UK-based independent accelerator operator Mission Ventures has linked up with investment groups and a charity to launch a challenger brand initiative intended to help tackle childhood obesity. 

The after-school snacking sector will be a key focus of the newly launched Good Food Fund, which is aimed at attracting SMEs in the food and drink space which are promoting better-for-you brands.

Mission Ventures, formerly known as Grocery Accelerator, is led by three entrepreneurs from the UK food sector: Plum Baby co-founder Paddy Willis; John Stapleton, co-founder of New Covent Garden Soup and Little Dish; and Nigel Parrott, co-founder of Ape Snacks. 

It has partnered with ‘social impact investor’ Big Society Capital and the Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity on this latest venture.

Entrepreneurial business owners are invited to apply for a cut of the GBP1.8m (US$2.2m) Good Food Fund. The cut off date is 27 April.

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By GlobalData

Under development for 18 months, the fund will provide business support and allocate finances and help to brands committed to bringing healthier options to market. The accelerator will be run by Mission Ventures while the fund itself will be managed by early-stage venture capital firm Ascension Ventures.

It has a long-term aim of “transforming the options available through the support of healthier challenger brands at an affordable price point”.

Successful applicants will receive a fully-funded package of business support from Mission Ventures, including a plan for how the product can be scaled to reach an accessible and sustainable price point. Participants can also apply for financial support in the form of equity and debt from The Good Food Fund.

Mission Ventures CEO Paddy Willis said: “We are excited to partner on this hugely important initiative. Following groundwork last year, we are ready to explore how healthier challenger brands can play their part within market-led initiatives to combat childhood obesity, especially in lower-income families. 

“We look forward to recruiting a broad range of SME brand owners and retailers, both on local borough initiatives and at a more strategic level. Through the combination of our team’s practical experience in launching, growing and scaling successful young brands, we believe we will change the landscape of healthy snacking for children.”  

Ascension Ventures managing partner Jean de Fougerolles said: “When the UK comes out of Covid-19 and into a recession, funds like the Good Food Fund will play an even more relevant and crucial role by backing businesses that are solving key market failures and driving food innovations targeting low-income households across the UK.”

Mission Ventures’ Stapleton told just-food it would be looking to work with “early-stage growth brands that have been in the market for a couple of years”.

He said he expects around ten companies to go through the accelerator while another three or four better-for-you brands outside of the snacking category may go down the funding route only.

Stapleton agrees with de Fougerolles about the post-Covid-19 food environment.

“When people come out of this they will want to go back to variety but I think there will be a focus on health,” he said.

“This has been a shock to people and whatever health means to them they will be much more aware of it.”

Applications to the Good Food Fund can be made here.