Simplot wants to ignite foodtech innovation

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Simplot wants to ignite foodtech innovation

Targets early engagement with disruptive start-ups.

FMCG giant Simplot Australia has jumped on the start-up bandwagon in an effort to boost technology innovation in the food space.

The Simplot Ignite program is being run in partnership with the Slingshot accelerator program, which has previously partnered with NRMA and private health insurer HCF.

The accelerator is open to foodtech start-ups with a focus on personalised nutrition, customer acquisition and retention, food for healthy ageing, agribusiness or food convenience. Up to eight positions for start-ups are available.

In exchange for participation, the start-ups will hand over 10 percent equity in their businesses, which will be held by Slingshot in order to minimise Simplot’s risk exposure.

The start-ups will receive a $30,000 investment, the opportunity to work with Simplot, and 12 weeks of mentoring including training and infrastructure support, as well as marketing, legal and financial advice.

At the conclusion of the three month program, participants will be able to pitch their businesses to investors at a demonstration day, with the opportunity to secure second-round investment of up to $100,000 from the Slingshot venture fund.

Applications for the program launch today and run until December 23. Following the Christmas break, shortlisted candidates will have a chance to pitch their businesses in February, with the program running from February to April.

Start-ups participating in the program will retain their intellectual property.

Slingshot founder Craig Lambert told iTnews Simplot’s primary motivation was to gain first-hand insight into some of the innovative new ideas coming out of the Australian foodtech ecosystem.

“Corporates are great at delivering sustained innovation, but delivering disruptive innovation is not something they’re structured for. So by participating, Simplot gets to hear a lot of great new ideas,” Lambert said.

“The good news is the [accelerator] program is short and intense, so by April they will have had access to eight validated ideas."

Lambert said after the conclusion of the program, the start-ups were free to run their own business - including partnering with a Simplot competitor.

“Simplot gets a first look at the start-ups by virtue of the fact they are engaging with them. While it’s not set in stone, they have built the relationship very early if they decide they want to make an offer,” Lambert said.

The launch of the Ignite program comes after the food giant sponsored the food-focused HackFood hackathon event at the Fishburners co-working space earlier this month.

Simplot Australia is a subsidiary of the US-based JR Simplot Company, with Australian brands including Edgell, Birds Eye, Leggo's, Quorn, Lean Cuisine, John West, and Chiko.

Telstra, Seven West and the CSIRO have also adopted the accelerator model in order to boost innovation in recent months. Likewise, News Corp has struck up partnerships with co-working spaces Fishburners in Sydney and Majoran Distillery in Adelaide.

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