Häagen-Dazs Start-Up Innovation Challenge

Feb 17, 2023

EIT Food is committed to supporting the growth and development of agrifood innovations that are helping to make the entire food system more sustainable, healthy, and trusted. We believe startups and corporations together play a major role in this transformation process towards a better food system for all. Thus, EIT Food is on a quest to connect disruptive agrifood startups with world leading industry partners such as Häagen-Dazs, a brand of General Mills.

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General Mills is a major player in the agri-food sector for more than 150 years, whose brand portfolio includes more than 100 brands around the world, including Häagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Nature Valley and Fiber One. The company is guided by its Accelerate strategy by boldly building its brands, relentlessly innovating, unleashing its scale and being a force for good. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills generated fiscal 2022 net sales of U.S. $19 billion.

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For 30 years, Häagen-Dazs ice creams have been made near Arras, in the north of France. Today, its manufacturing site produces 75 million liters of ice cream per year, exported to 90 countries around the world. Last year, the group invested in a brand-new Global Research & Development Center. Located close to its production site, the Arras Technical Center (ATC) is the hub of innovation for the Häagen-Dazs brand. It is led by an international team of experts responsible for developing new concepts, technologies and flavors, while continuing to select the best ingredients, guarantee high-quality standards and contribute to the group’s corporate social responsibility objectives.

This unique matchmaking opportunity with Häagen-Dazs is designed to help 10 selected startups fast-track their innovation and pilot their technology to drive innovative technologies towards market adoption.  Within this context, General Mills has committed to partnering with start-ups to explore the latest technologies and ingredients for their iconic ice cream. As an outcome of this Challenge, two of the finalists will be supported by General Mills to develop their POC (Proof of Concept) following the Demo Day, on June 13th.

2023 Key Food Challenges

For 2023, EIT Food has teamed-up with General Mills to identify five key challenge areas for the Häagen-Dazs brand, covering product, packaging and environmental impact:

1. Indulgent sugar reduced Ice cream

Häagen-Dazs seeks to reduce the total sugar level of ice cream while improving product indulgence, improving consumer preference and product stability over shelf life, be at cost parity, with clean label ingredients and no impact on Ice cream processability. Solution(s) could include ingredients and processing and should be ready for short term industrialization in at least one of Häagen-Dazs’ key markets.

2. Ice cream resilient towards temperature fluctuations

Technologies which would make ice cream more resilient towards temperature fluctuations in terms of textural and physical stability, keeping the outstanding Häagen-Dazs consumer experience, especially as it reaches Asian consumers or responds to new consumer habits. The solution should be available for implementation in 2025. Potential solutions could include ingredients, processing, distribution, storage and could as well lower the environmental impact of ice cream.

3. Ice cream with the lowest Carbon Footprint

Häagen-Dazs is looking for an ice cream with the lowest carbon footprint in the world: the solution can cover all elements of Ice cream value chain (sourcing, ingredients, processing, distribution, storage). ​

It should deliver the same/better consumer preference as our current products with price parity or improvement and should be implementable by 2028 in at least one of General Mills Häagen-Dazs key markets. ​

4. Create the Ice cream packaging of the future with low environmental impact

We are looking for the next generation of ice cream packaging that provides excellent resistance to temperature variation, extending the melting time compared to our current packaging. This packaging should have low environmental impact and be compatible with the existing recycling streams. The consumer experience of buying, transporting, storing, consuming, and discarding the packaging components should be considered. Solution(s) can be at development phase.

5. Refrigerated dipping cabinet for Häagen-Dazs shops with improved energy efficiency ​

General Mills wants to equip our Häagen-Dazs shops (franchised and company owned) with dipping cabinets of different sizes (8, 16, 20, 24 bulks), more efficient in their energy use. Ideally, the cabinets should be autonomous in their energy need. This equipment should demonstrate a practical design for user, integrate the hygienic cleaning standards and preserve our unique ice cream quality, at a competitive price. Yet, they should be attractive to consumers. This solution should be deployable globally within 2 years.

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Refrigerated DIpping Cabinet

What’s in it for the startups selected?

  • Receive feedback, advice and input on your product, service or technology from Häagen-Dazs -General Mills experts.
  • Each selected start-up will receive an internal sponsor who will help them craft their pitch and develop a prototype to showcase live during a Demo Day.
  • In-person component:
    • Participate in an in-person Demo Day at the new Arras Technical Center, providing a direct link to decision-makers within General Mills.
    • Guided Visit of the Technical Center
  • The chance to be selected for one of two POCs developments following the Demo Day.
  • Following the Demo Day, you will have an option to participate in VivaTech Paris from June 14-17.
  • Please note that every step in the process will be co-built by Häagen-Dazs-General Mills and the startup; there is no obligation to proceed unless both parties wish to do so.

Who should join this challenge?

We are looking for impactful startups and scaleups that adhere to the following criteria:

  • Your company is registered in the EU member states and associated countries (+UK/Swiss/Israel).
  • You have less than 49 employees (excluding interns or contractors).
  • You are working on a solution in one of the challenge domains detailed above.
  • You have successfully completed a proof of concept backed by data and have a product available for testing and protected by IP.
  • You are open to collaborate with industry and looking to scale your technology.
  • You are available to pitch in person on June 12-13, 2023.

How to apply:

Submit your matchmaking profile before March 30th, 2023. Click here to start working on your profile and provide a thoughtful explanation as to how you envision a pilot project with Häagen-Dazs. The answers will be screened first by EIT Food, and the most promising applicants will be shared with General Mills, thus the more specific your explanations, the more likely they will want to engage with you.

Key dates:

  • February 17th:  Registration open for EIT Food Startup-Corporate Matchmaking.
  • March 30th: Submission deadline for matchmaking profile at 23:59 CET.
  • Starting April 24th: EIT Food will contact the 10 startups selected for the General Mills Häagen-Dazs Demo Day
  • May 17th: Preparatory call
  • June 12-13th: In-person Demo Day at the Arras Technical Center, France
  • June 23rd: Deep-dive Discussions with finalists
  • July 10th: 2 POC Winners decision

Apply here!


Application deadline extended ONLY for Seedbed until April 10 23:59 CET

Launch - Seedbed Incubator

Accelerate - EIT Food Accelerator Network

Scale - RisingFoodStars

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