The Food Startup Incubator Weihenstephan (FSIWS) supports founders and startups in the food sector, who want to contribute in building a sustainable world.
The FSIWS supports startups and founding teams with innovative and sustainable food ideas through four main aspects:
• Providing the infrastructure for the food production in laboratory and pilot scale as well as co-working spaces
• Teaching and training in the field of food technology, entrepreneurship, business administration and finance
• Providing financing instruments for the startup, growth and scaling phase
• Network to fellow startups, food technology and entrepreneurship experts, business angels, investors, retailers
There are three ways to join the FSIWS and get access to the above mentioned support:
• Students of the HSWT can use all facilities free of charge.
• Food Startups have the possibility to get access to the diverse pilot plants and production areas via a user agreement.
• External founding teams or single founders can apply for the certificate program “Founding a Food Startup”. The certificate program consist of two semesters. Within those two semesters, the founders learn how to develop a food product and how to build a business in the food sector. This is done via workshops and individual coaching appointments. The aim of this certificate program is either, the founding of a food company or applying for an Exist founding scholarship provided by the german government.
The Food Incubator is led by the public University of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan-Triesdorf HSWT.
The FSIWS is composed of 4 partners, providing following resources:
HSWT: production & laboratory facilities, experts in food technology
IU: E-learning, legal requirements
SCE: innovations, entrepreneurial thinking & acting
StartinFOOD: marketing, sales strategies, building business, finances
Evidence of success
• Constantly growing numbers of Food Startups in the Incubator (16 Startups right now)
• 12 certificate participants
• The FSIWS has 50% female founders, which is highly successful, since the average is only 16% in Germany
• The e-learning platform Moodle has over 800 registrations
• Within 2 years the FSIWS launched three different initiatives: The hospitality initiative (80 participants), Farmers initiative (240 participants), How to become a female founder (40 participants)
Networking is an important aspect for Startups, especially among them. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, building a strong network is challenging. However, the FSIWS compromised this with monthly online meet-ups, online conferences (Food Startup Campus 2020 & 2021), group chats and 1 to 1 coaching.
Potential for learning or transfer
In the past years, three major trends have taken place, which are shaping the food industry: digitalization, personalized nutrition and sustainability. These trends offer a completely new variety for food innovations and therefore new startups.
The goal of the FSIWS is on the one side promoting and supporting sustainable food products. This was especially shown in the “Farmer’s initiative”, where the FSIWS supported farmers to produce their own products from their own raw materials. On the other side, the FSIWS has a second goal, which is fostering entrepreneurship especially among students and women. For implementing this, the FSIWS starts initiatives such as the “How to become a female founder” initiative and gives scholarships especially to mothers in the certificate program. However, the general approach of the FSIWS to foster both, entrepreneurship and sustainability, is to provide low entry hurdles as well as low financial risks for startups and founding teams.
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