Middlebit: Nebullam one of six finalists for inaugural IFT Next Food Disruption Challenge

The inaugaral IFT Next Food Disruption Challenge took place on Tuesday, July 17. Photo provided by the Institute of Food Technologists

Nebullam was one of six companies to participate in the inaugural IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge at IFT18. The six finalists pitched their companies in hopes of winning a $25,000 grand prize.

Nebullam is an Ames-based agtech startup that pairs high-pressure aeroponic technology and software to grow different types of leafy greens indoors.

“To be a finalist for the inaugural IFT Next Food Disruption Challenge was a great opportunity,” said Clayton Mooney, co-founder and CEO of Nebullam. “They provided us with 6 weeks of mentoring, a travel award, and this experience was much more about collaboration than competition, which was refreshing. Anytime you have the opportunity to pitch in front of thousands of people, take it. You never know who will be sitting in the audience.”

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Clayton Mooney, CEO and co-founder of Nebullam pitches at IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge. Photo provided by the Institute of Food Technologists

The six participants in the pitch event were chosen in a process that spanned several months, featured two elimination rounds and initially drew 65 applicants from around the globe. The six finalists participated in a six-week mentoring program in which each was matched with a mentor and received the benefit of insights shared by several subject matter experts on topics ranging from fund-raising to food processing.

Daymond John, a panelist on the popular television show “Shark Tank,” served as the emcee of the event.

The Future Food Disruptor of the Year winner was chosen by a panel of six judges. The pitch competition judges included Jennifer Bentz, senior vice president of research and development, innovation and insights for Tyson Foods; Jeff Grogg, founder and managing director of JPG Resources; J. Skyler Fernandes, co-founder and managing director of Venture University; John Ruff, IFT past president and former senior vice president of Kraft Foods; Nicole Schumacher, chief marketing officer, PRE Brands; and Natalie Shmulik, chief executive officer of The Hatchery.

Renewal Mill received a $25,000 cash prize and the Future Food Disruptor of the Year award. The company seeks to reduce food waste by transforming such byproducts as pistachio shells, potato peels and olive pits into nutritious, functional ingredients.

What else happened…?

Illinois 

Conventional cars drive the bulk of Chicago-based SpotHero‘s business, but the parking inventory and booking startup is setting its sights on a driverless future. Today, it announced that more than 500 of its connected parking garages in Chicago have been adapted to accommodate autonomous cars, trucks, and SUVs.  –VentureBeat

Indiana

High Alpha, a self-described “venture studio” based in Indianapolis, today announced it has raised more than $100 million to fund new enterprise software startups in Indianapolis and the Midwest. The $100 million includes $16.65 million for High Alpha’s second iteration of its startup studio and $85 million for the second fund from High Alpha Capital, its traditional venture fund.  –VentureBeat

Missouri

Digital Sandbox KC announced the addition of four companies to its portfolio. As of a February 2018 impact survey, Digital Sandbox KC has given $1.9 million in project funding to 100 early-stage startups.  –Silicon Prairie News