Switzerland
15 June 2020

MassChallenge Switzerland Announces Open Application for its new Sustainable Food Systems Challenge

June 15, 2020 (Renens, Switzerland) - MassChallenge Switzerland, part of MassChallenge’s global network of zero-equity startup accelerators today announced the launch of its Sustainable Food Systems Challenge, in partnership with Nestlé, Bühler, GEA, Givaudan, Barry Callebaut, Südzucker, and Amcor. Under the Sustainable Food Systems Challenge, these leading global food manufacturers and producers will work with MassChallenge Switzerland to find, collaborate with, and help scale up to six startups or organizations with proven solutions or technologies that can help feed the planet sustainably. Prospective startups can learn more and apply by July 31, 2020 at 11:59 CEST at: http://apply.masschallenge.org/mcch-sustainable-food-systems-challenge-2...

“In the midst of COVID-19 challenge, we are facing major uncertainty across all industries and all geographies. This uncertaintly is particularly acute for the roughly one billion people who are at risk of increased food insecurity,” said Matt Lashmar, Managing Director of MassChallenge Switzerland. “With an already-stretched global food supply that is coming under increasing pressure, we must focus extracting value from food supply chains that can support consumers, manufacturers and their supply base (including farmers) while reducing the CO2 footprint of the entire food value chain. Startup-corporate collaboration is a unique way to take new disruptive ideas and scale these ideas quickly in order to address these challenges.”

Through the Sustainable Food Systems Challenge, MassChallenge will connect relevant startups with industry leading partners to accelerate innovation in the following categories:

  • Food processing solutions (technology, software, control) that minimizes waste and the use of energy, water and chemicals. 
  • Technology solutions to reduce the CO2 footprint of food production, distribution & disposal. 
  • Value creation/upcycling of food processing side streams. 
  • Sustainable (plastic-free) bottling and food packaging. 

Prospective startups or organizations should have a product or idea at the prototype stage or a working proof of concept backed by data and have a roadmap for how to scale that idea or proof of concept. Startups from any stage (seed to series C+) and from any geography are welcome to apply.
Relevant applicants will be presented to partner corporations. Selected startups will be invited to meet with R&D, open innovation, sustainability execuctives, and business unit heads for further discussion and to evaluate the potential for collaboration. We expect that this will result in proof of concepts, partnerships, investments for several of the startups. 

In addition to the above, each partner will select one startup to pitch their joint collaboration idea at the MassChallenge Sustainable Food Systems Challenge Day on 24 September 2020 where all corporate partners will attend. It is anticipated that partners and startups will then work together to scale the startups idea through the 
partners’ business. 

Prospective startups and organizations can learn more about the Sustainable Food Systems Challenge and apply by July 31, 2020 at 11:59 CEST at: http://apply.masschallenge.org/mcch-sustainable-food-systems-challenge-2020

Benefits for the Start-Ups Selected

1. A direct pathway to multi-national corporations:  If shortlisted by our corporate partners, MassChallenge will introduce you to representatives of the corporate 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 forsee 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 Systems Challenge Day, on 24th September. There, the startup invited will present their solution to all of our coprorate 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. 

Eligibility Criteria

We are looking for startups or organisations that:

Have a product or idea at the prototype stage or with a working proof of concept backed by data (ie Technical Readiness Level 5, where the technology has been validated in relevant environment) in the following areas:

  • Food processing solutions (technology, software, control) that minimizes waste and the use of energy, water and chemicals.
  • Technology solutions to reduce the CO2 footprint of food production, distribution & disposal
  • Value creation/upcycling of food processing side streams
  • Sustainable (plastic-free) bottling and food packaging
  • (See end of this announcement for more detail) 

For startups are from seed to series C+. What’s important is that your product is at least at the prototype stage or with a working proof of concept backed by data. You may already have some sales & traction. This enables us to validate that there is a need for your product and that you’re ready to work with our corporate partners. The next step is to work with the corporate partner to scale your technology.

For organisations what’s important is an openness to collaborate and scale your idea.

  • Have Impactful, Viable and Scalable ideas:
  • Impactful: to massively benefit society by extracting value whilst reducing the CO2 footprint of the entire food value chain 
  • Viable: be able to demonstrate traction amongst consumers, manufacturers and their supply base (including farmers)
  • Scalable: be able to scale at agricultural, manufacture, distribution or disposal stage of food production 

Can be from any geography. However note that our partner corporations are all headquartered in Europe so physical collaboration would be in Europe.  Startups should ensure they are able to travel to Europe for discussions.

Details regarding Corporate Partners technological areas of interest

We seek startups or organisations, who have proven solutions or technologies, in the following areas:

1. Food processing solutions (technology, software, control) that minimizes waste and the use of energy, water and chemicals. Including, but not only covering: 

  • Improved efficiency in food processing, including automation
  • Reducing energy consumption in drying
  • Using more renewable energy & waste to generate energy
  • Green extraction processes 
  • Minimizing use of green and blue water, maximizing use of recycled grey water

2. Technology solutions to reduce the CO2 footprint of food production, distribution & disposal. Including, but not only covering:

  • Food Production: Using renewable energy on farms; Solutions for regenerative farming; Reducing emissions in agricultural production (ie Fewer chemicals for fertilization & crop protection; More organic fertilizer); Access to raw materials with lower CO2 impact (at the right cost) through new and more efficient agricultural practices;   Alternatives to naturally grown products (i.e. fermentation based solutions vs farming); Substitution of environmentally harmful products (Production of dairy-alternative proteins, drinks or powder; Production and processing of cell based meat alternatives)
  • Distribution: Technologies to promote longer shelf life of products to reduce waste (e.g. antimicriobial) 
  • Disposal: Better manure management; Use of biomass for energy production productivity increase

3. Value creation/upcycling of food processing side streams. Including, but not only covering:

  • Technologies and creative ideas to transform by-products, or waste materials of food processing into new materials providing the basis for a new usable product and to improve resource use and efficiency. For example ingredients that could be useful as cosmetic actives, fragrance & flavour ingredients, food and nutrition ingredients, odour inhibitors; or solvents through upcycling 

4.  Sustainable (plastic-free) bottling and food packaging. Including, but not only covering:
Maximize use of recycled and recyclable material 
Reduced packaging and amount of different packaging materials
Re-using packaging
Replace plastics with bio-plastics, microplastics alternatives or paper
Facilitate recycling of packaging through its design
Biodegradable polymer technology to encapsulate fragrances

The key dates are:

  • June 15 2020: Program launch and call for applications
  • July 31, 2020: Closure of applications call at 23:59 CEST
  • Aug 28, 2020: Announcement of the 6 finalists
  • Sept 24, 2020: Challenge Day - Pitching session on-line or face-to-face in Lausanne 
  • After Oct, 2020: Collaboration between successful startups & corporates

About MassChallenge

MassChallenge is a global network of zero-equity startup accelerators. Headquartered in the United States with locations in Boston, Israel, Mexico, Rhode Island, Switzerland, and Texas, MassChallenge is committed to strengthening the global innovation ecosystem by supporting high-potential startups across all industries, from anywhere in the world. To date, more than 2,400 MassChallenge alumni have raised more than $6.2B in funding, generated more than $3B in revenue, and created more than 157,000 total jobs. Learn more about MassChallenge at masschallenge.org. 

MassChallenge Switzerland  Partners

Barry Callebaut, Bühler, Nestlé, GEA, Givaudan, Swiss Economic Forum, Inartis Foundation, Südzucker, Amcor,  Philip Morris International, Canton of VAUD (Economic Promotion), Candon of VAUD (Board of Higher Education), GSK, Mazars, Kellerhals - Carrard, Reuteler & Cie, Federation International de I’Automobile and EIT Food.
 

Mission

MassChallenge strengthens the global innovation ecosystem by accelerating high-potential startups across all industries, from anywhere in the world.