Bord Bia seeks Irish F&B start-ups for accelerator programme

Food Works, the collaborative tri-agency initiative run by Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc, is looking for ten high potential, innovative and export driven food and drink start-ups to join their next accelerator programme.

Fiid, The Lismore Food Company and Nobó (pictured), some of Ireland’s rising stars, are among over 100 companies that have already completed the programme since it began in 2012.

Participating start-ups will be supported to get investor ready with a comprehensive business plan focussed on them scaling internationally. Participants will also be eligible to apply for feasibility grant funding of up to €35,000 through Enterprise Ireland.

The unique food and drink entrepreneurship programme runs annually over 10 months from March to December. It includes workshops with national and international industry experts across various disciplines such as strategy, finance, product development, marketing and other areas.

Start-ups also receive customised support from business advisors, facilitated peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities across the industry - at home and abroad.

Tara McCarthy, CEO Bord Bia describes the ideal candidates for the next programme as being ambitious and innovative, with the ability to scale and the potential to export.

She said, “Food Works has been feeding ambition and innovation among Ireland’s food and drink entrepreneurs for almost 10 years, with proven success in supporting Irish start-ups to succeed.

'The programme aims to support and assist rising stars to achieve their ambitions in domestic and international markets, all the time working toward enhancing the global positioning of Ireland’s food and drink sector.

“Irish food products are enjoying a growing reputation internationally coupled with strong demand. Last year, despite significant disruption to normal market operation, Irish food, drink, and horticulture exports were valued at over €13bn.'

Brian & Rachel Nolan, founders of Nobó, the popular dairy free ice-cream and chocolate brand,credit the programme with their early acceleration and direction.

Brian Nolan said, “Food Works has been a vital part of our success, helping to set us up for growth. Our unique dairy free ice cream was a new concept, and the support and expertise we received from Food Works was a key factor in helping us take it from local farmers markets to supermarket shelves at home and abroad.

'Our ice cream and chocolate are now available in over 750 stores, across Ireland, Netherlands, and Canada, where we will also launch into Wholefoods this September.'

The three state agencies, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc, work jointly to deliver the Food Works programme. Bord Bia provides strategic insight and support, assisting participating companies’ in their understanding of consumers, competitors, trends, opportunities and both domestic and international markets.

Enterprise Ireland is responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in global markets. Its Food Division focuses on supporting high potential food and drink companies on developing their export sales.

Meanwhile, Teagasc provides integrated research, technical advice, and training services. Its state-of-the-art food centres in Dublin and Cork provide participants with access to facilities, equipment, and specialist expertise.

The closing date for applications for the 2022 programme is 3 December 2021.