Lion on the prowl for innovators

Lion CEO Stuart Irvine. Image: Supplied (AFR / Peter Rae)

Food and beverage company Lion is looking for innovators and entrepreneurs to join a new start-up accelerator program, which launched this week.

Lion Unleashed is a new innovation initiative, a 12-week accelerator program that was designed in partnership with Australian corporate accelerator specialist, Slingshot, and will connect market-leading Lion brands such as Dairy Farmers and Dare Iced Coffee with world-class entrepreneurs who can help to accelerate Lion’s innovation agenda.

Lion CEO Stuart Irvine said the new program would be an opportunity for start-ups and scale-ups to work with the company to unlock even more value at every stage of the value chain and bring new ideas in the food and beverage sector to life.

“Innovation has been at the heart of Lion’s 177-year success and is critical for our long term, sustainable growth,” he said.

“Together with the R&D expertise of our parent company Kirin, we have a strong track record of evolving both our alcohol and dairy portfolios to meet the changing needs and tastes of consumers.

“But no one has a monopoly on great, disruptive ideas that can really challenge and grow our people and our business.

“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, our deep manufacturing experience and potential partnership opportunities with our leading brands, including XXXX, Steinlager, Little Creatures, Dairy Farmers and Pura.”

The launch will be followed by an information roadshow to teach potential applicants about the program, stopping at the following locations:

  • BRISBANE – 26 June at The Precinct, Fortitude Valley
  • SYDNEY – 27 June at WeWork Pyrmont
  • MELBOURNE – 28 June at Inspire9, Richmond
  • AUCKLAND – 3 July at The Icehouse

Start-ups accepted into the program will have the opportunity to exchange equity for up to $50,000 from the Slingshot Investment Fund.

Slingshot network partners will also be able to access technology, software, hosting, office space and catering benefits, as well as mentoring advice from industry leaders like Kate Parker, CEO of Your Tea; Alistair Venn, Managing Director of Menulog; and Mark Moran, Head of Global Partnerships at LaFourchette (A Trip Advisor Company).

Slingshot CEO Karen Lawson. Image: Supplied

Slingshot CEO Karen Lawson said the food and beverage industry was not only critical to the economy, but also a meaningful part of our daily lives.

“We see a massive opportunity for disruption and exciting innovation in this space and are thrilled to partner with Lion to drive collaboration between two powerful forces – a leading global business and the start-up communities in Australia, New Zealand and the broader APAC region,” she said.

“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 start-ups.”

The program aims to invest in start-up and scale-up innovators within the following themes:

  • Enhanced Connections– engaging consumers through technology
  • Living Well– better ingredients, better for you products, better choices
  • Limitless Experiences– pioneering real-world tech solutions and real-time experiences
  • Transform Tomorrow– value chain innovation and data analytics
  • Unleashed– to develop inspiring solutions related to all facets of the production, distribution and consumption of food and drink.

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