The Food Lab at UT announced an early-stage startup competition, The Food Lab Challenge, to encourage innovation in food agriculture, distribution, packaging and consumption. In its inaugural year at The University of Texas at Austin, the competition will award $30,000 in prizes. Registration begins June 1, 2014, and is open to anyone, anywhere, from undergraduate students to established entrepreneurs interested in launching business ventures that produce a food product that can be eaten by consumers.
Registrants form teams of four or five members to aid the development of their business plans and supporting materials. The Food Lab is looking for team ideas that not only result in a great product but also impact and improve how the food supply chain functions. Teams should consider how their product or service has potential global impact in one or more of the following categories:
Inputs and Production
Processing, Packaging and Safety
Storage and Distribution
Healthy Eating and Food Education
A winner in each category will receive $5,000 and be eligible for the grand prize of $10,000; a total of $30,000 in cash rewarded.
June 1, 2014 – Registration opens
September 30, 2014 – Food Lab Challenge registration ends, business plans due
November 1, 2014 – Finalist teams chosen and paired with mentors
February 14, 2015 – Winning teams announced
“By encouraging entrepreneurs to innovate new solutions to problems within our food system, the Food Lab brings together skills and disciplines that are not commonly included food startup discussions,” says Metcalfe. “The Food Lab engages scientists, engineers, historians, geographers, nutritionists, urban designers, linguists, agronomists, farmers, and artists.”
Teams chosen as finalists will be notified in early November. At that time, finalists will be paired with industry mentors who will guide the strengthening of business plans and the development of prototypes. Winning teams will be announced at an event in Austin scheduled for February 14, 2015.