Rabobank, Media Release, 14 April 2021
Innovative Australian food and agri startups have the opportunity to showcase their businesses on the world stage by applying for a spot on this year’s international FoodBytes! Pitch program.
FoodBytes! is global agribusiness bank Rabobank’s food and agriculture innovation platform – designed to drive collaboration between startups, corporate leaders, investors and farmers as part of a major international program to help address food system challenges.
Launched in the US in 2015, FoodBytes! attracts entrepreneurs from around the globe to participate in a multi-week program which helps develop and grow their businesses through global industry exposure, tailored mentorship sessions, individualised connections with corporates and investors, pitch refinement and industry awareness and recognition. The program culminates in selected participants presenting in a global virtual pitch competition.
Calling for applicants for this year’s program, Rabobank Australia Head of Innovation, Knowledge & Networks Nathalie Gibson said FoodBytes! was seeking startups – ranging from ‘seed’ stage to those commercially engaged in the market – who are working on “truly innovative food and agri products or technology with a demonstrated market fit” in one of three sectors – ag tech, food tech and consumer food and beverage.
“FoodBytes! is scouting globally for startups with developed business models, demonstrated commercial traction, a robust team and a cross-industry collaborative mindset which have the potential to drive meaningful and sustainable change throughout the food value chain,” she said.
Startup applicants are sought in the following areas:
- Sustainable supply chains: blockchain/traceability, livestock management, animal feed efficiency, meat processing automation, byproduct upcycling, commodities processing, shelf-life extension, clean food processing
- Improved resource management: carbon sequestration & reduction, precision irrigation, food loss mitigation, sustainable packaging, manufacturing robotics, on-farm automation, ag biotechnology, precision ag & AI, indoor farming
- Next frontier of nutrition: functional ingredients (i.e. aging, mental clarity, performance, immunity), food biotechnology/fermentation, cellular agriculture, grain & sugar alternatives, meal prep/home cooking simplification, personalised nutrition, consumer wearables & data gathering.
A group of 45 startups will be chosen to participate in the program, made up of 15 companies from each of the three categories. Following an in-depth mentoring and coaching program, a shortlist of 15 will be chosen to present at the FoodBytes! 2021 virtual global pitch competition in November, with a winner chosen in each category.
Ms Gibson said Australian startups had already featured impressively in previous FoodBytes!, with Western Australian precision irrigation and fertiliser platform SWAN Systems being named last year’s global agtech category winner, while Albury-based agricultural biotech company ProAgni was among the top 15 selected to present in 2020 and three other Australian startups featured in the top 45, chosen from a field of 340 applicants across 14 countries.
ProAgni co-founder and CEO Lachlan Campbell said being involved in the global FoodBytes! program had given the company “significant operational leverage”.
“ProAgni continues to receive inbound interest from investors and engaged corporate members,” he said. “We’d never have these kinds of conversations in Australia alone – we couldn’t have expected more out of the FoodBytes! program.”
FoodBytes! applications close on May 16, with the finalists to be announced on September 8. The live-streamed public pitch competition will be held on November 10.
Each of the three category winners will receive prizes and consulting support to contribute to their business growth, while all 45 startups chosen for the program will have access to the FoodBytes! network of more than 350 global alumni entrepreneurs and receive ongoing connections and guidance to help drive their businesses forward.
To apply or for more information, visit www.foodbytesworld.com/apply.
Corporates, investors and farmers interested in learning more about joining the FoodBytes! community can email FoodBytes@rabobank.com.