Innovation Fund
2021 Call for Applications
Now Closed

Our 2021 Call for Applications is closed.

In collaboration with Village Capital, we are excited to announce our investment readiness program for U.S.-based startups working to prevent, recover and recycle food waste.

This spring, the Innovation Fund will award grant funding to innovators with emerging technologies and solutions for food waste. The Fund will also connect these thought-leading innovators with Village Capital's award-winning resources, including intensive peer-to-peer feedback and one-on-one mentorship with potential customers, investors and industry experts.

Who Should Apply?

We encourage applications from innovators building high-growth, scalable solutions focused on the following challenge:

We seek to reshape the food system by supporting innovators who are elevating food to its highest use and disrupting the linear supply chain. This could include solutions such as imperfect produce lines, upcycled foods & meal kits, upcycled commercial ingredients and more.

Innovators with diverse life experiences solve problems with a unique perspective. The Foundation and Village Capital seek to lift up and support the best startups and founders who are solving critical problems in our food system. We strongly encourage founders with diverse lived experience to apply.

If you are selected as a 2021 cohort member of the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Innovation Fund, you must be available to participate in:

✔ A one-week virtual program May 17th-21st

✔ Monthly cohort sessions from June to November

✔ Attend the Venture Forum event in November

Applications close April 1, 2021.

Apply Now

Why Apply?

  • Each of the cohort startups will receive $100,000 upfront as seed grant funding.
  • An additional $100,000 of grant funding will be available to each cohort startup based on their achievement of identified milestones.
  • Each of the cohort startups will participate in 30+ hours of virtual technical and business mentorship, investment milestone planning and access to the Foundation and Village Capital’s network of partners, investors, stakeholders and mentors.
  • At the end of the 6-month milestone development period, the Foundation will offer impact investments of $250,000 to two cohort startups that will be selected by their peers. The terms of these impact investments will be discussed and negotiated after the winners have been selected.

About the Program

The Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation and Village Capital will recruit, vet and select 10 startups that will participate in a virtual workshop focused on investment readiness, technical skill development and networking with a community of investors and mentors who work in and around the food system. The virtual one week workshop will take place in May 2021.

Innovators will benefit from an additional 6 months of Milestone Planning and Support, with an opportunity to present their startups and highlight major achievements to an audience of investors and key stakeholders at a Venture Forum Event in November 2021.

Innovation Fund 2021 Timeline

Apply Now

Who Is Eligible to Apply?

Applicants must
  • Be ambitious, creative, visionary, eager and motivated
  • Be over 18 years old
  • Have a registered entity in the U.S. and have a U.S. bank account
Your startup must
  • Support Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation mission to help create communities free of hunger and waste
  • Be early-stage seeking funding and support
  • Have a viable product, service or prototype of such product or service
  • Be addressing a proven problem in a unique way
Your startup can
  • Be for profit and nonprofit
You are not eligible if
  • You are under 18 years old
  • You do not have a registered entity in the U.S. and a U.S. bank account

How Will We Evaluate Applications?


The team has the ability to build a successful business and execute on their vision.

Value Proposition

The solution solves a major pain-point for their target market and will deliver specific, measurable value to customers.

Scalable Solution

The solution has the potential to scale across many communities. The solution can work under many different scenarios or in many different communities or has many use cases. It can be transferable to a large number of people or organizations in the U.S.

Measurable Impact

The Innovation Fund is focused on helping scale solutions that can play a meaningful role in creating communities free of hunger and waste. A key focus for grant funding will be to support solutions where the impact can be measured as a way of supporting scale-up.

Innovator FAQ

WHat do you mean by "elevating food to its highest use?"

Please reference the EPA food waste hierarchy pyramid here.

What is the main goal of the program?

The program is designed to help startups identify early milestones and prepare for your next round of capital (if relevant). In short, through in-person workshops, we deliver a targeted, award-winning curriculum and provide countless connections to prepare startups for growth.

Does the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation take equity?

No. The Foundation will offer impact investments of $250,000 to two cohort startups that will be selected by their peers. The terms of these impact investments will be discussed and negotiated after the winners have been selected. 

Does Village Capital take equity?


Still have questions?

For more detailed responses to these and more questions, please click here.