Several pioneering plant- and cell-based food startups have recently joined ProVeg Incubator, the world’s first food accelerator programme dedicated to shaping the future of food worldwide.
Located in Berlin, a vegan capital and one of the fastest-growing startup hubs in the world, the ProVeg Incubator fosters an inspiring environment for emerging food entrepreneurs to become future leaders in the market. “The programme was officially launched on 1 November 2018,” says Albrecht Wolfmeyer, who heads up the Incubator team. “On our opening night, the founders of the first batch of startups pitched their products and services to an audience of 80 guests from the food industry, retail, and scientific institutions.”
The latest Incubator cohort
The newest initiatives to join the programme are: Alvego, who produce and design convenient macro algae foods; Epicure, which is about to disrupt the foie gras industry withFoie Green, a 100% plant-based recipe that resembles foie gras; Everymeal, which aims to make out-of-home eating more plant-based with healthy, on-the-go options; iFood, which offers affordable, tasty, new products that appeal to vegans, vegetarians, and reducetarians worldwide; Brannatura, a maker of nutrition-packed, cereal-based beverages; Pläin, a dairy milk alternative that brings a whole new level of plant-based enjoyment; Pink Albatross, which develops and markets clean-label plant-based ice creams and desserts that outperform in taste and texture; Vegan Gourmet, an artisan cashew nut-based cheese startup based in Romania; Von Georgia, which creates delicious, healthy, plant-based alternatives to traditional sweet treats; and Cell Farm Food Tech, the first clean-meat startup from Latin America, which produces meat without killing a single animal.
These leading-edge startups will now be connected to the ProVeg Incubator’s vibrant ecosystem of investors, retailers, public institutions, and non-profit organisations – ready to transform innovative ideas into successful businesses.
A global Incubator team
The Incubator programme has a diverse team from four different countries. ‘We scout startups at events, partners recommend them to us, or they find us via our online and social media channels,’ says Marketing and Communications Manager Louise Cullen. As part of ProVeg International, the programme’s mission is to reduce global animal consumption by 50% by the year 2040, while building a sustainable food system. The Incubator welcomes both early-stage and established startups.
“We look for startups that want to transform the global food culture by taking animals out of the equation,” says Wolfmeyer. “We aim to support this transformation in different areas and on different levels. We keep a sharp focus on plant-based and cellular agriculture startups. However, it’s worth mentioning that there is a whole universe of innovative products and business ideas out there – from plant-based snacks and ingredients to cultivated milk or meat.”
Via the Incubator, startups are introduced to seasoned food industry experts, investors, business angels, distributors, and other partners in their network. They can also discuss their questions with ProVeg experts from other departments, like Food Industry and Retail, or Food Services.
“Our most valuable asset is our network,” says Wolfmeyer. “It consists of international company founders, impact investors, retail experts, food industry consultants, mentors, and alumni. As matchmakers, we introduce our startups to the right people at the right time. This can make all the difference in their entrepreneurial journey.”
“Working with startup founders is a highlight for each new cohort. Every startup is different and so is every entrepreneur. But they also have a lot in common: the mission to change the food system, the drive to create innovative products and services, and the commitment to make the most of this leg of their entrepreneurial journey together.”
Albrecht Wolfmeyer, Head of the ProVeg Incubator
A tailored learning experience
Considering that they come from a range of different places, how will the Incubator programme co-ordinate the networking and training opportunities designed to fast-track these germinating companies?
Wolfmeyer responds: “Our workshop programme covers essential topics such as branding and fundraising. At the same time, we will work with each startup individually to reach the goals we set together with them. Depending on their needs and stage, we help them with their business plans, introduce them to retailers, and prepare them to meet investors. Our startups have thus far come from over 15 countries, and our programme is in English, which works well.” A sound level of English is required for successful participation in the programme.
From a branding, design and marketing perspective, ProVeg Incubator works with a range of experienced mentors in the field of design, packaging and branding, who run workshops and consult with the startups to help them come up with their individual design solutions. Some, like Nucao, have their own in-house designers, while others work with agencies or freelancers. ‘There is no one-size-fits-all solution; it has to be tailor-made,’ says Wolfmeyer.
Facing the future together
The ProVeg Incubator also displays startups on its website, showcases them at events, and has their products in its incubator space. In turn, the startups mention the programme as part of their entrepreneurial journey.
Several ProVeg Incubator startups already have products on the shelves. These include Nu+ Company and Terra Vegane, who have products in bio/specialty stores throughout Germany, and Greenwise, which is present across 2,000 stores in Russia. When it comes to fast-tracking the future of food, it seems the proof is in the (plant-based) pudding!