Applications for FoodBytes! Pitch are Open!
Now through May 16, startups can apply to participate in FoodBytes!, Rabobank’s food and agriculture innovation platform – it only takes 60 minutes!
Specifically, we are looking for startups innovating in:
1. Sustainable supply chains: blockchain/traceability, livestock management, animal feed efficiency, meat processing automation, byproduct upcycling, commodities processing, shelf-life extension, clean food processing
2. Improved resource management: carbon sequestration & reduction, precision irrigation, food loss mitigation, sustainable packaging, manufacturing robotics, on-farm automation, ag biotechnology, precision ag & AI, indoor farming
3. Next frontier of nutrition: functional ingredients (i.e., aging, mental clarity, performance, immunity), food biotechnology/fermentation, cellular agriculture, grain & sugar alternatives, meal prep/home cooking simplification, personalized nutrition, consumer wearables & data gathering
This year’s applicants will be vying for a coveted spot among the class of 45 startups – representing 15 companies in each of three sectors: agtech, food tech and CPG. Following an in-depth mentoring and coaching program in October, fifteen of the 45 will be chosen to present at the platform’s live-streamed public competition, which will be held on Wednesday, November 10.Apply Now
Startup Application Criteria
Robust, diverse team
Founding team possesses diverse and multi-disciplinary industry expertise, education backgrounds and ideas.
Validated business model
Clear value proposition and novel solution with a proven product market fit and path to commercialization.
Focus on people, profit & planet
Concept is focused on the triple bottom line
Demonstrated success or openness to working with strategic partners (industry leaders and investors).
Validation to growth stage
Company is piloting its technology or in market with its product (beyond ideation). Company is ready to scale / expand to new markets (Seed to Series B).
The FoodBytes! Startup Pitch Experience
FoodBytes! Pitch is an annual multi-week program that helps startups validate and grow their businesses – and their impact – through global industry exposure, tailored mentorship sessions, individualized strategic connections with corporates and investors, pitch refinement and media visibility. It is supported by the vast global Rabobank network, and a community of mission-driven alumni entrepreneurs.
Startup Engagement Timeline
April 5 - May 16
May 18 - July 30
September 8 - October 8
(Startups notified of selection August 2)
October 12 - October 20
(4 hour commitment per day)
October 19 - October 21
(15 finalist startups only)
November 8 - November 10
(15 finalist startups only)
Pitching at FoodBytes! FAQ
1. There are a million pitch competitions, what makes FoodBytes! different?
What began as a pitch event in 2015 has evolved into a leading food and agriculture innovation ecosystem. Beyond most entrepreneurs’ perception of a pitch competition, FoodBytes! is a discovery and networking platform that builds lasting connections between the most promising startups, corporates and investors.
2. What kind of companies should apply?
- Those working on a truly innovative product or technology with an application in food and agriculture. More specifically, those pioneering:
- Sustainable supply chains
- Blockchain / traceability, livestock management, animal feed efficiency, meat processing automation, byproduct upcycling, ag marketplaces, commodities processing, shelf-life extension, clean food processing
- Improved resource management
- Carbon sequestration and reduction, precision irrigation, food loss mitigation, sustainable packaging, manufacturing robotics, on-farm automation, ag biotechnology, precision ag & AI, indoor farming
- Next Frontier of Nutrition
- Functional ingredients (i.e. aging, mental clarity, performance, immunity), food biotechnology/fermentation, cellular agriculture, plant-based foods, grain & sugar alternatives, meal prep/home cooking simplification, personalized nutrition, consumer wearables & data gathering
- Sustainable supply chains
- Those disrupting a large market with a focus on sustainability and / or social impact (people, profit and planet)
- Those at seed to Series B stage (90% of successful applicants fall into this range)
- Those that are open to critical feedback, cross-collaboration and partnerships
3. Who are the alumni?
Hundreds of startups have pitched on the (physical and virtual) FoodBytes! stage. Watch some FoodBytes! alums’ pitch videos (above) and view the rest here.
4. Do you target specific types of startups in certain markets?
FoodBytes! is all about making relevant connections between corporates, startups and investors. As the platform has evolved, we’ve grown more global yet targeted in that intent. In 2020, the 45 hailed from 14 countries, and were selected because their products and technologies were relevant to our global set of members. Additionally, the startups demonstrated commercial relevance and a willingness to work directly with our corporate members in the markets in which they operate. Have a look (above) at the 2021 FoodBytes! Pitch members who are part of programming this year.
Note: FoodBytes! programming takes pace on Eastern Time (ET), with several components requiring “live” virtual attendance. That said, we encourage startups in other time zones to apply given their ability to manage participation requirements.
5. How does Rabobank evaluate and review applications?
We have a holistic review process that includes Rabobank food and agriculture experts and our FoodBytes! Members.
In the first round of scoring, 30+ Rabobank sector experts apply the 5 criteria outlined above to review each application and rank each component from 1-5. After discussing these scores and broader knowledge of industry trends, our internal committee selected about 200 startups to move forward to our second round of scoring.
In this stage, our corporate and investor members are invited to review the vetted applications, applying the same criteria. Through three rounds of Member scoring and discussion (one designated round for each sector – CPG, FoodTech and AgTech), we select 45 total finalists and invite them to join FoodBytes! Pitch. The review process takes place from May through August, and applicants will be notified of our decisions in September.
6. How many startups are selected to pitch at each edition of FoodBytes!?
We select 45 startups from hundreds of applications – 15 food tech startups, 15 agtech startups and 15 CPG startups.
7. It's a competition, so what do startups win?
From the 45 selected startups, 15 innovators will advance to the final stage of the program, culminating in a livestreamed public pitch competition. 3 innovators will walk away winners, taking home the FoodTech, AgTech and CPG Awards (selected by the judges). The winners also receive consultations with relevant members in multiple business development areas. All 45 startups get access to our members during the program, as well as lasting connections within the Rabobank network.
8. That all sounds great, but how does FoodBytes! help startups?
Our alumni can say it better than we ever could, and we personally think this video encapsulates the long-lasting value of FoodBytes! perfectly. Selected entrepreneurs gain connections to corporates and investors aligned with your business, stage and goals, resulting in productive conversations that open the door for meaningful long-term outcomes, including:
Investment (from strategic and financial investors)
- Corporate pilots
- Corporate customer relationships
- Key service provider relationships
- Targeted introductions within corporate organizations
- Feedback on products and technologies — and their commercial viability
- Insight into corporate resources and viewpoints that can refine startups’ approach to collaboration.
Stay in the Know
If you’re an entrepreneur interested in learning more, here’s how you can become an active member of our ecosystem: