Family-owned Mars Inc. announced the launch of its Seeds of Change Accelerator March 5 at the Natural Products Expo. The project is designed to help early stage food-focused companies fast-track growth and live their purpose to build a healthier and more sustainable future.
The Seeds of Change Accelerator, named after the Mars Food organic seed and food brand, will select six U.S. and four Australian participants in the following areas: start-up food brands, innovative experiential offerings, new business models, and emerging technology. The search will focus on companies that share London-based Mars Food’s values of World Flavors, Plant-Based Eating, Easy-Meal Solutions, Responsible Food and Creating with Care.
“We’re committed to nurturing the next generation of food innovators who are dedicated to creating and delivering healthier and tastier food solutions for more people,” said Fiona Dawson, global president of Mars Food, multisales and global customers and sponsor of the program. “The accelerator is one of the many ways Mars Food is working to bring our purpose—’Better Food Today. A Better World Tomorrow.’—to life.”
In addition to a grant of up to $50,000 (U.S.), each start-up will undertake a tailored four-month program to scale its operations. The program, led by Gary Arora, global lead of open innovation at Launchpad for Mars, will give the start-ups access to a panel of industry expert mentors. These include Stephen Badger, chairman of the board for Mars Inc.; Rohan Oza, an iconic brand builder and recent “guest shark” on Shark Tank; and JKR, a design-led creative agency credited with launching notable start-ups.
“The Seeds of Change brand is a prime example of the power of starting small and growing strong,” said Arora. “Seeds of Change was founded nearly 30 years ago to preserve the biodiversity of seeds and to make these organically grown seeds more readily available to gardens and farmers. By helping start-ups tackle practical business challenges, such as scaling a product and brand storytelling, and giving them access to our extended network of mentors and advisors, we’re nurturing the next generation of fresh ideas that will shape and enhance the meals of tomorrow.”
Purpose-driven food-focused start-ups are encouraged to visit www.socaccelerator.com by May 31 to apply to join the Seeds of Change Accelerator’s first cohort.