How will Ukraine, which has been historically known as the “breadbasket of Europe” because of its major production of agricultural products, including especially wheat, seize the opportunities of the revolution occurring today in advanced countries in the field of food technologies?
As new startups and innovators are disrupting how food is produced, distributed, sold and consumed, AgriTech has become an increasing part of the startup scene in Ukraine, as reported several times by Ukraine Digital News. FoodTech, however, has been barely noticeable. The Lviv Business School (LvBS) of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in its Center for Entrepreneurship hopes to change this with its food technology business accelerator program.
Mykhailo Dumanskyi, the Executive Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship, points out that the accelerator program was launched a year ago.
It is intended to be a platform that links key corporate partners, business mentors and students and startup teams. There are three sectors of focus: EdTech, FoodTech and AdTech (Digital Marketing). “FoodTech was chosen because one of the major supporters of UCU is the company !FEST.” Based in Lviv, !FEST has a chain of creative restaurants and projects with a major emphasis on food.
To be considered for the UCU accelerator, a company’s product or services must be from one of these areas: logistics and delivery; automation and robotics; biological development; mobile and AR technologies; and, improving customer experience. Startup teams must have three or more people.
It is estimated that the value of the program for each participant is US$20,000. In return for free participation, a startup must give the Center for Entrepreneurship a 5% equity stake in its company. The program offers 500+ hours of work, theory and practice along with personal mentoring from 20+ business experts.
The program starts on September 29 and runs for 14 weeks. A demo-day will be held at the end of December, which will include potential investors and the possible participation of a New York City food business accelerator, FOOD-X. One or two startups could be selected by FOOD-X to participate in their accelerator, which offers $50,000 in funding for an equity share in the company, free participation in the program and access to interested investors. UCU is planning to hold its FoodTech accelerator twice a year in the spring and the fall.
The accelerator has the capacity for a total of 10-12 startups. To date, 3 startup teams have been selected to participate:
- Dots, a cloud platform for the ordering and delivery of food;
- Rotata Pizza, uses digital marketing and other technology to promote and manage a mobile pizza business;
- BookUpBot, a chatbot service for restaurateurs to facilitate the quick booking of their tables.
The application deadline for the accelerator is September 17. An online application form is available here.