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{Shaping the meals of tomorrow}

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{ Our mission }

In support of the Mars Food purpose – Better Food Today. A Better World Tomorrow – the SEEDS of CHANGE™ accelerator is looking for start-up food brands, innovative experiential offerings, new business models and emerging technology companies that share our values. The program is designed to support the next-generation of food businesses transforming the way we eat.

{ What we are looking for }

We want to work with next-generation businesses that are making a mark on the future of food in one or more of the following ways…

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Sharing World Flavours

Bringing flavours, ingredients and food experiences from around the world to everyday consumers.

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Easy-Meal Solutions

Embracing new formats, packaging and delivery methods that make buying, preparing and enjoying better food more convenient.

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Responsible Food

Tackling the ethical, social and sustainability issues that influence how we make, distribute and consume food now and in the future.

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Creating with Care

Feeding consumers’ appetite for artisanal products made with passion, purpose and craftsmanship.

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Better for You

Helping consumers improve their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing with the food choices they make.

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Accessing Asia

Leverage our proximity to Asia to deliver innovative and differentiated offerings that meet consumer needs and capture an increased share of these growing markets.

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Food Manufacturing & Value Chain Transformation

Deliver transformative and novel technologies to improve processes, unlock greater value, reduce food waste, or enhance traceability and provenance.

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Plant-Based Eating

Making plant-based eating more accessible and enabling consumers to address concerns regarding health, sustainability and animal welfare.

{ The program }

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Grants to Grow

$40,000 grant: $20,000 no-strings attached and variable grants up to $20,000 towards your tailored business growth plan.

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Bespoke Program

Customised four-month program combining a world-class curriculum with multiple hands-on mentoring opportunities to guide entrepreneurial food start-ups through their deepest individual challenges.

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Learn from the best in the industry

Program content and mentoring delivered by industry leaders from Mars and its external network of successful entrepreneurs, exporters, investors, and subject-experts.

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Access facilities to bring your ideas to life

Access workspaces and specialised facilities across local Mars Food sites and our partner network to provide opportunities for collaboration and the space to further develop your ideas.

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Selection

Our chosen finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their companies and meet with our leaders, mentors and partners. Six Australia start-ups will then be chosen to enter the Accelerator program.

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Acceleration

This is the heart of the program. We will work with you to identify your needs and then build a bespoke four-month program for growth, including hands-on mentorship and funded support in marketing, operations and R&D development. Whatever you need, this is where you’ll get it.

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Graduation

A chance for the six start-ups to share your experience, compare notes, celebrate your growth journey, and unlock opportunities and pilot partnerships with Mars Food and others.

{ News & updates }

 

Keep up-to-date with everything happening across the accelerator program.

 

View the successful grant recipients here >

Watch the launch video here

{ Our team }

Advisors

General Manager, Mars Food Australia

Hamish Thomson

Hamish is a seasoned CEO and General Manager covering multiple industries, markets and consumer segments. A native New Zealander who started his career in the London advertising scene, Hamish then moved to sports fashion where he held senior marketing and sales roles in Reebok UK and Reebok Europe. With over 18 years of experience in Mars Incorporated (Australia, UK and North America) Hamish has a track record of consistent results delivery, outstanding talent development and an insatiable curiosity for new ways of working and external perspectives.

Director, Research & Development, Mars Food Australia

Peter Crane

Peter has a proven background in R&D with 20+ years of experience across multiple countries covering everything from innovation and new product development through to quality and food safety. Peter’s has spent the last six years as a member of Mars Food Australia’s management team and has a track record developing talent and creating highly engaged and effective teams that make critical contributions to business performance.

Entrepreneur In Residence and Lecturer, CEO

Cameron Turner

Cameron has a Bachelor of Applied Science and has had multiple careers in the food and agriculture industry including basic and applied research, industry and economic development, international business development, commercialisation, entrepreneurship and university lecturing.  He has founded four high tech start-ups to commercialise world first food and ag innovations and is now entrepreneur in residence at the University of Queensland Business School helping entrepreneurs, scientists and companies convert their ideas into successful products and businesses.

AgFunder Founding Partner

Michael Dean

As founding partner of AgFunder and an entrepreneur and venture investor in early stage food and agriculture technology innovation, Michael is a recognised authority on food and agriculture technology and investing. He sits on the executive board of the Australian SproutX Agtech Accelerator and is a member of the advisory board of the Netherlands based RockStart AgriFood Technology Accelerator. He is an experienced startup mentor and has been interviewed on agrifood technology and investment by numerous leading media outlets including Bloomberg, The Economist, The Australian Financial Review, DealStreetAsia, Asian Investor, Agri Investor and ABC Australia Landline. As a lawyer, Michael advised many of Australia’s largest investment and operating corporations on their multi-sector acquisition and development activities.

Co-Founder at Farmers2Founders, CEO of Food Futures Company

Dr Christine Pitt

Dr Christine Pitt is a globally recognised thought leader, investor and successful entrepreneur in the ag+food tech ecosystem. For the past 20 years she has worked extensively across the agrifood value chain in Australian and Asia and most recently was the CEO of a +$200M ag+food tech investment portfolio. As founder of the Food Futures Company, Christine works with researchers, corporates, startups and investors to accelerate the development of cutting edge agrifood technologies, products and business models.

Deputy Director of Food & Agriculture at CSIRO

Martin Cole

Martin is an internationally recognised food scientist and accomplished science leader with over 20 years’ experience in research management across government, academia and industry. He has held a number of senior leadership positions within FMCG companies and has a long track record of developing lasting business partnerships leading to significant commercial outcomes. Martin has led the development of the National Food and Nutrition Strategy and Roadmap in Australia and has frequently been called upon as an expert by organisations such the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UN Food Security Committee. 

Associate General Counsel and Director, Mars Australia and New Zealand

Cate Walsh

Cate is a senior strategic corporate lawyer with over 20 years’ experience in the FMCG industry including Lion Nathan, Mondelez and now Mars. Her core capability includes detailed knowledge of risk management, company secretariat, competition law, food law, litigation, supply chain and procurement. She is a pragmatic and versatile lawyer with a strong focus on practical legal partnering with both internal and external stakeholders.

Mentors

Director/Founder, Food Innovation Partners Pty Ltd

Russell Rankin

Russel has more than thirty years’ experience in the food and beverage industry in various senior commercial and research positions. He has an inherent ability to connect companies, research organisations, financial institutions and Government and understands how to manage the innovation process and the steps required to commercialise innovative ideas

GrowLab Program Manager at Cicada GrowLab

George Peppou

George Peppou is founder and program manager of GrowLab, Australia’s premier agrifood tech accelerator. Through GrowLab, George has supported 11 agrifood startups since September 2017, including Flurosat, Invertigro and Livestock Labs. George is a serial entrepreneur and inventor, with over 30 patents granted. With a background in biochemistry and after nearly a decade working in innovation and deep tech, George is a firm believer that Australia could lead the world in the field of synthetic biology. 

Managing Director at Rocket Seeder Limited

Emma Coath

Emma has a passion for building a sustainable food and agriculture sector through supporting innovative entrepreneurs. She has worked in food and agriculture for the past 20+ years, in both public and private sector organisations, with a focus on export markets. Emma has completed a Bachelor of Commerce (Deakin University) and a Master of eBusiness (RMIT University), and is currently completing a PhD in Food Supply Chain Management at Monash University.

Agriculture and Food Commercialisation Lead at CSIRO

Duncan Ferguson

Duncan is currently the commercialisation lead for Agriculture and Food at CSIRO, with primary responsibility for leading new venture deals. He brings more than 15 years of experience working with industry and commercially focused research collaboration, investment, IP management, commercialisation and start-ups. Duncan is chair of Queensland-based start-up Bioherbicides Australia Pty Ltd, President of LESANZ Inc (an international community of innovation and commercialisation professionals), and Chair of the LESI Industry, University and Government Transactions committee.

Director of the Diploma in Innovation and Senior Lecturer, UTS Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation

Dr Martin Bliemel

Dr Martin Bliemel is an award-winning academic and Director of the Diploma in Innovation at the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation, University of Technology Sydney. His research is on accelerators, entrepreneurial networks, education, research commercialisation and entrepreneurial ecosystems, and his work has shaped the $23m federal Incubator Support Program. Before moving to Sydney in 2009, Martin worked helping start-ups raise venture capital and was a key member of the Angel Forum, one of Canada’s largest and oldest angel networks.

Marketing Director, Mars Food Australia

Bronwyn Powell

Bronwyn is a senior marketing, digital transformation and innovation specialist with 30 years’ experience working across the globe. Bronwyn is a marketer who has touched many global iconic brands – from fast-moving consumer goods, retail and quick service restaurants to the entertainment sector – to transform and position them for growth. At the core of her success has been developing business changing strategies, innovative new concepts and products, and communications that have been recognised in the industry as leading the way for new, brave and disruptive campaigns.

Sales Director, Mars Food Australia

Matt Shortal

Matt graduated from University with a degree in business management, mastering in HR and Marketing. Now his 15th year within fast-moving consumer goods, Matt spent most of his career in customer-facing roles with experience in all major Australian grocers and Foodservice operators. Matt is currently the Sales Director at Mars Food Australia.

Chief Financial Officer, Mars Food Australia

Andrew Poll

Andrew is a curious and strategic thinker with a growth mindset that is embedded in creating value. He has strong consumer and customer-centric thinking. Andrew has a lot to offer the program with broad exposure to all facets of finance-related functions, strategic planning, management accounting, demand planning, financial accounting, business process redesign and implementation.This experience is balanced by experience in managing large teams of 200+ associates in a field sales environment, engaging hearts and minds for efficient and effective execution.

Supply Chain Director, Mars Food Australia

Rikus Oosthuizen

Rikus is a supply chain leader with more than 17 years’ experience in supply chain and logistics management in fast-moving consumer goods across the Middle East, Turkey, Africa and Australia. He has a passion for supply chain, managing a highly effective pipeline, and the intersections up and down the chain. Most recently, Rikus has been working within the Mars Food Australia customer landscape and developing new supply sourcing and network strategies. Rikus has also had a focus throughout his career on managing and developing talent within supply chains.

ANZ Packaging and Process Development Manager, Mars Food Australia

Mark Harry

Product Design Engineering background. 12+ years at MARS, kicking things off on the grad program. Various roles throughout R&D & Marketing. Some techy roles but mostly consumer facing ones, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!

Quality Assurance Manager at Mars Food Australia

Jenny Higgins

Jenny is a Food Scientist who has been working in research and development for more than 24 years. Right from the start, Jenny knew she wanted to combine her love of food with her passion for science in her work. Jenny’s experience has now ranged across new product development, product implementation and quality assurance. Her passion now lies with quality assurance and food safety with many years of experience in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control (HACCP), allergen management, auditing, risk assessment and incident management.

Product and Process Implementation Manager, Mars Food Australia

Matthew Edmonds

Matthew has 20 years’ experience in R&D and manufacturing and is currently leader of a highly engaged technical team in the fast-moving consumer goods Industry. Matthew started work in hydrometallurgy at a small R&D-based startup and moved through a number of food industry roles including process development, quality assurance and shift management. He is now at Mars Food Australia delivering a series of challenging product and process-oriented projects, and leading the R&D Implementation team.

Strategic Sourcing and Operations Director, Mars Food Australia

Dominique Scafidi

Dominique began her career in customer service and logistics but quickly moved into Commercial procurement where she now has more than 24 years experience in across multiple business segments including food, petcare, and confectionery. Dominique has extensive experience in raw material, packaging and indirect procurement and has worked across all buying categories in Australia, New Zealand, North and South East Asia, India and Japan. Dominique has been involved in many transformational change programs throughout her career and is a trainer in strategic sourcing and supplier development.

Talent Acquisition Lead ANZ, Mars Foods Australia

Cassandra Quak

With 19 years’ experience in talent management, Cassandra’s goal is to properly get to know what gets people out of bed in the morning. She strives to give thoughtful advice that will help job seekers and businesses find happiness and success in their work and their team. Cassandra has worked with some of the world’s leading businesses in the travel, food and lifestyle industries such as Star Casino, Flight Centre and Mars Food Australia.

National Mars Lead, Clemenger BBDO

A J Coyne

A creative leader with a proven record of delivering growth. A strategic thinker who believes in the power of creativity to solve business problems and drive commercial results. Experience spanning FMCG, CPG, Music, Entertainment, Technology, Gaming and Fashion. A true believer in purpose and that the change we want to see in the world starts with how we do business today.

Professor of Design, Swinburne University of Technology

Blair Kuys

Blair has a PhD with CSIRO and Swinburne University of Technology and is now Director of the Centre for Design Innovation at Swinburne. Blair has been instrumental in embedding industrial design research, theories and practice in traditional manufacturing fields to sustain and grow productivity. He has a unique ability to work closely with scientists, manufacturers and engineers to legitimise industrial design and the serious impact it can have on an organisation. He has extensive experience in product development with a strong track-record in converting ‘good ideas’ into commercial outcomes.

Founding Director, Food & Nutrition Australia

Sharon Natoli

Sharon Natoli is a visionary thinker who is passionate about the potential for food businesses to create a better future through the way food is produced, marketed and sold. She is Founding Director of Food & Nutrition Australia and for the past 25 years has worked with global and local food brands and producers to assist them prepare for the future by sharing her insights around the drivers shaping the future of food. She has a grass roots understanding of the influences behind consumer purchasing decisions and how to communicate in a way that motivates for change.

Managing Director of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST).

Fiona Fleming

Fiona is an experienced Corporate and Regulatory Affairs professional who has been involved in leading and facilitating change and developing management strategies across a wide portfolio of food policy and regulation matters in global FMCG and NGO environments. Fiona has more than 30 years’ experience in the food industry in the areas of dairy, seafood, cereal based foods, smallgoods, tea, simmer sauces and pastes, ingredients and infant formula. 

Core Team

R&D Innovation Manager, Mars Food Australia. Program Lead, Seeds of Change Australia

Alex Blow

Alex has over 20 years’ experience in FMCG including several careers in Mars Food Australia spanning sales, category management and front-end innovation, and he currently leads the Australian arm of the Seeds of Change Accelerator program. Alex is a conceptual and strategic thinker with considerable knowledge and capability in consumer-centric design-led innovation methodologies. He has a degree in marketing and management and a strong ability to identify and act on consumer, shopper and market insights.

Program Manager, Seeds of Change Australia. Badalya CEO.

George Gekas

George has worked in the food and beverage industry for over three decades. He began on the factory floor and ended up working in 15 very diverse countries in senior marketing and operational roles for a range of retailers and global branded companies.

George is the founder of GKS consultants and CEO and co-founder of Badalya, a company specialising in accelerating the growth of food and beverage products to global markets.

Head of Corporate Affairs, Mars Food Australia. Communication Manager, Seeds of Change Australia

Dannielle Hinwood

Dannielle has more than 20 years’ experience as a communication professional, starting out as a journalist writing for newspapers and consumer magazines. She has worked in consultancy, government and corporate in-house public relations and corporate communication roles, building and protecting corporate and brand reputation both internally and externally. Dannielle has worked across a broad range of sectors and issues from food manufacturing to health, tax and legal, property and construction, small business, technology and economics.