CHICAGO, May 8, 2023 – Non-profit global innovation hub 1871 announces applications are open for their first Foodtech Innovation Lab taking place July 2023. This year’s lab is supported by our General Partner World Business Chicago, with focuses in Agtech, Food Innovations, and Manufacturing & Packaging. Applications are now open until 6.16.23!

The Foodtech Innovation Lab is designed to bring growth-stage startups, late-stage businesses, corporates, investors, and industry experts together to collaborate on the biggest challenges within foodtech. This lab is part of 1871’s suite of 6 Innovation Labs happening this year and the second to launch this summer, the other – Supply Chain Innovation Lab

The dedicated Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR) is Nate Cooper, Founder and Managing Partner of Barrel Ventures, an early-stage startup fund investing in the future of food, working with some of the brightest entrepreneurs (Olipop, Jumbotail, Grabango, Helaina, Great Wrap & others).

The Lab runs from 7.17.23 – 10.5.23 and is open to the following innovators: 

  • Growth-stage startups with a technology or product focused on the foodtech space 
  •  Late-stage partners seeking to elevate their brand as experts and influence the foodtech industry.
  • Corporations sitting at the forefront of foodtech innovation or seeking to enhance their capabilities or offerings via partnerships

There will be a selection process for startups to ensure those admitted to the program have proven readiness and are fit for the lab. 

Information sessions on the lab will take place on 05.23.23 and 06.08.23, to provide attendees with information on the program structure, how to participate in the lab, and the benefits of joining. 

“Foodtech is not just about disrupting the food industry, it’s about redefining our relationship with food through technology. As one of the most fundamental human needs, food deserves our attention and innovation. The intersection of food and tech is where we can create a more sustainable and equitable future for all,” said 1871 CEO, Betsy Ziegler. “By leveraging key players’ expertise and resources in AGtech, food innovations, and supply chains to address the challenges facing the food industry, we can collaborate to create innovative and productive solutions that not only speed up its distribution, but also improve the health, sustainability, and accessibility of our food system across the globe.”

About Foodtech Innovation Lab

This lab focuses on several areas for cohort members to explore, identify, and collaborate to solve key issues within the industry. Startups serving domains across the foodtech focus will be considered for the cohort. 

Focus areas include:

  • Agtech – Biotechnology, Farm Management Software, Farm Robotics, Mechanization, & Equipment, and Novel Farming Systems
  • Food Innovations – Novel Ingredients, Upcycling, and Nutraceuticals
  • Manufacturing & Packaging – Midstream Technologies and Packaging


The lab experience explained

This lab is designed to connect startups, late-stage businesses, corporates, VCs, and Foodtech experts together in 4 immersive weeks of programming, alternating in virtual and in-person experiences. 

The cohorts will meet for one full week of programming and workshops in July, August, September, and October 2023.

The program ends with its Foodtech Innovation Summit, taking place in October 2023.

For inquiries about involvement in partnering with us or learning more about sponsor options for either our Foodtech Innovation Lab or Foodtech Innovation Summit, connect with our team at [email protected]

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About 1871

1871 is Chicago’s innovation hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support early stage, late stage, growth stage, and corporate innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~400 technology startups, ~200 growth stage companies, and ~1,500 members, and is supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. The member experience includes virtual and in-person access to workshops, events, mentorship, and more. The nonprofit organization has 350 mentors available to its members, alongside access to more than 200 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 850 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 14,500 jobs, and have raised more than $3.5 billion in follow-on capital.

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