Startup Innovation Challenge 2021

Discover cutting-edge innovation from the most exciting F&B startups.

6th Edition

The Fi Global Startup Innovation Challenge gives startups the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a jury of R&D experts, investors, and major F&B industry company representatives.

Entry Criteria

  • The startup should be no older than 5 years
  •  The product or service needs to be truly novel
  • The startup must have a clear business plan and a developed          concept at the very least, prototypes or the final product are               preferred


Entries for the Startup Innovation Challenge have now closed. 

2021 Categories

Startups can select multiple categories but will only compete in one. The shortlisting jury will determine which one is most suitable for applicants based on the information submitted. 

This category covers innovations that support improvements in ingredients sourcing and production, food safety, traceability, transparency, or supply chain management.

This category covers innovations related to food and beverage ingredients or additives from an animal / plant / alternative source, and/or food processing technologies that have the potential to positively impact the F&B industry.

This category covers innovations related to food and beverage ingredients or additives specifically from a plant-based or alternative non-animal source.

Winners will be announced live during the in-person Fi Europe 2021, co-located with Hi Europe, event in Frankfurt, Germany on 1 December 2021.

2021 Prizes

The winners will be offered one-on-one mentoring from one of our esteemed jury members, as well as a selection from the following prizes: 

A fully equipped stand at Fi Europe 2022

Have a dedicated space to promote your product and connect with key players in the industry at one of Europe’s biggest trade shows for the global F&B industry.

A Fi Global Insights & Ingredients Network Digital Package

This serves to promote your online presence throughout the year.

Prizes provided by our partners

Access to ‘Conciergerie’ by Presans

Conciergerie by Presans enables you to engage on-demand with top level experts for industrial innovation. Our Fellows (ex-R&D Directors/CTOs of large-size companies) identify worldwide experts related to your innovation, science and technology questions. Within a couple of days Presans organizes phone call discussions between selected experts and you. The winner of this prize will get the opportunity to raise a question on the Conciergerie platform and to get in contact with worldwide experts.

Rabobank: FoodBytes!

Either one-on-one or a group mentoring session with a team of specialists from the FoodBytes! program.


One-week residence in the ShakeUpFactory’s foodtech factory at StationF with coaching sessions.

lsbi | life science-based innovations 

A one-day quick scan including a two-page report on regulatory, safety and/or health aspects of the startup's innovation. This price is offered to the winner of each category.

Big Idea Ventures

A one-on-one mentoring with Big Idea Ventures in-house food scientist, who provides valuable advice on food science and technology, including product and process development, scale-up, packaging technology, shelf-life evaluation, and more. 

The Good Food Institute India 

Mentoring to all winning startups with a focus on Alternative Proteins - especially the Indian Market.


One-on-one mentoring from one of our jury members:

All finalists will be invited to pre-record a presentation pitch which will be featured on the online Fi Europe 2021 platform. Additionally, all finalists will be invited to give a live pitch at the in-person Fi Europe 2021 event to visitors and exhibitors of the show at the Innovation Hub.

Meet the Fi Global Startup Innovation Challenge 2021 Advisory Board

Sandra Einerhand
Head of Einerhand Science & Innovation

Shardul Dabir
Innovation Specialist at GFI India

Kevin Camphuis
Founder of ShakeUpFactory

Françoise Bechu
R&D Innovation Leader at General Mills

The Startup Innovation Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for any startup to leverage their networking and fund-raising efforts. We benefitted significantly from our participation in the entire process. Due to the exposure during and after the challenge, we have been approached by many stakeholders in the industry who are willing to work with us.

The Startup Innovation Challenge is led by experts who quickly focus on the most important aspects of bringing innovations to the industry in terms of product taste (which is always 'the king'), product fitness, affordability, proof of concept within an industrial setting, validation from large industrial partners, IP and scalability.

Being part of the Startup Innovation Challenge meant that we had the opportunity to not only present our innovations and plans to many visitors from companies, institutions and the public in general, but also, to investors. This networking was crucial to continue building collaboration opportunities with several players in the field.

For us as a team, winning the challenge has proven to be pivotal in helping us raise our next round of investment funds. Having that validation from a third-party organisation that we are a truly innovative company pushing the boundaries of food science, food technology and food ingredients, has made it easier for us to attract the right investors to help us accelerate the use of these technologies. We’ve successfully raised USD$550,000 since the competition to invest into R&D, product development, sales and marketing which will assist in launching our first range of products and allow us to continue with future innovations.

The first advice I have for startups is to apply, don't miss the chance to experience this great challenge. The feedback from the jury was very personalized and extremely wise. Winning the prize was also extremely helpful not only to be contacted by new investors and potential costumers but also to reactivate some conversations we had in the past.

"Winning the Fi Global Startup Innovation Challenge 2020 has truly opened up new opportunities for Sufresca and generated a lot of traction to our bespoke solution to reduce the high rates of food loss and waste and use of plastic in the food industry. The FI Global team is highly professional and a pleasure to work with, which made the whole experience particularly worthwhile, especially when facing the challenges of a world pandemic.

Startup Innovation Challenge Partners