech Accelerators

  • IndieBio: invests a solid $525K into participating startups during the intensive 4-month program. IndieBio’s 159 companies to date include a commendable 42% female founders. Companies include Geltor (protein design), Upside Foods (cultured meat), and Kraken Sense (pathogen detection).

💡 Who: FoodTech & CPG Accelerators

  • MassChallenge Switzerland: backed by some of Switzerland’s leading corporates, MassChallenge taps their extensive network while providing the opportunity to win investments (up to CHF 1M) without equity. Alumni include Planted (plant-based chicken), ClearLeaf (non-toxic fungicides), and FairFlavor (vegan cheeses and ice creams).
  • The Kitchen FoodTech Hub: backed by Israeli food manufacturer Strauss Group, The Kitchen provides around $700K to innovative early-stage companies working across the food supply chain. With additional backing from PepsiCo, Mondelez, and Danone, The Kitchen’s portfolio includes Yeap (protein extraction from yeast), Aleph Farms (cultured beef), and Vanilla Vida (easier-growing vanilla).
  • Kickstart Food & Retail Tech: with backing from several Swiss corporates, Kickstart is not a traditional accelerator. Instead, they position themselves as an ecosystem platform connecting startups to corporate partners. To-date, this model has led to 170+ partnerships and over $945M invested.
  • The Hatchery: funded by Kellogg’s, Conagra, and Griffith, the Chicago-based incubator supports food entrepreneurs with commercial kitchen space, classes and events, and workspaces. Rolling admissions and entries.
  • CoLab: Part of SnackFutures, the Mondelēz International innovation and venture hub and geared towards early-stage well-being snack brands. Consists of a 12-week program offering workshops, one-on-one mentorship and a $20,000 grant. Better Bites Bakery (allergen-free bakery), Elite Sweets (keto donuts), NuSkool (low-sugar snacking), 12 tides (kelp snacks) are amongst the 9 startups of CoLab’s first batch, kicking off this June.

🚜 Who: AgriFoodTech Accelerators

  • EIT Food Accelerator Network: the EITFAN offers two tracks: Sustainable Agriculture and Healthy Nutrition. EITFAN focuses on connecting startups with corporates and other partners willing to pilot cutting-edge tech. Pilot sites, labs, agriculture land – EITFAN’s network is ready to support across their six locations across Europe and Israel. Alumni include Jelly Drops (hydrating sweets) and Redefine Meat (3D printed meats).
  • StartLife Accelerate: currently open for their next cohort, is a 12-week online program that prepares AgriFoodTech startups for growth and offers loan packages from €25K to €250K (loans only accessible to Netherlands startups). Some notable alumni include SAIA Agrobotics (Ag robotics), Serket (livestock logistics), Nutrileads (health ingredients), Sundew (water-borne pests and diseases).
  • Rockstart Agrifood: a leading accelerator-VC combination, Rockstart offers a €100K convertible loan as well as strong investment chances from the Rockstart fund (up to 50% of the next round) along with excellent mentorship and consultancy services. Previous companies include Råhandel (sales platform for small food producers) and MyCrops (digital agronomy service).
  • Brinc: part-VC, part-accelerator. Brinc runs a number of programs across several verticals including AgTech, Alternative Protein, FoodTech, Logistics, Robotics and more. It includes six weeks of on-site training followed by six weeks remotely, and invests $80,000 for a negotiable equity percentage (but costs $30,000 to take part in).
  • The Yield Lab: while not currently accepting applications, the Yield Lab has supported 50+ AgTech startups with $100K investments, including Lepidext (corn earworm eradication), Kaffe Bueno (coffee ground upcycling), and Notch Ordering (wholesale restaurant ordering platform).
  • ToasterLAB: a 12-month mentorship-driven program with a 3-month intensive in-person phase. ToasterLAB is associated with Vitagora, an agri-food innovation community with strong corporate and investment connections. Participants enjoy access to Vitagora’s network to assist with partnerships and investment.
View the list of 40+ active accelerators in agrifoodtech here

🔮 Predictions:

Accelerators are only as good as the mentors, investors, and managers behind the program. Lots of great accelerators (including in FoodTech) have ‘gone dark,’ due to the loss of key people or sponsors. It’s a hard, expensive business to run, and the accelerator landscape will always be in flux.

That being said, accelerators will become an increasingly vital innovation engine in food & agtech. We’re only in the first inning of a new era of change in foodtech, juiced by new tech, massive climate challenges, and more mindful consumers (and yes, heaps and heaps of investment cash) and accelerators play a key role in helping the industry, and the innovative companies in this sector to get there. 

Historically, a lot of the secret sauce has been bottled up by big corporates. But foodtech is now more transparent and democratized, with even the biggest players investing in startups rather than building everything in-house. Early pioneers like Impossible and Oatly are giving thousands of employees a front-row view of what it takes to win. That’s a bottomless supply of mentors and partners to ensure accelerators serve up great and relevant advice.

Specific technologies will also continue to cluster into dedicated accelerators, like the newly-launched Mylkubator for alt-dairy or IndieBio for biotech. An accelerator for insect products, precision fermentation, or AI in agriculture? Yes, yes, and yes.

We’ll also see more governments following the model of places like Singapore and Switzerland, nurturing accelerators and offering direct grants to participants. To stay relevant in a time of remote and global work, governments must actively nurture their innovation ecosystems. It’s either that, or risk their economy hollowing out and falling behind.

There’s a lifetime of lessons being learned every day, and accelerators are perhaps the best way to make sure we learn from past hits and misses. 

Startups, corporates, successful entrepreneurs, investors – we’re all better together. And accelerators are the best forum to bring us to the same table. Pull up a chair, let’s get to work 🚀

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It takes serious guts to found a company.

As a result, founders often have a go-at-it-your-own mindset. But in life and in business, we’re better off learning from other people’s mistakes and successes (no matter how much we tend to go off and do everything our own way).

Accelerators are here to help companies grow fast and smart. Through a combination of expert guidance, direct investment, and introduction to investors and partners, accelerator programs might just be the right thing for your business.

This week, we’re highlighting a few of the leading accelerators actively supporting foodtech companies, the benefits of attending an accelerator, the potential reasons why not to attend.

📈 Accelerators: What's the big idea?

Let’s start with a quick definition. Accelerators are:

📅 Fixed term: typically 3-6 months, with a clear timeline often ending in a public “demo day” or other event showcasing participants.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Cohort based: companies move through accelerators with a group of others.

🤝 Mentorship focused: accelerators are designed to introduce startups to mentors and experts that provide strategic guidance on your business.

An overview of the active AgriFoodTech accelerators. Data from Crunchbase & FoodHack Database.

Most accelerators offer investment as well, either in grants or equity investment. Many accelerators are closely linked to investment funds, with an expectation or opportunity to raise from the fund after the accelerator wraps up.

In terms of timing, accelerators often run on a 1x / year cadence. A high share of accelerators gather applications in Q1, select companies in Q2, and run the program in Q3-Q4.

"But, what about incubators?" They’re similar, but incubators typically (1) don’t have a set timeline and (2) focus on early product development. Accelerators almost always, well, ‘accelerate’ existing businesses with an established product and team. We’re still including a few incubators here given the overlap.

🤷‍♂️ Why attend an accelerator?

So what do accelerators actually offer founders? Quite a lot actually.

🧠 Expert Guidance: the managers and mentors behind accelerators are pros. They’ve either helped heaps of companies along your dream path, or walked it themselves.

🤝 Peer-to-Peer Support: most accelerators are cohort-based, meaning you’ll benefit from a group of like-minded founders encountering the same challenges (or at least very empathetic to your unique barriers).

💰 Investor Intros: accelerators are all about connections to investors, often wrapping up in a public Demo Day that’s like an all-you-can-fund buffet for investors in the space. And the end of an accelerator is a great time to raise: you’ve learned a ton, tightened up your business plan, know your ask, and are ready for the big dance.

💵 Direct Investment: whether in equity investment or no-strings-attached grants, many accelerators inject cash into the business during or after the program. A number of accelerators are also backed by governments or NGOs to stimulate innovation, without taking equity.

🥇 Seal of Approval: accelerator participation is a positive flag that the startup is legitimate and already passed a rigorous selection process (many accelerators reject > 97% of applicants). i.e. The Norrsken Impact Accelerator had 2000+ applications for a total of 20 available spots. There’s a reason everybody who went through Y Combinator lists “YC 2020” in their LinkedIn headline like an NFL player listing their college team 🏈

🤔 Why to not attend an accelerator?

Accelerators sound pretty sweet, right? But let’s zoom in on some of possible downsides to round out the story.

⏱️ Unnecessary Help: a major selling point of accelerators is investor intros. But it’s a founder’s market these days with more resources available to fundraising founders than ever before. Think carefully if what the accelerator offers is worth taking yourself out of play for.

👀 Distractions: many accelerators include social functions, demo days, and other workshops that (even if beneficial) are not the core work of the business. We all love a happy hour, but review exactly what time is required by an accelerator (including the ‘fun’ stuff!) and factor that in as a cost you could otherwise be investing in your business.

➗Dilution: speaks for itself – if your accelerator takes equity in the business, stop and think if that’s the most value you can get for that stake. Maybe it’s better for you to say, raise a bridge round for the same dilution, to then go hire a great CFO or sales rep.

We've gathered a list 40+ active accelerators in agrifoodtech here

🥩 Who: Alt-Protein Accelerators

  • ProVeg Incubator: plant-based and cultured food accelerator offering grants and (optional) equity investment. Strong global network. Latest cohort includes Naka Foods (alt-chicken), Pow! Foods (vegan chorizo), and The Fast Good Company (ready-to-eat meals). Applications for their next cohort are currently open until 18th July.
  • Big Idea Ventures New Protein: 5-month accelerator between NYC, Singapore, and Paris. Closely linked with BIV’s three funds, including their $50M New Protein fund. Rolling admissions. Participating companies receive $200K and their alumni includes some superstar names like Grounded Foods Co. (plant-based cheese), Jellatech (animal-free collagen and gelatin) and Evo Foods (plant-based eggs).
  • Dao Foods Incubator: the incubator offers $80K to companies focused on development and growth in China. Alumni include Fresh Foods (plant-based yogurt) and Raw Plant-Based (smoothie products), in addition to Dao’s investments in Cultured Decadence (cultured seafood) and Starfield Foods (alt-meat).
  • Mylkubator: brand-new cultured and fermented alt-dairy accelerator backed by Spanish dairy company Calidad Pascual. Now selecting applicants for their first cohort.

🐟 Who: Oceans and Sustainable Seafood Accelerators

  • Hatch Aquaculture: backed by several corporates (including Cargill), Hatch is preparing for a 2022 program focused on both improving conventional fish production (nutrition, production, tech) as well as alternative seafood. Recent cohort includes SuSeWi (speeding up microalgae growth), Blue Lion Labs (water purity AI), and The Plant Based Seafood Co. (alt-seafood).
  • Sustainable Ocean Alliance: the SOA’s accelerator program is preparing for Cohort 5. Funded by a mix of foundations and investors (including the Walton family of Walmart fortune), the program has accelerated 29 startups in 3 years, investing $625K and yielding $20M in fundraising post-program.
  • Katapult Ocean Accelerator: consists of a 3-month online programme tailored to ocean startups. Includes mentorship, access to pilot customers, test environments and real data, plus investment into participating companies as well as access to potential further capital and investors.

Sponsored by NX Food

The best strategy to bring your product to market?

According to food innovation consultancy NX Food, it's all about launching through food service channels.

Download the newly released white-paper: 5 Reasons to launch Food innovations with culinary experts which is packed with insights into how emergent brands can leverage the hospitality sector to go-to-market. Including case studies from Oatly, Impossible Foods and an actionable 6-step-guide to develop your own Gastronomy First market approach.

Plus, join the free virtual panel discussion this Wednesday at 1pm CET for more insights into how to take your brand through the food service path.


🧫 Who: Biotech Accelerators

  • IndieBio: invests a solid $525K into participating startups during the intensive 4-month program. IndieBio’s 159 companies to date include a commendable 42% female founders. Companies include Geltor (protein design), Upside Foods (cultured meat), and Kraken Sense (pathogen detection).

💡 Who: FoodTech & CPG Accelerators

  • MassChallenge Switzerland: backed by some of Switzerland’s leading corporates, MassChallenge taps their extensive network while providing the opportunity to win investments (up to CHF 1M) without equity. Alumni include Planted (plant-based chicken), ClearLeaf (non-toxic fungicides), and FairFlavor (vegan cheeses and ice creams).
  • The Kitchen FoodTech Hub: backed by Israeli food manufacturer Strauss Group, The Kitchen provides around $700K to innovative early-stage companies working across the food supply chain. With additional backing from PepsiCo, Mondelez, and Danone, The Kitchen’s portfolio includes Yeap (protein extraction from yeast), Aleph Farms (cultured beef), and Vanilla Vida (easier-growing vanilla).
  • Kickstart Food & Retail Tech: with backing from several Swiss corporates, Kickstart is not a traditional accelerator. Instead, they position themselves as an ecosystem platform connecting startups to corporate partners. To-date, this model has led to 170+ partnerships and over $945M invested.
  • The Hatchery: funded by Kellogg’s, Conagra, and Griffith, the Chicago-based incubator supports food entrepreneurs with commercial kitchen space, classes and events, and workspaces. Rolling admissions and entries.
  • CoLab: Part of SnackFutures, the Mondelēz International innovation and venture hub and geared towards early-stage well-being snack brands. Consists of a 12-week program offering workshops, one-on-one mentorship and a $20,000 grant. Better Bites Bakery (allergen-free bakery), Elite Sweets (keto donuts), NuSkool (low-sugar snacking), 12 tides (kelp snacks) are amongst the 9 startups of CoLab’s first batch, kicking off this June.

🚜 Who: AgriFoodTech Accelerators

  • EIT Food Accelerator Network: the EITFAN offers two tracks: Sustainable Agriculture and Healthy Nutrition. EITFAN focuses on connecting startups with corporates and other partners willing to pilot cutting-edge tech. Pilot sites, labs, agriculture land – EITFAN’s network is ready to support across their six locations across Europe and Israel. Alumni include Jelly Drops (hydrating sweets) and Redefine Meat (3D printed meats).
  • StartLife Accelerate: currently open for their next cohort, is a 12-week online program that prepares AgriFoodTech startups for growth and offers loan packages from €25K to €250K (loans only accessible to Netherlands startups). Some notable alumni include SAIA Agrobotics (Ag robotics), Serket (livestock logistics), Nutrileads (health ingredients), Sundew (water-borne pests and diseases).
  • Rockstart Agrifood: a leading accelerator-VC combination, Rockstart offers a €100K convertible loan as well as strong investment chances from the Rockstart fund (up to 50% of the next round) along with excellent mentorship and consultancy services. Previous companies include Råhandel (sales platform for small food producers) and MyCrops (digital agronomy service).
  • Brinc: part-VC, part-accelerator. Brinc runs a number of programs across several verticals including AgTech, Alternative Protein, FoodTech, Logistics, Robotics and more. It includes six weeks of on-site training followed by six weeks remotely, and invests $80,000 for a negotiable equity percentage (but costs $30,000 to take part in).
  • The Yield Lab: while not currently accepting applications, the Yield Lab has supported 50+ AgTech startups with $100K investments, including Lepidext (corn earworm eradication), Kaffe Bueno (coffee ground upcycling), and Notch Ordering (wholesale restaurant ordering platform).
  • ToasterLAB: a 12-month mentorship-driven program with a 3-month intensive in-person phase. ToasterLAB is associated with Vitagora, an agri-food innovation community with strong corporate and investment connections. Participants enjoy access to Vitagora’s network to assist with partnerships and investment.
View the list of 40+ active accelerators in agrifoodtech here

🔮 Predictions:

Accelerators are only as good as the mentors, investors, and managers behind the program. Lots of great accelerators (including in FoodTech) have ‘gone dark,’ due to the loss of key people or sponsors. It’s a hard, expensive business to run, and the accelerator landscape will always be in flux.

That being said, accelerators will become an increasingly vital innovation engine in food & agtech. We’re only in the first inning of a new era of change in foodtech, juiced by new tech, massive climate challenges, and more mindful consumers (and yes, heaps and heaps of investment cash) and accelerators play a key role in helping the industry, and the innovative companies in this sector to get there. 

Historically, a lot of the secret sauce has been bottled up by big corporates. But foodtech is now more transparent and democratized, with even the biggest players investing in startups rather than building everything in-house. Early pioneers like Impossible and Oatly are giving thousands of employees a front-row view of what it takes to win. That’s a bottomless supply of mentors and partners to ensure accelerators serve up great and relevant advice.

Specific technologies will also continue to cluster into dedicated accelerators, like the newly-launched Mylkubator for alt-dairy or IndieBio for biotech. An accelerator for insect products, precision fermentation, or AI in agriculture? Yes, yes, and yes.

We’ll also see more governments following the model of places like Singapore and Switzerland, nurturing accelerators and offering direct grants to participants. To stay relevant in a time of remote and global work, governments must actively nurture their innovation ecosystems. It’s either that, or risk their economy hollowing out and falling behind.

There’s a lifetime of lessons being learned every day, and accelerators are perhaps the best way to make sure we learn from past hits and misses. 

Startups, corporates, successful entrepreneurs, investors – we’re all better together. And accelerators are the best forum to bring us to the same table. Pull up a chair, let’s get to work 🚀

It takes serious guts to found a company.

As a result, founders often have a go-at-it-your-own mindset. But in life and in business, we’re better off learning from other people’s mistakes and successes (no matter how much we tend to go off and do everything our own way).

Accelerators are here to help companies grow fast and smart. Through a combination of expert guidance, direct investment, and introduction to investors and partners, accelerator programs might just be the right thing for your business.

This week, we’re highlighting a few of the leading accelerators actively supporting foodtech companies, the benefits of attending an accelerator, the potential reasons why not to attend.

📈 Accelerators: What's the big idea?

Let’s start with a quick definition. Accelerators are:

📅 Fixed term: typically 3-6 months, with a clear timeline often ending in a public “demo day” or other event showcasing participants.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Cohort based: companies move through accelerators with a group of others.

🤝 Mentorship focused: accelerators are designed to introduce startups to mentors and experts that provide strategic guidance on your business.

An overview of the active AgriFoodTech accelerators. Data from Crunchbase & FoodHack Database.

Most accelerators offer investment as well, either in grants or equity investment. Many accelerators are closely linked to investment funds, with an expectation or opportunity to raise from the fund after the accelerator wraps up.

In terms of timing, accelerators often run on a 1x / year cadence. A high share of accelerators gather applications in Q1, select companies in Q2, and run the program in Q3-Q4.

"But, what about incubators?" They’re similar, but incubators typically (1) don’t have a set timeline and (2) focus on early product development. Accelerators almost always, well, ‘accelerate’ existing businesses with an established product and team. We’re still including a few incubators here given the overlap.

🤷‍♂️ Why attend an accelerator?

So what do accelerators actually offer founders? Quite a lot actually.

🧠 Expert Guidance: the managers and mentors behind accelerators are pros. They’ve either helped heaps of companies along your dream path, or walked it themselves.

🤝 Peer-to-Peer Support: most accelerators are cohort-based, meaning you’ll benefit from a group of like-minded founders encountering the same challenges (or at least very empathetic to your unique barriers).

💰 Investor Intros: accelerators are all about connections to investors, often wrapping up in a public Demo Day that’s like an all-you-can-fund buffet for investors in the space. And the end of an accelerator is a great time to raise: you’ve learned a ton, tightened up your business plan, know your ask, and are ready for the big dance.

💵 Direct Investment: whether in equity investment or no-strings-attached grants, many accelerators inject cash into the business during or after the program. A number of accelerators are also backed by governments or NGOs to stimulate innovation, without taking equity.

🥇 Seal of Approval: accelerator participation is a positive flag that the startup is legitimate and already passed a rigorous selection process (many accelerators reject > 97% of applicants). i.e. The Norrsken Impact Accelerator had 2000+ applications for a total of 20 available spots. There’s a reason everybody who went through Y Combinator lists “YC 2020” in their LinkedIn headline like an NFL player listing their college team 🏈

🤔 Why to not attend an accelerator?

Accelerators sound pretty sweet, right? But let’s zoom in on some of possible downsides to round out the story.

⏱️ Unnecessary Help: a major selling point of accelerators is investor intros. But it’s a founder’s market these days with more resources available to fundraising founders than ever before. Think carefully if what the accelerator offers is worth taking yourself out of play for.

👀 Distractions: many accelerators include social functions, demo days, and other workshops that (even if beneficial) are not the core work of the business. We all love a happy hour, but review exactly what time is required by an accelerator (including the ‘fun’ stuff!) and factor that in as a cost you could otherwise be investing in your business.

➗Dilution: speaks for itself – if your accelerator takes equity in the business, stop and think if that’s the most value you can get for that stake. Maybe it’s better for you to say, raise a bridge round for the same dilution, to then go hire a great CFO or sales rep.

We've gathered a list 40+ active accelerators in agrifoodtech here

🥩 Who: Alt-Protein Accelerators

  • ProVeg Incubator: plant-based and cultured food accelerator offering grants and (optional) equity investment. Strong global network. Latest cohort includes Naka Foods (alt-chicken), Pow! Foods (vegan chorizo), and The Fast Good Company (ready-to-eat meals). Applications for their next cohort are currently open until 18th July.
  • Big Idea Ventures New Protein: 5-month accelerator between NYC, Singapore, and Paris. Closely linked with BIV’s three funds, including their $50M New Protein fund. Rolling admissions. Participating companies receive $200K and their alumni includes some superstar names like Grounded Foods Co. (plant-based cheese), Jellatech (animal-free collagen and gelatin) and Evo Foods (plant-based eggs).
  • Dao Foods Incubator: the incubator offers $80K to companies focused on development and growth in China. Alumni include Fresh Foods (plant-based yogurt) and Raw Plant-Based (smoothie products), in addition to Dao’s investments in Cultured Decadence (cultured seafood) and Starfield Foods (alt-meat).
  • Mylkubator: brand-new cultured and fermented alt-dairy accelerator backed by Spanish dairy company Calidad Pascual. Now selecting applicants for their first cohort.

🐟 Who: Oceans and Sustainable Seafood Accelerators

  • Hatch Aquaculture: backed by several corporates (including Cargill), Hatch is preparing for a 2022 program focused on both improving conventional fish production (nutrition, production, tech) as well as alternative seafood. Recent cohort includes SuSeWi (speeding up microalgae growth), Blue Lion Labs (water purity AI), and The Plant Based Seafood Co. (alt-seafood).
  • Sustainable Ocean Alliance: the SOA’s accelerator program is preparing for Cohort 5. Funded by a mix of foundations and investors (including the Walton family of Walmart fortune), the program has accelerated 29 startups in 3 years, investing $625K and yielding $20M in fundraising post-program.
  • Katapult Ocean Accelerator: consists of a 3-month online programme tailored to ocean startups. Includes mentorship, access to pilot customers, test environments and real data, plus investment into participating companies as well as access to potential further capital and investors.

Sponsored by NX Food

The best strategy to bring your product to market?

According to food innovation consultancy NX Food, it's all about launching through food service channels.

Download the newly released white-paper: 5 Reasons to launch Food innovations with culinary experts which is packed with insights into how emergent brands can leverage the hospitality sector to go-to-market. Including case studies from Oatly, Impossible Foods and an actionable 6-step-guide to develop your own Gastronomy First market approach.

Plus, join the free virtual panel discussion this Wednesday at 1pm CET for more insights into how to take your brand through the food service path.


🧫 Who: Biotech Accelerators

  • IndieBio: invests a solid $525K into participating startups during the intensive 4-month program. IndieBio’s 159 companies to date include a commendable 42% female founders. Companies include Geltor (protein design), Upside Foods (cultured meat), and Kraken Sense (pathogen detection).

💡 Who: FoodTech & CPG Accelerators

  • MassChallenge Switzerland: backed by some of Switzerland’s leading corporates, MassChallenge taps their extensive network while providing the opportunity to win investments (up to CHF 1M) without equity. Alumni include Planted (plant-based chicken), ClearLeaf (non-toxic fungicides), and FairFlavor (vegan cheeses and ice creams).
  • The Kitchen FoodTech Hub: backed by Israeli food manufacturer Strauss Group, The Kitchen provides around $700K to innovative early-stage companies working across the food supply chain. With additional backing from PepsiCo, Mondelez, and Danone, The Kitchen’s portfolio includes Yeap (protein extraction from yeast), Aleph Farms (cultured beef), and Vanilla Vida (easier-growing vanilla).
  • Kickstart Food & Retail Tech: with backing from several Swiss corporates, Kickstart is not a traditional accelerator. Instead, they position themselves as an ecosystem platform connecting startups to corporate partners. To-date, this model has led to 170+ partnerships and over $945M invested.
  • The Hatchery: funded by Kellogg’s, Conagra, and Griffith, the Chicago-based incubator supports food entrepreneurs with commercial kitchen space, classes and events, and workspaces. Rolling admissions and entries.
  • CoLab: Part of SnackFutures, the Mondelēz International innovation and venture hub and geared towards early-stage well-being snack brands. Consists of a 12-week program offering workshops, one-on-one mentorship and a $20,000 grant. Better Bites Bakery (allergen-free bakery), Elite Sweets (keto donuts), NuSkool (low-sugar snacking), 12 tides (kelp snacks) are amongst the 9 startups of CoLab’s first batch, kicking off this June.

🚜 Who: AgriFoodTech Accelerators

  • EIT Food Accelerator Network: the EITFAN offers two tracks: Sustainable Agriculture and Healthy Nutrition. EITFAN focuses on connecting startups with corporates and other partners willing to pilot cutting-edge tech. Pilot sites, labs, agriculture land – EITFAN’s network is ready to support across their six locations across Europe and Israel. Alumni include Jelly Drops (hydrating sweets) and Redefine Meat (3D printed meats).
  • StartLife Accelerate: currently open for their next cohort, is a 12-week online program that prepares AgriFoodTech startups for growth and offers loan packages from €25K to €250K (loans only accessible to Netherlands startups). Some notable alumni include SAIA Agrobotics (Ag robotics), Serket (livestock logistics), Nutrileads (health ingredients), Sundew (water-borne pests and diseases).
  • Rockstart Agrifood: a leading accelerator-VC combination, Rockstart offers a €100K convertible loan as well as strong investment chances from the Rockstart fund (up to 50% of the next round) along with excellent mentorship and consultancy services. Previous companies include Råhandel (sales platform for small food producers) and MyCrops (digital agronomy service).
  • Brinc: part-VC, part-accelerator. Brinc runs a number of programs across several verticals including AgTech, Alternative Protein, FoodTech, Logistics, Robotics and more. It includes six weeks of on-site training followed by six weeks remotely, and invests $80,000 for a negotiable equity percentage (but costs $30,000 to take part in).
  • The Yield Lab: while not currently accepting applications, the Yield Lab has supported 50+ AgTech startups with $100K investments, including Lepidext (corn earworm eradication), Kaffe Bueno (coffee ground upcycling), and Notch Ordering (wholesale restaurant ordering platform).
  • ToasterLAB: a 12-month mentorship-driven program with a 3-month intensive in-person phase. ToasterLAB is associated with Vitagora, an agri-food innovation community with strong corporate and investment connections. Participants enjoy access to Vitagora’s network to assist with partnerships and investment.
View the list of 40+ active accelerators in agrifoodtech here

🔮 Predictions:

Accelerators are only as good as the mentors, investors, and managers behind the program. Lots of great accelerators (including in FoodTech) have ‘gone dark,’ due to the loss of key people or sponsors. It’s a hard, expensive business to run, and the accelerator landscape will always be in flux.

That being said, accelerators will become an increasingly vital innovation engine in food & agtech. We’re only in the first inning of a new era of change in foodtech, juiced by new tech, massive climate challenges, and more mindful consumers (and yes, heaps and heaps of investment cash) and accelerators play a key role in helping the industry, and the innovative companies in this sector to get there. 

Historically, a lot of the secret sauce has been bottled up by big corporates. But foodtech is now more transparent and democratized, with even the biggest players investing in startups rather than building everything in-house. Early pioneers like Impossible and Oatly are giving thousands of employees a front-row view of what it takes to win. That’s a bottomless supply of mentors and partners to ensure accelerators serve up great and relevant advice.

Specific technologies will also continue to cluster into dedicated accelerators, like the newly-launched Mylkubator for alt-dairy or IndieBio for biotech. An accelerator for insect products, precision fermentation, or AI in agriculture? Yes, yes, and yes.

We’ll also see more governments following the model of places like Singapore and Switzerland, nurturing accelerators and offering direct grants to participants. To stay relevant in a time of remote and global work, governments must actively nurture their innovation ecosystems. It’s either that, or risk their economy hollowing out and falling behind.

There’s a lifetime of lessons being learned every day, and accelerators are perhaps the best way to make sure we learn from past hits and misses. 

Startups, corporates, successful entrepreneurs, investors – we’re all better together. And accelerators are the best forum to bring us to the same table. Pull up a chair, let’s get to work 🚀

It takes serious guts to found a company.

As a result, founders often have a go-at-it-your-own mindset. But in life and in business, we’re better off learning from other people’s mistakes and successes (no matter how much we tend to go off and do everything our own way).

Accelerators are here to help companies grow fast and smart. Through a combination of expert guidance, direct investment, and introduction to investors and partners, accelerator programs might just be the right thing for your business.

This week, we’re highlighting a few of the leading accelerators actively supporting foodtech companies, the benefits of attending an accelerator, the potential reasons why not to attend.

📈 Accelerators: What's the big idea?

Let’s start with a quick definition. Accelerators are:

📅 Fixed term: typically 3-6 months, with a clear timeline often ending in a public “demo day” or other event showcasing participants.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Cohort based: companies move through accelerators with a group of others.

🤝 Mentorship focused: accelerators are designed to introduce startups to mentors and experts that provide strategic guidance on your business.

An overview of the active AgriFoodTech accelerators. Data from Crunchbase & FoodHack Database.

Most accelerators offer investment as well, either in grants or equity investment. Many accelerators are closely linked to investment funds, with an expectation or opportunity to raise from the fund after the accelerator wraps up.

In terms of timing, accelerators often run on a 1x / year cadence. A high share of accelerators gather applications in Q1, select companies in Q2, and run the program in Q3-Q4.

"But, what about incubators?" They’re similar, but incubators typically (1) don’t have a set timeline and (2) focus on early product development. Accelerators almost always, well, ‘accelerate’ existing businesses with an established product and team. We’re still including a few incubators here given the overlap.

🤷‍♂️ Why attend an accelerator?

So what do accelerators actually offer founders? Quite a lot actually.

🧠 Expert Guidance: the managers and mentors behind accelerators are pros. They’ve either helped heaps of companies along your dream path, or walked it themselves.

🤝 Peer-to-Peer Support: most accelerators are cohort-based, meaning you’ll benefit from a group of like-minded founders encountering the same challenges (or at least very empathetic to your unique barriers).

💰 Investor Intros: accelerators are all about connections to investors, often wrapping up in a public Demo Day that’s like an all-you-can-fund buffet for investors in the space. And the end of an accelerator is a great time to raise: you’ve learned a ton, tightened up your business plan, know your ask, and are ready for the big dance.

💵 Direct Investment: whether in equity investment or no-strings-attached grants, many accelerators inject cash into the business during or after the program. A number of accelerators are also backed by governments or NGOs to stimulate innovation, without taking equity.

🥇 Seal of Approval: accelerator participation is a positive flag that the startup is legitimate and already passed a rigorous selection process (many accelerators reject > 97% of applicants). i.e. The Norrsken Impact Accelerator had 2000+ applications for a total of 20 available spots. There’s a reason everybody who went through Y Combinator lists “YC 2020” in their LinkedIn headline like an NFL player listing their college team 🏈

🤔 Why to not attend an accelerator?

Accelerators sound pretty sweet, right? But let’s zoom in on some of possible downsides to round out the story.

⏱️ Unnecessary Help: a major selling point of accelerators is investor intros. But it’s a founder’s market these days with more resources available to fundraising founders than ever before. Think carefully if what the accelerator offers is worth taking yourself out of play for.

👀 Distractions: many accelerators include social functions, demo days, and other workshops that (even if beneficial) are not the core work of the business. We all love a happy hour, but review exactly what time is required by an accelerator (including the ‘fun’ stuff!) and factor that in as a cost you could otherwise be investing in your business.

➗Dilution: speaks for itself – if your accelerator takes equity in the business, stop and think if that’s the most value you can get for that stake. Maybe it’s better for you to say, raise a bridge round for the same dilution, to then go hire a great CFO or sales rep.

We've gathered a list 40+ active accelerators in agrifoodtech here

🥩 Who: Alt-Protein Accelerators

  • ProVeg Incubator: plant-based and cultured food accelerator offering grants and (optional) equity investment. Strong global network. Latest cohort includes Naka Foods (alt-chicken), Pow! Foods (vegan chorizo), and The Fast Good Company (ready-to-eat meals). Applications for their next cohort are currently open until 18th July.
  • Big Idea Ventures New Protein: 5-month accelerator between NYC, Singapore, and Paris. Closely linked with BIV’s three funds, including their $50M New Protein fund. Rolling admissions. Participating companies receive $200K and their alumni includes some superstar names like Grounded Foods Co. (plant-based cheese), Jellatech (animal-free collagen and gelatin) and Evo Foods (plant-based eggs).
  • Dao Foods Incubator: the incubator offers $80K to companies focused on development and growth in China. Alumni include Fresh Foods (plant-based yogurt) and Raw Plant-Based (smoothie products), in addition to Dao’s investments in Cultured Decadence (cultured seafood) and Starfield Foods (alt-meat).
  • Mylkubator: brand-new cultured and fermented alt-dairy accelerator backed by Spanish dairy company Calidad Pascual. Now selecting applicants for their first cohort.

🐟 Who: Oceans and Sustainable Seafood Accelerators

  • Hatch Aquaculture: backed by several corporates (including Cargill), Hatch is preparing for a 2022 program focused on both improving conventional fish production (nutrition, production, tech) as well as alternative seafood. Recent cohort includes SuSeWi (speeding up microalgae growth), Blue Lion Labs (water purity AI), and The Plant Based Seafood Co. (alt-seafood).
  • Sustainable Ocean Alliance: the SOA’s accelerator program is preparing for Cohort 5. Funded by a mix of foundations and investors (including the Walton family of Walmart fortune), the program has accelerated 29 startups in 3 years, investing $625K and yielding $20M in fundraising post-program.
  • Katapult Ocean Accelerator: consists of a 3-month online programme tailored to ocean startups. Includes mentorship, access to pilot customers, test environments and real data, plus investment into participating companies as well as access to potential further capital and investors.

Sponsored by NX Food

The best strategy to bring your product to market?

According to food innovation consultancy NX Food, it's all about launching through food service channels.

Download the newly released white-paper: 5 Reasons to launch Food innovations with culinary experts which is packed with insights into how emergent brands can leverage the hospitality sector to go-to-market. Including case studies from Oatly, Impossible Foods and an actionable 6-step-guide to develop your own Gastronomy First market approach.

Plus, join the free virtual panel discussion this Wednesday at 1pm CET for more insights into how to take your brand through the food service path.


🧫 Who: Biotech Accelerators

  • IndieBio: invests a solid $525K into participating startups during the intensive 4-month program. IndieBio’s 159 companies to date include a commendable 42% female founders. Companies include Geltor (protein design), Upside Foods (cultured meat), and Kraken Sense (pathogen detection).

💡 Who: FoodTech & CPG Accelerators

  • MassChallenge Switzerland: backed by some of Switzerland’s leading corporates, MassChallenge taps their extensive network while providing the opportunity to win investments (up to CHF 1M) without equity. Alumni include Planted (plant-based chicken), ClearLeaf (non-toxic fungicides), and FairFlavor (vegan cheeses and ice creams).
  • The Kitchen FoodTech Hub: backed by Israeli food manufacturer Strauss Group, The Kitchen provides around $700K to innovative early-stage companies working across the food supply chain. With additional backing from PepsiCo, Mondelez, and Danone, The Kitchen’s portfolio includes Yeap (protein extraction from yeast), Aleph Farms (cultured beef), and Vanilla Vida (easier-growing vanilla).
  • Kickstart Food & Retail Tech: with backing from several Swiss corporates, Kickstart is not a traditional accelerator. Instead, they position themselves as an ecosystem platform connecting startups to corporate partners. To-date, this model has led to 170+ partnerships and over $945M invested.
  • The Hatchery: funded by Kellogg’s, Conagra, and Griffith, the Chicago-based incubator supports food entrepreneurs with commercial kitchen space, classes and events, and workspaces. Rolling admissions and entries.
  • CoLab: Part of SnackFutures, the Mondelēz International innovation and venture hub and geared towards early-stage well-being snack brands. Consists of a 12-week program offering workshops, one-on-one mentorship and a $20,000 grant. Better Bites Bakery (allergen-free bakery), Elite Sweets (keto donuts), NuSkool (low-sugar snacking), 12 tides (kelp snacks) are amongst the 9 startups of CoLab’s first batch, kicking off this June.

🚜 Who: AgriFoodTech Accelerators

  • EIT Food Accelerator Network: the EITFAN offers two tracks: Sustainable Agriculture and Healthy Nutrition. EITFAN focuses on connecting startups with corporates and other partners willing to pilot cutting-edge tech. Pilot sites, labs, agriculture land – EITFAN’s network is ready to support across their six locations across Europe and Israel. Alumni include Jelly Drops (hydrating sweets) and Redefine Meat (3D printed meats).
  • StartLife Accelerate: currently open for their next cohort, is a 12-week online program that prepares AgriFoodTech startups for growth and offers loan packages from €25K to €250K (loans only accessible to Netherlands startups). Some notable alumni include SAIA Agrobotics (Ag robotics), Serket (livestock logistics), Nutrileads (health ingredients), Sundew (water-borne pests and diseases).
  • Rockstart Agrifood: a leading accelerator-VC combination, Rockstart offers a €100K convertible loan as well as strong investment chances from the Rockstart fund (up to 50% of the next round) along with excellent mentorship and consultancy services. Previous companies include Råhandel (sales platform for small food producers) and MyCrops (digital agronomy service).
  • Brinc: part-VC, part-accelerator. Brinc runs a number of programs across several verticals including AgTech, Alternative Protein, FoodTech, Logistics, Robotics and more. It includes six weeks of on-site training followed by six weeks remotely, and invests $80,000 for a negotiable equity percentage (but costs $30,000 to take part in).
  • The Yield Lab: while not currently accepting applications, the Yield Lab has supported 50+ AgTech startups with $100K investments, including Lepidext (corn earworm eradication), Kaffe Bueno (coffee ground upcycling), and Notch Ordering (wholesale restaurant ordering platform).
  • ToasterLAB: a 12-month mentorship-driven program with a 3-month intensive in-person phase. ToasterLAB is associated with Vitagora, an agri-food innovation community with strong corporate and investment connections. Participants enjoy access to Vitagora’s network to assist with partnerships and investment.
View the list of 40+ active accelerators in agrifoodtech here

🔮 Predictions:

Accelerators are only as good as the mentors, investors, and managers behind the program. Lots of great accelerators (including in FoodTech) have ‘gone dark,’ due to the loss of key people or sponsors. It’s a hard, expensive business to run, and the accelerator landscape will always be in flux.

That being said, accelerators will become an increasingly vital innovation engine in food & agtech. We’re only in the first inning of a new era of change in foodtech, juiced by new tech, massive climate challenges, and more mindful consumers (and yes, heaps and heaps of investment cash) and accelerators play a key role in helping the industry, and the innovative companies in this sector to get there. 

Historically, a lot of the secret sauce has been bottled up by big corporates. But foodtech is now more transparent and democratized, with even the biggest players investing in startups rather than building everything in-house. Early pioneers like Impossible and Oatly are giving thousands of employees a front-row view of what it takes to win. That’s a bottomless supply of mentors and partners to ensure accelerators serve up great and relevant advice.

Specific technologies will also continue to cluster into dedicated accelerators, like the newly-launched Mylkubator for alt-dairy or IndieBio for biotech. An accelerator for insect products, precision fermentation, or AI in agriculture? Yes, yes, and yes.

We’ll also see more governments following the model of places like Singapore and Switzerland, nurturing accelerators and offering direct grants to participants. To stay relevant in a time of remote and global work, governments must actively nurture their innovation ecosystems. It’s either that, or risk their economy hollowing out and falling behind.

There’s a lifetime of lessons being learned every day, and accelerators are perhaps the best way to make sure we learn from past hits and misses. 

Startups, corporates, successful entrepreneurs, investors – we’re all better together. And accelerators are the best forum to bring us to the same table. Pull up a chair, let’s get to work 🚀

FoodTech News Digested ✉️
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