Startup Innovation Challenge

The most exciting innovations are coming from small startups who are largely unknown to the wider industry.

Now in its fourth year, the Fi Global Startup Innovation Challenge 2019 will give startups the opportunity to pitch their idea to the whole host of F&B industry players that make up Fi Europe’s 1,700+ exhibitors and 30,000+ attendees. 
Check here for the list of Startup Innovation Challenge Winners 2016 - 2018.



Special Prize – EIT Food Prize


In addition to the category winners, one shortlisted startup will be selected by EIT for a special €10,000 EIT Food Prize.*

EIT Food is Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, working to make the food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted. It is a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.

*Startups need to be a resident, citizen or legal entity (i.e. registered business) based in an EU member state or an associate country. They also need to meet the criteria of EIT Food whose decision is final.

Join the Startup Innovation Challenge 2019

How to apply

The following needs to be submitted with your applications form:

  • A signed copy of the Rules and Regulations 2019 form. download here
  • A short description of the product or service is required that highlights the novelty element of this product or service. (max. 300 words)


Entry criteria

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

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.

Dr Abhiram Dukkipati
Founder of Magellan Life Sciences and winner of the 2018 Startup Innovation Challenge in the Most Innovative Healthy Food or Beverage Ingredient category


Nine out of ten startups fail. At Fi Europe we support entrepreneurship and are committed to support innovators by offering them a platform to exchange. You can listen to our webinar “Spotting traps on the road to success, tips to F&B startups” and learn from our panel of experts how to best develop your startup project!”

The shortlisted startups will pitch live on Tuesday 3 December 2019 to the Fi Europe audience at the Industry Insights Theatre (between 15.15 and 17.30).

Additionally, they will:

  • Attend a one-day meetup with the experts and jury on Monday 2 December 2019,
  • Meet and network with visitors to Fi Europe during the 3 days of the event,
  • Have access to the Startup Lounge at the Industry Insights Theatre,
  • Be listed in the Fi Europe show catalogue and on Ingredients Network, FI Global’s online product directory.

The winners will be announced on Tuesday 3 December 2019 at the end of the pitch sessions!

View advisory board members


2019 Categories

Startups can select multiple categories but will only compete in one category, which will be selected by the shortlisting jury.

In addition to the category winners, one shortlisted startup will be selected by EIT for a special €10,000 EIT Food Prize.

If you have any questions please contact Maxence Salendre, Content Producer at Fi Global, [email protected]

Most Innovative Food or Beverage Ingredient

This category covers ingredients or additives that improve taste, texture, appearance and/or nutritional value. E.g. flavours, flavour enhancers, colours, sweeteners, emulsifiers, stabilisers, (thickeners, binders texturisers), acidulants, firming agents, anti-caking agents, leavening agents, humectants, dough strengtheners, fat substitutions, yeast nutrients, PH control agents, enzyme preparations, functional lipids, dietary fibre, probiotics etc.

Most Innovative Plant- or Cereal-based Food or Beverage Ingredient

This category specifically covers ingredients or additives from plant or cereal sources.

Most Innovative Alternative Food or Beverage Ingredient

This category specifically covers ingredients or additives from a novel non-animal/plant/cereal source. E.g. fungi, algae, insects, micro-organisms, lab grown/cell-cultured or another non-animal/plant/cereal food source.

Most Innovative Process, Technology or Service Supporting F&B

This category covers innovations that improve food safety, efficacy, quality, traceability, transparency, ingredient sourcing or upcycling.

2019 Prizes

Startups can select multiple categories but will only compete in one category, which will be selected by the shortlisting jury.
In addition to the category winners, one shortlisted startup will be selected by EIT for a special €10,000 EIT Food Prize.

All winners will receive one-to-one mentoring from one of the Advisory Board members of the Startup Innovation Challenge. The winners can select which Advisory Board member is most relevant to them.

In addition, each winner can select one of the following prizes:


A fully equipped exhibition booth (9 or 12m2) at Fi Europe 2020
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 digital marketing package in conjunction with ingredients Network
This includes a profile on the ingredients Network directory, the leading product and supplier search engine in the food ingredients industry, plus unique articles and interviews on your company to be shared via the ingredients Network Newsletter. Reach over 150,000 people and generate quality leads for your business.

presans concierge

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.

general mills logo

Coaching and R&D consultation from General Mills
A 6 month-session of mentoring/coaching from General Mills and 2 days of free R&D consultation supported by General Mills R&D resources globally.


Deep-dive session with Wageningen University & Research
Receive a tailored session with relevant researchers from Wageningen University & Research, the No.1 food & agri university worldwide. Get advice on your technology/product from a leading industry expert in the relevant field. Receive feedback on your proposition in order to make it ready for the market.

Proteines France

Networking opportunity during Proteines 3D.
Proteines France will offer selected startups the opportunity to join Proteines 3D, a unique opportunity to meet with more than 15 French innovative proteins industry leaders.

foodinnov group logo

One-day coaching and advisory session from FOODINNOV GROUP

FOODINNOV GROUP will offer selected startups a one-day coaching and advisory session in development strategy, product R&D, process and packaging, industrial product transfers, product exportability, registration with the US FDA and all other nutritional aspects (product conception, regulatory advice DADFMS, Novel Food for Europe and GRAS for the USA)


Pilot opportunities for startups

Givaudan will offer strategic partnerships including access to knowledge, personnel, equipment and advice on access to market. Details to be discussed with the selected startups.

Startup Innovation Challenge Partners