Global innovation platform, Plug and Play, announced its newest location in Chicago. This office will focus on connecting startups, corporations, and investors working on innovating the food and beverage industry. Since 2017, Plug and Play has run a food and beverage program out of their headquarters in Silicon Valley and has since expanded to Bangkok, Milan, São Paulo, and Shanghai. The new office in Chicago is scheduled to run its first official program in early 2021 with PepsiCo, Mondelēz International, DuPont, The Hershey Company, ADM, and many more as founding members.
"We look forward to starting our journey in Chicago. Our partners will bring their knowledge, expertise, and experience to help our startups grow. Connecting these key stakeholders and industry experts will bring new ideas to the food industry in a location ripe for disruption," said Michael Olmstead, chief revenue officer at Plug and Play.
Chicago is a hub for food manufacturing, distribution, and marketing, employing over 130,000 people in over 4,500 companies. Plug and Play's expansion to Chicago will provide an opportunity for corporations in the food industry to increase their exposure to external innovation through startup collaboration. Plug and Play's accelerator program in Chicago will offer business development, mentorship, and networking opportunities for startups, investors, and large food industry corporations. Twice per year, the founding corporations will choose 10 to 15 startups to benefit from these opportunities.
The Chicago office will be unique to Plug and Play's 30 international locations due to the hybridized nature of the program and offering of innovation days. This program will offer programming in both Chicago and Silicon Valley, Plug and Play's headquarters. Secondly, Innovation Days, while not new to Plug and Play, have never been incorporated into the programming as they will be in Chicago. These Innovation Days are events run by Plug and Play at partner corporations' offices dedicated to showcasing startups focused on commercialization within specific thematic areas such as ingredient or packaging innovation.
"We are excited to be founding members of Plug and Play Food US in Chicago and look forward to great innovations coming out of the collaboration it enables!" exclaimed Dr. Steven Hess, Sr. director of R&D transformational innovation at The Hershey Company.
"PepsiCo is excited to become a founding member of Plug and Play Chicago. This city is a major hub for the food and beverage industry and our company has roots here extending back to 1901 with our Quaker Oats brand. With Plug and Play Chicago and our more than 2,000 proud PepsiCo employees in the city, we intend to increase collaboration with the local corporate, investment and startup ecosystem and contribute to the city's economic vitality," said Sameer Talsania, senior manager, R&D External Innovation at PepsiCo.
"We are looking forward to continue our journey in identifying partners that can help us to solve challenges and opportunities for DuPont and our customers and accelerate innovation," said Birgitte Haber Borch, EVP f&b marketing at DuPont.
"Innovation, technology and scientific understanding is a driving force in the nutrition space to help companies meet the growing – and changing - demands of consumers. As an important hub for the food and beverage industry, Chicago is an ideal location for Plug and Play's new facility, and we are excited to support their Food accelerator program to nurture creativity and growth here at the home of our global headquarters," commented Victoria de la Huerga, vice president, ADM Ventures, the venture capital arm of ADM.