Nestlé USA, Glendale, Calif., is expanding its commitment to innovation in the food industry through a new partnership with Rabobank, New York, and RocketSpace, San Francisco, to support startups for the Terra Food + Agtech Accelerator program. Nestlé will collaborate with Terra and other corporate collaborators to select and coach the most innovative and disruptive startups in the food and agricultural industry.

“We’re experiencing a seismic shift in the food industry, and our partnership with Terra by Rabobank and RocketSpace is just one way in which Nestlé can play a leading role in meeting quickly evolving consumer expectations and explore new disruptive technologies and business models,” says Rui Barbas, chief strategy officer, Nestlé. “When we combine the resources of Nestlé with the creativity and new thinking born from the startup culture, we can create real change in our industry and best deliver on consumer needs.”

Nestlé maintains a deep focus on innovation, leveraging the strength of its brands and power of research and development. Tackling innovation from multiple angles, Nestlé also taps into new thinking from outside the organization to keep at the forefront of a rapidly changing market to deliver on its nutrition, health and wellness promises.

For instance, in 2013, Nestlé launched the Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost (SVIO) in San Francisco. Here, an experienced and cross-functional marketing and technical team works with early-stage entrepreneurs to rapidly build, test and deploy new value-added services and solutions for their consumers around the world.

“Our goals at the SVIO include providing entrepreneurs with access to the expertise and nutritional know-how that Nestlé has developed over its 150-year history,” says Mark Brodeur, vice president of digital innovation, Nestlé. “In exchange, Nestlé will have the ability to learn from and co-create with creative entrepreneurs. That’s why partnerships like ours with Terra make so much sense for both Nestlé and those with whom we collaborate.”

“Our partnership with Nestlé builds on its 150-year history of continuously seeking ways to contribute to a healthier future, not only through its products, but [also] in the way it conducts business globally,” adds Duncan Logan, chief executive officer of RocketSpace. “Through its commitment to open innovation, Nestlé is adopting and driving new progressive strategies to address the profound changes shaping the food and beverage industry today.”

Terra connects large global brands like Nestlé with startups to work on real-life product testing and go-to-market solutions.

“The complementary capabilities of everyone involved are extremely exciting,” says Manuel Gonzalez, global head of F&A innovation at Rabobank. “Combining Nestlé’s expertise in nutrition, health and wellness with RocketSpace’s well-known accelerator acumen within the startup community and Rabobank’s strong involvement in the food and beverage startup community, we expect dynamic results from the collaboration.”

Nestlé expects to support 20 startups over the duration of the two 6-month accelerator programs to explore new and improved ways to produce, sell and distribute food. Nestlé will work with a diverse cross-section of startups, selected from more than 1,000 applicants, with the goal of finding healthier and more sustainable products and services.

The first of two Nestlé-hosted Terra programs will be selected in the fall. The call for applications for the second cohort will be open in early 2018.