Rabobank today announced the redesign of its FoodBytes! food and agriculture innovation platform, which features an expanded startup discovery program FoodBytes! Pitch and a reinvented corporate innovation program FoodBytes! Pilot. Startups can apply for FoodBytes! Pitch through August 10.
“The FoodBytes! redesign is the result of a year’s worth of planning to reimagine how our network can work harder for startups, large food and ag corporations and investors in driving industry change,” said Anne Greven, global head of F&A innovation, Rabobank. “Since FoodBytes! launched in 2015, we’ve hosted 17 total live pitch competitions across North America, Europe and Australia, but our vision is much larger than events. Our network has grown to 310 active startup alumni globally. We want to build a powerful engine for ongoing collaboration and innovation between food and agriculture change agents who want to feed the world sustainably.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that players in our food and ag system must be prepared for constant change and transformation. Rabobank is now playing a much larger role in helping companies adopt the innovation mindset and capabilities that are essential for a resilient food supply, as well as long-term business success,” added Greven.
New: FoodBytes! Pitch Offers Expanded Connections in Single, Virtual Program
Startup discovery platform FoodBytes! Pitch unveils today its expanded virtual program that offers corporate leaders and investors exposure to a larger group of startups – with opportunities for deeper connections and networking:
• Rabobank is expanding FoodBytes! Pitch to select 45 startups total, including 15 startups in each of three verticals: sustainable consumer foods (CPG), food tech, and agtech. This expanded pool of startups offers greater peer-to-peer networking opportunities, as well as more tailored mentorship in each vertical.
• The selected startups will participate in three weeks of digital programming that offers valuable exposure to corporate leaders and investors, mentorship and one-on-one connections.
• All 45 startups will have a chance to pitch their businesses via pre-recorded video to FoodBytes! judges. All 45 startups become FoodBytes! Pitch alumni who join Rabobank’s engaged community with ongoing support and introductions to help grow their businesses.
• The judges will select 15 finalists to participate in a public, live-streamed pitch competition on December 2, which will also be viewed by C-level executives participating in Rabobank’s Annual Food & Agriculture Summit.
The live-streamed pitch competition will culminate in the selection of one winner in each vertical: CPG, food tech and agtech. Being a FoodBytes! Pitch winner offers startups a valuable credential that opens doors, as well as deeper support from Rabobank to help them grow.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rabobank encourages applications from entrepreneurs whose technologies and products address critical food system challenges, including food loss mitigation, on-farm automation, animal health tech, shortened supply chains, accessible food e-commerce and functional ingredients. Corporate organizations and investors now gain access to all FoodBytes! Pitch startups, as well as the programming designed to create meaningful connections, through a paid membership.
Introducing the FoodBytes! Pilot Corporate Innovation Program
Rabobank has also launched FoodBytes! Pilot, a reinvented corporate innovation program which replaces its TERRA accelerator and its cohort format. The new 6-to-9 month program features consultative services that help corporate partners embed long-term innovation into their organizations — something that often requires organizational change.
• FoodBytes! Pilot is open year-round to corporate partners who receive consultative support to develop innovation objectives and create cultural change that supports success.
• Rabobank serves as a ‘matchmaker’ – pairing Pilot corporate partners with startups for customized pilot collaborations based on the organization’s unique goals and challenges. Partners receive Rabobank guidance and consultation throughout the pilot.
• For startups, FoodBytes! Pilot provides industry validation, due diligence for investors and accelerated growth through access to corporate resources.
Pilot collaborations between corporations and startups can result in mutually-beneficial outcomes, such as: product co-development, commercial partnerships, licensing agreements, new customer relationships and investment.
After a pilot is complete, Rabobank can connect corporate partners who want deeper change management and organizational transformation with consulting services via its partners.
“Our move to introduce FoodBytes! Pilot is about much more than a longer pilot collaboration between corporate partners and startups. It’s about our vision to help established food and ag companies future-proof their businesses, and solve real problems, in a rapidly changing food and ag landscape. Our partners know that their continued success — and their impact on sustainability goals — requires new ways of thinking and operating,” said Greven. “Rabobank brings expertise, a large network of startups and consultant partners to the table to help them manage through change.”