Nestlé USA has launched a new accelerator programme in a bid to support emerging start-ups in the food and agriculture sectors.
The Terra scheme consists of a partnership with Rabobank and RocketSpace, with around 20 startups being supported over the duration of two six-month programmes.
Nestlé aims to select and coach the most innovative new businesses in the food and agricultural industry to work on product testing. It expects more than 1,000 brands to apply.
As a result of a ‘seismic shift’ in the food industry, the company said the partnership would enable it to meet consumer expectations and explore new business models.
Yesterday it was announced that Nestlé bought a minority stake in US prepared meal provider Freshly. The Swiss food giant is the lead investor in the $77 million round of funding, aiming to help Freshly tap into the $10 billion market for online prepared meals in the US.
Chief strategy officer at Nestlé USA Rui Barbas said: “When we combine the resources of Nestlé with the creativity and new thinking born from the startup culture, we can create real change in our industry and best deliver on consumer needs.”
Manuel Gonzalez of Rabobank highlighted the complementary capabilities of the parties involved in the Terra project, stating: “Combining Nestlé’s expertise in nutrition, health and wellness with RocketSpace’s well-known accelerator acumen within the start-up community and Rabobank’s strong involvement in the food and beverage start-up community, we expect dynamic results from the collaboration.”
Nestlé hopes the scheme will provide fresh thinking from outside the organisation to keep it at the forefront of the rapidly-changing market.
It is the latest multinational to launch such a programme. Last week, the finalists of PepsiCo’s nutrition incubator were announced, including makers of insect snacks and seaweed protein. The Nutrition Greenhouse was launched in April, with the eight finalists given a grant of €25,000 and the chance to work alongside PepsiCo for six months.
Dairy company Chobani also began a similar programme last year, inviting start-ups and entrepreneurs who aim to ‘challenge big food companies with natural and affordable foods’.
As the world’s largest food company, Nestlé said it wants to tackle innovation from multiple angles. In 2013, it launched its Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost to work alongside entrepreneurs to deploy new value-added services and solutions for their consumers around the world.
The first of the two Nestlé-hosted Terra programmes will be selected in the autumn of this year and the call for applications for the second cohort will be open in early 2018.
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