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Soft funding guide for food startups

March 22, 2019

What are the most important funding programmes for food entrepreneurs? What are the programmes looking for? And what are the economic implications of a funded project? Grow wiser with this summary from our seminar on soft funding – i.e. loans and grants.

Soft or hard money, what is what? Hard money – usually – comes from a private investor whose investment gives her an equity share of your company. Soft money comes from a public Danish or EU programme as a grant or a loan and involves fulfilling a variety of requirements. Growing Food CPH just held a seminar on soft funding so we thought we’d share an overview. The below includes links to the described soft funding programmes and to the presentations at the seminar.

General requirements

In general the requirements of soft funding programmes are:

  • Describe your novelty, growth potential, why you/unique value proposition (team, competition etc.) and which challenges your business solves (job creation, sustainability, impact etc.).
  • Ensure that you have a strong team and the right partners, the right technology, a unique and market tested product, a realistic budget – and describe your goal and how to get there.
  • Finally, of course… apply for a programme that has the right strategic fit for your business, including budget size, partners, development stage etc.

Programmes especially interesting for food startups:

Innofounder Graduate is for applicants with a maximum of 24 months since graduation. A 12 month programme funding individuals and including a monthly grant of DKK 15,000, a grant of DKK 35,000 for development, a mentor, a free work space, workshops etc. Next application deadlines is 12 April.

Innofounder Experienced is for applicants with significant work or research experience. A 12 month programme including a monthly grant of DKK 30,000, a grant of DKK 100,000 grant for development, sparring etc. Next application deadline is mid September.

InnoBooster is a broader programme for startups as well as for established businesses. The criteria for businesses younger than three years are: A good team with strong competencies, proof of achievements such as a PhD or other research etc. Grant size is DKK 50,000 to DKK 5 m (33% of total budget). Year round application.

GUDP – Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark’s food and agriculture programme. Focuses on sustainability – economic sustainability (your own, society, jobs etc.) and green sustainability (climate, impact etc.). Is targeted research institutes, manufacturers and food startups.

Future Food Innovation: Three programmes - knowledge, research and co-financing

FFI POP is for developing and testing innovative business ideas. DKK 1 m, 50% co-financing, collaboration with two other SMEs and a knowledge institution. Application each Monday. Project has to be final by 31 October 2019.

FFI DEV is for developing an idea to prototype stage. DKK 1.5 m, 50% co-financing, collaboration with two other SMEs and a knowledge institution. Application each Monday. Project has to be final by 31 October 2020.

FFI Growth is for businesses beyond startup stage.              

Links to the presentations at the Soft Funding Seminar:

Inspirational case: Former Growing Food participant on funding experiences

At the seminar, founder of Nature Preserve, Anantha Peramuna, talked about his funding experience. His startup has received an InnoFounder grant and is presently doing a crowdfunding campaign. Their first application for InnoFounder was rejected due to lack of a plan for turnover next year, not enough competencies etc. They applied again and this time partnered up with a business developer, a chef and a marketing expert. And were successful the second time. Anantha’s advice: “Don’t give up!”. In addition to this, Nature Preserve are doing a crowdfunding campaign through COOP Crowdfunding. Anantha’s advice: “Work on your idea 25%, then place it on the crowdfunding platform and spend the money from that on developing your idea further.” As an additional benefit when using the crowdfunding platform you get data on who is interested in your product – geography, age, gender etc. At the time of writing, Nature Preserve has close to DKK 30,000 in crowdfunding.

More info about Spring Nordic and Growing Food CPH