Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Branson announces new ‘Foodpreneur‘ awards to promote start-ups

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There has never been a more exciting time to enter the food business. Everywhere you look there seems to be a new restaurant, café, pop-up or food van opening nearby. When the weekend arrives, every square metre of available pavement and park space is filled with inventive vendors offering up a selection of different exotic cuisines. Britain is undoubtedly undergoing a “food renaissance”.

But only a fraction of these ephemeral enterprises make the leap to a more permanent business model. Blink and you might miss that van across the street selling your favourite Mexican-Polish fusion Bratwurst Tacos. That‘s why Sir Richard Branson and Virgin have decided to launch a new competition to find Britain‘s best emerging new food start-ups.

Virgin StartUp has already given up to £75m in loans to over 10,000 businesses, with the Britain‘s thriving food industry a major recipient of these funds. Branson acknowledges that “Britain is living through a golden age of entrepreneurship with almost 5m small business operating in the UK. At the heart of this are innovative food start-ups, which are popping up all over the country”.

Fledgling businesses across the country are being invited to pitch to Branson in the hope of winning one of four awards available. Sir Richard will be joined by a panel of judges including Ella‘s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley, and Hemsley & Hemsley founders Melissa and Jasmine. The judges will be looking for an operation that is not only delicious and profitable, but also eco-friendly and healthy. Melissa Hemsley wants a business that ensures “customers are truly eating well” as well as “operating as sustainably as possible”.

The four categories include the “Most exciting new brand” award for those looking to get noticed by larger supermarkets and have their products on shelves nationwide. Those looking to maintain their independence, either to make the transition from pop-up to permanent residence or to transform an existing restaurant into a franchise, are invited to compete for the “Tastiest start-up” category. There will also be a “Best healthy food business” award, as well as a prize for the “Most loved kids‘ food” aimed at childrens‘ brands.

The shortlisted start-ups will make their pitch as the Virgin StartUp Foodpreneur Fest 2014, taking place in September. The winners of each category will receive mentoring in the form of “money-can‘t buy support to reach new customers” provided by Virgin.

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