The achievement of the food venture benefitted businesses in the region on the whole, as Seedrs CEO Jeff Lynn revealed a partnership with the Welsh government growth project Impact Innovation to “fulfil growth ambitions” of local companies. These are but a few of the developments to have taken place, and with so many zeroes floating around, Richard Branson is seemingly licking his lips at the prospect of sinking his teeth into the industry with the second Virgin Startup Foodrepreneur Festival. The entrepreneur support and funding arm of Virgin is out to build on the 2014 edition of the event, by this time promising the chance for UK food and drink business leaders to export their companies into the US. This decision arrives as the government backs the project via the Exporting arm of its Business is Great campaign, which hopes to encourage 100,000 new companies to export by 2020. It would come as export value of food and soft drink sales fell 5.3 per cent year-on-year in H1 to £6bn, but including alcoholic drinks, this rose to £8.6bn and fell by 4.8 per cent.
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With foodies now able to enter the scheme, which will culminate with a final in London on 2 October, Branson has wasted no time, having wrapped the three-month Pitch to Rich challenge in June. The Virgin boss was on hand during the final, sitting alongside the likes of model David Gandy – a businessman and investor in his own right – Jo Malone and Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts. Although food-based ventures made it to the grand finale, tech came out on top as the three winners, JustPark, Fourex and Kino-mo, supported the sharing economy, FX and holographic imagery respectively – sharing the experience with Real Business and describing how to pitch to a billionaire investor. The Foodrepeneur Festival will include workshops, boasting “leading industry figures” at the helm, while a “panel of foodie giants” deciding the winners includes Branson and Paul Lindley, founder of organic baby food range Ella’s Kitchen. “Britain is living through a golden age of entrepreneurship with over five million small businesses providing jobs and helping to boost the economy,” said Branson.
“At the heart of this are British foodie startups which have created a burgeoning industry of entrepreneurs. Last year’s event unearthed some fantastic talent and I can’t wait to meet the next wave of foodpreneurs driving this movement forward.” Judges on the day will choose winners from two categories, Street Food and Retail, which have different prize packages, including: Street Food – Judged in collaboration with Urban Food Fest and Appear Here One winner will secure a pop-up, rent-free, for one week – Monday-Sunday – at Old Street Underground Station via Appear Here, and one winner will receive a rent-free stall for three months – Saturdays only – at Urban Food Fest in Shoreditch. Retail – Judged in collaboration with Exporting is Great and Target Corporation Four winners will have the chance to meet buyers at Target in the US, as the retailer looks to trial four new products in American stores. Distribution during the trial would be across 300 venues, with successful goods to be extended across all 2,000 of the firm’s stores after six months. Lindley of Ella’s Kitchen, said: “The US market can be a holy grail to young British brands looking to expand internationally. I am excited to be working with Virgin StartUp on our joint mission to find pioneering entrepreneurs and help them gain the momentum needed to crack new markets. “Drawing on my own experience and the excellent opportunities on offer through the collaboration with Target Corporation, I am confident that soon US consumers will soon be discovering some fantastic new British food brands!” Foodrepreneurs can enter the competition on the Virgin Startup website, while workshop tickets can be secured at Eventbrite. By Zen Terrelonge
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