Trans-Tasman food and beverage giant Lion has launched a startup accelerator to foster entrepreneurship in that industry.
The maker of brands such as XXXX beer, Dairy Farmers and Pura milk announced Thursday it partnered with corporate startup engagement specialist Slingshot to create a 12-week accelerator named Lion Unleashed.
Lion chief executive Stuart Irvine said that although an innovative track record allowed the company to last 177 years, it realises “no one has a monopoly” on great ideas.
“Unleashed is an opportunity for us to collaborate with the best and brightest startups, who at the same time can benefit from Lion’s unique understanding of consumers across alcohol, dairy and juice,” he said.
The companies accepted into Lion Unleashed will receive up to $50,000 from Slingshot’s investment pot in return for equity, plus use of office space, technology and catering worth more than $500,000. The founders will also be advised by startup industry veterans such as Menulog’s Alistair Venn, Your Tea’s Kate Parker and LaFourchette’s Mark Moran.
Slingshot chief Karen Lawson said the food and beverage industry is ripe for disruption as it touches everyone on a daily basis and is “critical” to the economy.
“Lion Unleashed represents the first Slingshot accelerator program actively recruiting across New Zealand, which will ensure we attract the best and brightest in F&B and deliver tangible business outcomes both for Lion and the startups,” she said.
The programme is seeking entrepreneurs with ideas that fit into at least one of five themes: consumer engagement through technology, healthy living, “real-time experiences”, value chain innovation and food & beverage production.
Applications for the first cohort close July 13, but not before Slingshot and Lion put on a roadshow starting this month covering Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland to drum up interest.
Lion, owned by Japanese beverage conglomerate Kirin, employs 6,700 people across Australia and New Zealand at 34 sites that include juice factories, breweries and dairy processing plants.