The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a nonprofit scientific organisation with global members spanning academia, government, and industry and committed to advancing the science of food and its application across the global food system, is proud to announce the return of the large format Startup Pavilion to IFT FIRST in 2024.

This popular showcase of global food and food tech startups attracted nearly 9,000 visitors and featured more than 85 companies from 14 countries last year with innovations ranging from technological solutions that improve ingredient quality and safety to innovative consumers goods already on the market. Only 100 total spots are available.

The Startup Pavilion brings together food startups and food-related startups in all stages of growth to McCormick Place in Chicago, the site of IFT’s annual event. This year’s event, which is expected to attract more than 17,000 ingredient providers, business leaders, product developers, food scientists and other members of the science of food community, is being held July 14-17, 2024.

“The Startup Pavilion is an exciting opportunity for innovative startups from across the globe to showcase their solutions to investors, key decision-makers, and industry stakeholders that they may not otherwise have access to,” said IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean.

“The Startup Pavilion encapsulates this year’s IFT FIRST theme of collaboration and innovation as we highlight game-changing products and applications with the potential to transform the food system.”

Also returning this year as part of the Startup Pavilion is The Pitch, a multi-stage rapid-pitch competition spanning three days where startups compete for prizes totaling $15,000. Each round of the competition is judged by a panel of professionals who represent the entire global food ecosystem, including those from venture capitalist firms and startup incubators, innovation leaders, academic researchers, research and design professionals, and government officials. Finalists from The Pitch will once again have the opportunity to attend an invitation-only founders and funders networking event that connects startups and social enterprises with potential investors and supporting partners.

Last year, Helaina, a biotech company whose technology platform replicates bioactive functional proteins found in the body, took home The Pitch grand prize of $10,000. SnapDNA, whose groundbreaking technology reduces pathogen detection in food from days to hours, and unClassic foods, which creates a plant-based meat substitute from oyster mushrooms, were selected as runners-up, each receiving $2500. The prize money for The Pitch is provided by the Seeding The Future Foundation.

"By recognising and supporting game-changing new approaches highlighted by participants in the Startup Pavilion, The Pitch, and the Global Food System Challenge, we move closer to the goal of implementing creative and impactful solutions that can provide the growing global population with equitable access to affordable, safe, and nutritious food,” added Seeding The Future Foundation founder Bernhard van Lengerich.

In partnership with IFT, the Seeding The Future Foundation funds the annual Seeding The Future Global Food System Challenge, which invites scientists, engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and multidisciplinary teams to submit their game-changing innovations that will help transform the food system, each vying for part of the $1 million that is awarded to Grand Prize, Growth Grant, and Seed Grant winners.

At IFT FIRST, winners from this year's Challenge will discuss their winning innovations with attendees and are also invited to join The Pitch finalists at the founders and funders networking event.

To secure a spot in the Startup Pavilion, click here.

Attendee and exhibitor registration opens March 1, 2024. To start planning for IFT FIRST, go to iftevent.org.

Upcoming Events Submit an Event


Sydney Spirits Festival promises an extraordinary journey for the senses, offering attendees the opportunity to explore rare and award-winning spirits from international and boutique distillers.

CSIRO, in conjunction with Dennis Forte and Associates, is running a three-day short course as an comprehensive introduction to food engineering. With practical examples and case-studies, engineering concepts in the context of food will be studied.  

Top industry leaders and pioneering innovators will come together at Workplace Health & Safety Show taking place in both Melbourne and Sydney in 2024.

Now in its third year, Commbank SmallBiz Week is a must-attend event for small and large businesses alike. Attracting thousands of visitors across three days, the event brings together B2B suppliers from a diverse range of industries with small business owners and leaders. Whether you’re in the market to buy or sell, Commbank SmallBiz Week is the only event of its kind on the business calendar.

Vinexpo Asia is the region's flagship event for the wine and spirits industries, connecting producers from wine producing countries around the world with decision-makers in growth markets over three days.

This industry event is dedicated to ESG, food waste, and sustainable packaging innovations - supporting the WA food and beverage sector’s transition to a circular economy. Early bird passes are available for sale until 30 April.


Australia’s leading business expo for natural and healthy products, Naturally Good, is returning on 2-4 June at the Sydney International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour. Visitor registrations are now open.   

This course will provide participants with necessary skills to design a safe and commercially viable thermal schedule for the processing of low-acid food products in hermetically sealed packaging.

The June long weekend festival is certainly one not to be missed. The full festival program features premium tastings, live entertainment, and unique sensory cellar door experiences from 16 of our region’s wineries.


As the only vending industry show in South-East Asia, Vend ASEAN is an indispensable platform for expanding into the South-East Asian Market.