Founder Institute, the world’s largest pre-seed accelerator has announced its third Food Ecosystem Programme, which will run from September 9 to December 18, 2020. The program is an opportunity for early-stage food tech entrepreneurs to receive expert support and positively impact communities around the world. 

In light of COVID-19 restrictions, this year the program will be available virtually for the first time. It will be part of the wider Finland Virtual Fall program, where entrepreneurs and leaders receive guidance about how to build businesses that matter in today’s society. 

Helsinki: a hub for food innovation 

Adeo Ressi, CEO & Founder of Founder Institute

Based in Helsinki, Finland, the Founder Institute’s Global Center of Excellence for Food Ecosystem has begun searching for mentors and partners to join the program. The aim is to facilitate building more than 30 successful food and agri-tech startups, as well as further Helsinki’s role as a hub for food innovation. In Europe alone, the Founder Institute has collectively raised above €60 million and helped launch 500 companies – including Resistomap and FuelMe from Helsinki.

“Discovering and optimizing better ways to care for and produce food is essential to the future of our world,” said Founder and CEO of the Founder Institute, Adeo Ressi. “Severely damaged by the pandemic, our food ecosystem needs new solutions – and I’m confident big solutions … will come from entrepreneurs with the vision to build impactful food startups.”

‘Changing the world of food for the better’

In 2019, food tech investment in Europe totaled €2.4 billion, making the continent the leading location for the industry. Startups in the region include Higher Steaks, a UK company developing cell-based meats, Gousto, a meal-kit delivery service, and Natural Machines, a Spanish venture with a 3D food-printing kitchen appliance. Europe’s flourishing food tech scene makes it a natural backdrop for Founder Institute’s Food Ecosystem Programme. 

As part of the program, entrepreneurs will receive feedback and advice from top mentors across the food ecosystem, make connections with global and local industry players, and meet corporate and angel investors. They will also have access to over €1.5 million worth of partner deals and resources. Top candidates will be considered for a fellowship, allowing them to participate in the program free of charge. 

Janne Saarikko, Lead Director of the Food Ecosystem Programme

While the program covers a range of food sectors, special sub-tracks focus on food and retail, production and supply chain, products and services in the food chain, agriculture, and HORECA (hotels, restaurants, and catering). 

Janne Saarikko, Lead Director of the Food Ecosystem Programme, said that the programme has “a strong and motivated roster of global experts from various disciplines of the food ecosystem globally. We are seeing the deepest commitment from our mentors and partners, and together with them we are doing our very best to change the world of food for the better.”

Entrepreneurs from any location can apply to the program for free via the sign-up form. The deadline to apply is August 30, 2020. 

The Founder Institute in Helsinki

In anticipation of the program, the Helsinki Founder Institute is hosting a free online event for food and agri-tech startups on July 1: ‘Ask Me Anything,’ which will involve alumni of the Founder Institute in Helsinki. The event will be a chance to leverage the knowledge and experience of entrepreneurs from the Finland-based branch of the accelerator, which has graduated more than 38 startups since 2012. 

“Over the last few years, I have seen more innovative food ecosystem initiatives launch in Finland than any of the other 60 plus countries where the Founder Institute operates,” said Ressi.

The Food Ecosystem Programme will be annexed to the Finland Virtual Fall 2020 program, which is dedicated to helping startups launch or grow with the help of mentors and investors. Mentors of the specialized course include the top food tech startup founders in the region, as well as industry leaders from the Kyrö Distillery, The Helsinki Distilling Company, VTT, and Mycorena AB. 

Founded in 2009 by Adeo Ressi and Jonathan Greechan, the Founder Institute has chapters across 150 cities and 60 countries and has helped raise in excess of $950 million in funding. Some of the world’s fastest-growing startup founders have used Founder Institute programs to test ideas, raise funding, acquire customers, and pivot from employee to entrepreneur. The Founder Institute’s mission is to ‘globalize Silicon Valley’ and generate empowered entrepreneurs throughout markets and the world. 

To learn more about the Food Ecosystem program, visit the application page.