Designed to help early stage Australian food start-ups, Mars Food Australia has launched its Seeds of Change project. The accelerator is in partnership with Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL).
At a launch event last night (28 May) Mars Food Australia general manager Hamish Thomson explained six participants will be selected for a tailored four-month program to tackle their biggest individual challenges to growth. They will also recieve a grant of up to $40,000.
Thomson says Mars won't be seeking equity in the start-ups because "it didn't feel right". For Mars, it was about nurturing the next generation of food innovators, like the founders of Mars Food, he says.
R&D director for Mars Peter Crane says the accelerator is a first for the company. "We hope we can share some of the lessons we hae learnt along the way and, in turn, would be delighted to learn ourselves from the start-ups we are lucky enough to work with," he says.
Thomson reiterated that, saying Seeds of Change was about embracing a "possibilities mindset". For Thomson, entrepreneurs operate very differently from a large, established multinational company, and he saw the project as beneficial for Mars as for the participants.
Applications are open for Australian-based, food-focused start-ups with innovative differentiated offerings, new business models and emerging technology in one or more of eight focus areas:
- sharing world flavours;
- easy-meal solutions;
- responsible food;
- creating with care;
- better for you;
- plant-based eating;
- accessing Asia; and
- food manufacturing and value chain transformation.