High Drama, High Stakes as Kane County Makes Shark-Tank-Style Pitch in $500,000 Food to Market Challenge
A half-million dollars to invest in an innovative food hub that will benefit Kane County residents for decades to come.
That’s the dream — and that’s what’s at stake as a Kane County team prepares to compete against the region’s most innovative food-to-market ideas in the high-stakes Food to Market Challenge Pitch Event on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
And you’re invited to attend.
In August, Kane County announced that it was among a group of five teams that had been selected to compete in the Food to Market Challenge. The competition will award the winning finalist team a $500,000 prize to fund their proposal for supporting a more sustainable local food system in the Chicago region.
Kane County and its project partners have been preparing for the Shark Tank-style pitch event, where the competing teams will present their proposals to a panel of food-business entrepreneurs and investors. Once the judges have had the opportunity to query each contestant team, the event will culminate with the announcement of the Food to Market Challenge winner.
To provide a better sense of how Kane County and its project partners hope to use the award to improve the region’s local food system, the team has composed a five-minute YouTube video (embedded above) outlining the elements of their proposal.
The pitch event is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Edlis Neeson Theater, 220 E Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26. There is no charge to attend the event, but attendees must register online in advance.
“The Kane County team is thrilled to participate in this exciting contest,” said Matt Tansley, Kane County land use planner. “Come show your support!”
The challenge called for innovative ideas to address the barriers that limit the scale of the local food market in the Chicago region. Twenty-four teams submitted proposals, and five of those teams advance to the final round of the competition. The winning team will receive $500,000 to develop their solution.
Kane County is pitching a new food hub and network concept that will increase production by 160 acres and local sales by $10 million, as well as new land-use strategies to provide opportunities for beginning farmers to access land. The plan calls for a public/private planning protocol to assist other public agencies in expanding and protecting farmland and building food hubs.
The Kane County team is comprised of New Venture Advisors, Kane County government, Heritage Prairie Farm, Alsum Farms and Produce and Wiltse’s Farm.
You can read up on all five finalists by clicking this link. In addition to Kane County’s food-hub plan, competitors include:
F.O.O.D. — Farm on Ogden Development
With a team anchored by Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest Program, F.O.O.D. hopes to establish an urban food hub and broad partnership network to develop and support new farmers and distribute 280,000 pounds of produce.
Chicago Artisan Grain Collaborative
The Chicago Artisan Grain Collaborative unites a team of operations, product development and education experts to implement a vision inspired by chef Dan Barber: a value chain to market the full rotation of wheat, corn, rye, oats, and beans essential to regenerative farm systems.
Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance
The farmer alliance hopes to create a local food brand that builds awareness while preserving individual farm identification. Fresh Picks will increase sales to wholesale buyers to increase purchases from alliance farms.
Team Leverage: Bringing it Home
FarmLogix, Top Box Foods and This Old Farm are working together to create “an impactful, scalable model for aggregation, sustainable volume and delivery of local foods into underserved Chicago communities. The plan is to partner a local farm network with the combined efforts of two small Chicago companies currently moving local food into schools, and healthy food into underserved communities.
About the Food to Market Challenge
The Food to Market Challenge will award $500,000 to the multidisciplinary team that designs the most innovative solution to re-conceive supply chain practices that today limit the scale or efficiency of the Chicago region’s local and sustainable food market.
The solution will address the problem of size as a marketplace barrier for burgeoning local food enterprises. The solution will be feasible to implement; can be sustained or grow even after funding from the challenge ends; and advance the charitable purposes of Food:Land:Opportunity to create a resilient local food economy that protects and conserves land and other natural resources while promoting market innovation and building wealth and assets in the Chicago region’s communities.
The winning team will receive $500,000 to implement its proposed solution, but the intended outcome of the competition goes beyond naming a winner. The challenge seeks to create a common framework for assessing and investing in innovative ideas, attract new talent to the local and sustainable food sector, realize solutions that would not emerge through traditional grant making or without philanthropic capital, and convene an influential community committed to improving the Chicago region’s local and sustainable food economy.
Funded through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Food:Land:Opportunity is a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust that aims to create a resilient local food economy that protects and conserves land and other natural resources while promoting market innovation and building wealth and assets in the Chicago region’s communities. Food:Land:Opportunity catalyzes efforts to increase land for sustainable production, strengthen local food business practices, and attract capital to the local food system.