Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator, which will be based in Minneapolis, will launch in 2018. The first class of ten start-ups will arrive in the US city this summer for a 13-week programme. Applications open in January.
Techstars said it is looking for start-ups that aim to advance “key aspects” of the food system, including food security and safety, ag tech, consumer goods and supply chain management.
The accelerator will focus on helping start-ups develop their technology, secure capital and expand their industry reach. Participants will be offered mentor support from Cargill and Ecolab executives as well as access to the companies’ market expertise, global connections and investment capital.
Cargill chief innovation officer Justin Kershaw said that the accelerator will allow Cargill to invest its “time and resources” in the technology “shaping the future” of food production. In this way, the group wants to “address some of the greatest challenges facing the food system”.
“The Techstars Farm to Fork accelerator will identify start-up companies from around the world who have innovative ideas focused on agriculture, food-related digital technology, food processing and food safety and invite them to a three-month mentorship-driven accelerator program. Cargill, along with Ecolab and Techstars, will manage this program,” Kershaw told FoodNavigator.
Accessing ‘start-up mentality’
Cargill is investing in this start-up accelerator at a time when many large corporations aim to develop more network-based, collaborative systems characterised by agility and experimental innovation.
Kershaw said that the partnership with Techstars is a way to “inject start-up energy” into Cargill. “We are committed to creating a culture that fosters technology innovation through internal expertise and external partnerships," he explained.
“Early stage investment in innovative start-ups expose our company to many new and important ideas in the areas of food safety and security. We believe this partnership will identify important new food technologies that can be leveraged to feed a growing world population.”
The accelerator is scheduled to continue for three years, engaging both early stage entrepreneurs and late stage start-ups.