It is not new that big brands and gigantic food corporations are losing market share to startups and small food companies. With shifting customer preferences towards healthier products and new discoveries on the impact of food on human health, many big corporations are lacking velocity and flexibility to bring new solutions to their customers. Aiming to get insights and find new ways to revert this trend, more and more corporations are starting to explore partnerships with smaller, more agile companies, which are much closer to client’s needs and can quickly adapt to new scenarios. In addition, there are tons of reasonable reasons to tap into the startup world: find new investment opportunities, explore emerging technologies, get inspiration for internal development, and so on.
New open innovation platforms such as corporate accelerators are focused on enabling innovation and helping both corporations and emerging growth companies to collaborate.This is successful when there is a structure ensuring a safe and productive collaboration space, especially for startups. Through TERRA Food and Ag Tech Accelerator, a pilot-driven accelerator, we have seen that it is not an easy task to bring both worlds together - and, many times it requires a corporate’s internal innovation supporting structure, such as an R&D team, strategy alignment, and an internalized open innovation culture. From the startup side, it often demands a lot of patience, focus, and time-investment to connect with the right business units, tailor the solution, and develop the pilot projects. It sounds challenging – and it is! However, when there is a strong alignment, a result-driven focus, and bandwidth from both sides, we have observed that the impact can be monumental, especially for less digitalized industries such as food and agriculture.
Success Stories of Corporate + Startup Collaboration
An example from TERRA Food and Ag Tech Accelerator is the collaboration between Ripe.io and AgroFresh. Ripe.io is a San Franciscan startup that developed a technology to identify and track the quality of fruits and vegetables from the field to the processing units. AgroFresh is a global leader in food preservation and waste reduction, with over 800 patents and presence in 70+ countries.
Raja Ramachandran, founder and CEO of Ripe.io, mentioned that the partnership provided initial business validation and strategic information. “Working with AgroFresh gave us deep insight into the fresh produce marketplace. Not only were they our first customer but helped us on the path to growth," he affirmed. AgroFresh was able to test and deploy their technology, with a potential to impact the entire food supply system. Dan MacLean, Global R&D leader at AgroFresh, stated, “Ripe.io’s technology enabled us to see tangible results and developed an appreciation for how blockchain can enable a more responsive food traceability system and empower other quality driven insights to supply chain stakeholders."
ReGrained and Griffith Foods exemplify the success that can come from corporate-startup collaboration. ReGrained developed a technology to upcycle brewed malt into a value added ingredient, and was recently invested by their corporate partner, Griffith Foods, who led a US $2.5MM strategic financing.
"We’re not following the typical CPG playbook and felt strongly about bringing in the kind of capital that could actively help us create and serve this new market. Our purpose is to better align the food we eat with the planet we love. We could not ask for a more mission-aligned partner that directly supports our strategic goals than Griffith Foods, who share our authentic commitment to making the world a better place through food. Our strategic partnership will dramatically accelerate our ability to succeed in our mission," revealed Dan Kurzrock, Co-founder and CEO of ReGrained. Brian Griffith, executive chairman of Griffith Foods, added “The strategic partnership between Griffith Foods and Regrained offers an opportunity to work together and find new ways to nourish the world... The world's population is estimated to reach almost ten billion by 2050. It is imperative for food companies to create innovative solutions that safely and sustainably feed our growing communities."
Join Food-Tech Change Makers
Are you a Food or Agriculture company striving to innovate and make an impact in your business and the world? In a world where changing global demands are outpacing what our current food and agricultural systems can achieve, TERRA exists to advance the well-being of our people and planet by fueling groundbreaking transformation in these two industries. Contact us today to learn more.