Turn your innovation into an investment-ready, market-validated business

Do you have a commercial innovation that could help revolutionise our global food system?

You could be eligible to apply for the

Seedbed Incubator

The Seedbed Incubator is a six month programme that aims to transform science and technology based innovations into market-validated businesses

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Receive equity-free grant funding and access to our agrifood network to facilitate market testing with target stakeholders

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Establish if there’s a solid market need for your innovation and evaluate the scale of its commercial potential 

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Discover new opportunities to pivot your business or identify collaborations within our active startup community

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Seedbed programme participants are eligible for EIT Food’s follow-on funding schemes and receive life-time Alumni support

Applications open in January 2023

We host expert panels, networking and matchmaking events throughout the year so join our community to stay informed of all our activities

Establish Proof of Market

Determine the best strategy for your technology and its IP positioning

Business Validation

Develop market testing strategies to validate your key business assumptions

Market Discovery

Test and learn from 100+ potential partners, customers and end-users across Europe

One-to-One Support

Receive mentorship from our world-class business coaches and agrifood experts

Ecosystem Development

Connect with a valuable network of industry partners, media, and investors

Tailored Networking

Receive exclusive invitations to agrifood industry networking & matchmaking events

Why the EIT Food Seedbed Incubator is so essential to developing a startup

Identify new market sectors

“We identified new market sectors for our products and the speed networking with partners was really valuable e.g. The input on the readiness of manufacturers to change their labelling was very helpful”

Seedbed Participant, 2021

Stay ahead in food tech

“We received great insights from all of the teams, mentors, experts, and partners on the various technologies and projects that are making real inroads into sustainability efforts worldwide”

EIT Food Community member

The best place to network

“The best benefit of the programme was the networking! (and in other support programmes) It’s truly wonderful to meet other excited and visionary entrepreneurs”

EIT FAN Participant, 2021

Pivot, pivot and pivot!

“I liked the 1 on 1 coaching and the questions our coach asked. Through this, we dealt with critical issues and learned a lot. We questioned all of the assumptions we had, to rethink our story from different viewpoints. Overall, It really helped us to put things into perspective – I would recommend this programme a lot!”

Seedbed Participant, 2021

The power of market validation

“This programme is a fundamental cornerstone for anyone attempting to build a sustainable business – We found ways to potentially apply our product offering to other stakeholders in the supply chain and Seedbed’s excellent market validation process ensured our startup developed into an attractive proposition for future investments”

Seedbed Participant, 2021

Customer discovery is key

“Having 100+ conversations to test our innovation was truly beneficial. It helped us recognise our assumptions and we identified clients and partners we hadn’t thought of before. A key take-away was learning to include potential partners such as distributors & suppliers in our business modelling”

Seedbed Participant, 2021

What you can expect from the Seedbed Incubator

Following a bootcamp, each year 40 teams are selected to join the cohort and provided with access to EIT Food’s online training platform, to complete the programme over a 6 month period. 

To facilitate active learning, the Seedbed training incorporates a blend of structured sessions led by business specialists, and reinforced by one to one coaching from our startup mentors and agrifood expert advisors. This is further supported by the Seedbed cohort community – a forum where teams can connect with each other to share their learnings and experiences throughout the programme.

The Seedbed training team is a balanced mix of agrifood industry experts, experienced entrepreneurship programme delivery specialists, and thought-leaders from a range of leading academic & research institutions. 

seedbed group 1

Entrepreneurship Training

Online modules include:

  1. Business modelling
  2. Market discovery planning
  3. Entrepreneurial mindset
  4. Brand toolkit and communications
  5. Marketing strategy and channels
  6. Ecosystem building
  7. Networking skills
  8. Pitch training

09. Investment options
10. Legal, Regulatory & IP advice
11. Financials & budgeting
12. Negotiation techniques
13. Team building
14. Business leadership
15. Impact measurement

Agrifood industry workshops

These are designed specifically for the needs of food-tech startups on a range of topics that align with EIT Food’s missions and impact goals.

workshop
workshop group

High-quality tailored one to one support

Assigned Business Manager 

Monthly action planning to keep you on track – accountability is vital!

Regular Meetups with Experts in Residence 

Learn from experienced entrepreneurs in the agrifood sector

Agrifood Industry Specialists

Deep dive into your specific challenge: technical or commercial

Pan-European Network Connectors 

We connect you with the right people to build your startup ecosystem

Seedbed Training
Seedbed Community

Cohort Support

Peer to Peer Coaching

Community Socials & Q&As

cohort community

Networking Events

Seedbed Incubator Kick-off

At the start of the programme we arrange for the cohort to meet with each other and the Seedbed team at a chosen European location (subject to travel restrictions). At this event we also invite EIT Food partners and industry collaborators to inspire the cohort on subjects relating to innovation, tech commercialisation and market discovery. This is a chance for the teams to interact within the EIT Food network and learn how industry and investors like to work with early-stage startups to de-risk new technologies that open up more avenues for food system transformation.

EIT Food Entrepreneurs – Community & Partner events

Throughout the year the Seedbed team will recommend relevant agrifood events for the cohort teams to attend that can facilitate their market testing. Depending on each team’s requirements we also arrange adhoc events to take advantage of EIT Food’s network opportunities. One example might be a panel discussion, where we invite our partners and startups with a mutual interest in one of EIT Food’s focus areas, to discuss their technology, with the aim to collaborate and establish ways to overcome key obstacles the industry is facing.

Seedbed Networking
network

EIT Food Venture Summit

This is a prestigious annual event taking place at a chosen location in Europe where startups, corporates, investors and agrifood experts come together to drive innovation and entrepreneurship. The event is open to EIT Food partners and also to non-partner agrifood leaders from industry, research & academia. Here, the cohort are invited to engage in networking, attend meetings with their key target stakeholders, and present their innovative technological solutions, to demonstrate their value in solving critical food system challenges.

Seedbed Cohort 22

Seedbed Incubator Showcase

Towards the end of the programme, we invite all teams to pitch their business innovation to a carefully selected group of panellists – to put all their entrepreneurial training into practice. They receive valuable feedback and advise from business experts, and it’s a fantastic forum for the cohort to evaluate their progress, to decide how they would like to move forwards. 

Is there a solid market need for their innovation? Or are there more lucrative opportunities to pivot into other markets, or even explore a different venture, with a new team! We get to the route of what is right for each individual participating in the programme.

There are so many options to achieve growth and success. By the end of the programme each team will be clear and confident on what the best route forwards is for them, having completed all the essential startup training, along with the excellent support on offer.

Seedbed Cohort 22
Seedbed Cohort 22

FAQs

What is the Seedbed Incubator eligibility criteria?

Your business innovation must be underpinned by a science or technology with a prototype or lab proof of concept established. It must also fall under one of EIT Food’s key focus areas

You can apply for the Seedbed Incubator as a project team or as a registered company. A project team must consist of at least two individuals with complementary skills and experiences, and at least one member must be a citizen or resident of an EU member state, or Horizon Europe associated countries (NB This still includes the UK!). If you are a solo researcher or an academic currently without any team members, you must still have support from at least one member of your Technology Transfer Office for the duration of the programme (and include these details in your application). If you are applying as a registered company, your company must be established in an EU member state, or Horizon Europe associated countries (NB This still includes the UK!).

Switzerland and UK-based companies ARE eligible to apply. However, eligibility to receive funding will be determined based on Switzerland’s and UK’s eligibility status for EU funding at that time 

What is the programme timeline?

Programme applications are open from the beginning of January to the end of February each year, and all applications are evaluated from March-May. Up to 60 teams considered to have the highest commercial potential are then shortlisted to attend pre-training sessions and an intense 4-day Bootcamp in May. At the end of this Bootcamp, all the teams involved pitch their business innovation to our panel of experts, who select the final 40 to join the new cohort in June. All selected, participating teams are required to attend regular training sessions during its course.

Do I have to be located in the same country as one of the Seedbed Incubator hubs?

No you don’t! The Seedbed Incubator hubs operate in locations that account for five different regions across Europe, and the programme modules are delivered in a hybrid format for everyone to work at their pace. Teams are assigned to the hub that’s the most appropriate for them in terms of their specialism, and we review this on an individual case.

What is the time commitment for startups taking part in this programme?

All selected, participating teams are required to commit at least 10 hours a week during the course of the programme. We expect at least one team member to remain active, and to be engaged with the programme during its full course, from when it starts in June, until the final presentations take place in November.

How are applications assessed?

Applications are assessed based on the understanding of the food system problem, its commercial solution, and your company’s fit with EIT Food’s impact goals and the value of what our network can offer. Equally important is the innovation, its technology readiness, the business model, its USP, and the dynamics of the founding team.

Please refer to our programme Terms & Conditions for more detailed information.  

Who are the evaluators?

All judging panels consist of experienced entrepreneurs and experts from the agriculture and food industries.

Are there any areas within agrifood that you are specifically interested in?

No, any company that is creating an impact at any point along the food supply chain is invited to apply to this programme. Does your business innovation help to make our global food system more sustainable, healthy, and trusted? If the answer if yes, then we want to hear from you!

How much funding does the Seedbed Incubator offer?

The Seedbed Incubator offers funding of up to €6,000, along with the opportunity to access follow-on EIT Food funding and support through EIT Food’s Impact Fund. More information on this fund can be found here

What makes Seedbed unique compared to other incubator programmes?

Seedbed provides direct access to experts who fundamentally understand the commercial potential of science and technology in the agrifood sector. You will be joining Europe’s largest agrifood startup community to receive continuous support from other like-minded entrepreneurs, with endless opportunities to share knowledge and work closely with our world-leading industry partners.

How do you support Seedbed Incubator Alumni?

At the end of the programme, each cohort team is automatically enrolled as Seedbed Alumni and then invited to pursue opportunities for follow-on funding to support their commercial roadmap. This may include spinning out, starting up a new company, or establishing further technology feasibility tests with suitable identified partners. There is also the possibility to progress to the EIT Food Accelerator Network, which connects impactful agrifood startups with industry-leading corporate and research partners, to pilot their technology and drive the ultimate goal of every business: a successful market adoption.

For more detailed information about the Seedbed Incubator, please refer to the programme Terms and Conditions

The programme is delivered by our EIT Food partner organisations, operating from different regions across Europe.

To learn more about the Seedbed Incubator, please contact any one of our hubs:

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