Happy Birthday, ProVeg Incubator!

In November 2018 (one year when this blog was written), ProVeg launched the world’s first incubator for plant-based and cultivated food innovations. Celebrate and take a look back with us.

Two incredible teams make my day and spin my world around: my twin boys Leo and Tom – and our startups at the ProVeg Incubator. Both started out at around the same time: The kids were born a year ago, just a few days before ProVeg International launched its new incubator (yes, I have been busy). So a few weeks ago, I could not only celebrate my boys’ first birthday with my family. At work, we also celebrated one year of the ProVeg Incubator with the team. Happy birthday, ProVeg Incubator!

Now that the confetti shower has settled, let’s do a wrap-up of the first year at the ProVeg Incubator – from the kick-off event to our startups and mentors.

Pitching, pitching, pitching

Vera Tinkova, Cheese the Queen, pitching at ProVeg Incubator Demo Day

On November 1, 2018 – on World Vegan Day – ProVeg officially launched its new incubator. More than 80 guests from the food industry, retail, investment houses and non-profit-organisations attended the opening night. The first cohort of startups at the ProVeg Incubator entered the stage and pitched to the audience. Later on, guests could taste their delicious products – from plant-based camembert to protein-rich chocolate bars – and talk to the founders.

Since then, more than 30 startups have joined the ProVeg Incubator to take their business to the next level. Our three-month programme includes in-house weeks at our Incubator space in Berlin, tailor-made workshops about topics like packaging, regulation and pitching, and access to our exclusive network of food-industry experts. At the end of the programme, startups present their work at our closing Pitch and Demo Day. This event took place for the first time in February 2019, then again in July (the next edition is in December 2019).

At our festive closing events, startups have the opportunity to pitch to an international panel of impact investors, including New Crop Capital, Blue Horizon, Katjesgreenfood, and Atlantic Food Labs. Furthermore we run virtual pitches with the Glass Wall Syndicate, a worldwide group of venture capitalists, foundations, trusts, non-profits, and individual investors. At the first pitch day in February, biotech startup Mushlabs was voted best startup of the cohort. In July, tempeh-innovators Better Nature won that competition.

Better Nature co-founders, Christopher Kong and Elin Roberts

Founders from all over the world

From the beginning, our startup cohorts were diverse and international. We are receiving applications from all over Europe, but also India, Argentina and Israel. The founding teams so far have come from more than 16 countries. They work on new plant-based milk drinks, cheese and desserts, explore alternative protein sources like mushroom roots and macro algae, and work on pioneering innovations like clean dairy and cultivated meat products.

As diverse as these startups are, their founders all have one thing in common: They want to contribute to ProVeg’s mission to reduce global animal consumption by 50% by the year 2040. The ProVeg Incubator brings together mission-driven founders with sound business models to change the food system for good.

Big thanks to mentors and guides

Apart from workshops, co-working space, and coachings, giving the founders access to our unique network is our biggest asset. Our vibrant ecosystem of investors, retailers, corporate partners, public institutions, and not-for-profit organisations is constantly growing. From the start, our committed mentors and guides made all the difference. Since kicking off the programme in the fall of 2018, we ran dozens of workshops, fireside chats and coachings with seasoned experts like Matt Tom (on scaling), David Benzaquen (on business models), Nick Willer (on team) or Tobias Teufer (on food law), to name but a few.

We assign a dedicated guide to each of our startups; these industry experts advise our founders and help them solve their specific problems throughout the programme – and often way beyond. So celebrating the incubator’s first anniversary also means giving a big shout-out to our mentors and guides. They rock and make our venture so unique.

Founding members of Greenwise, a plant-based meat company out of Russia

Exclusive events and meet-ups

Pitches and samplings at ProVeg’s New Food Conference in Berlin, joint exhibitions at Seeds & Chips in Milan, meet-ups with business leaders like John Mackey, founder of Wholefoods, or cellular agriculture pioneer Mark Post. The list of highlights of our first year at the ProVeg Incubator is longer than this blog post. For me, working with mission-driven founders is a highlight for each new cohort. That is why the diverse startup teams at our Incubator make my world go round (almost as much as my twin boys Leo and Tom do). Happy Birthday ProVeg Incubator!

Albrecht Wolfmeyer is Head of the ProVeg Incubator and has worked on the accelerator programme since its conception.

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