ST LOUIS — Purina announced finalists for its third-annual Pet Care Innovation Prize, which provides financial support and mentorship to startups in the US pet care industry. Two of the five finalists are rethinking pet nutrition: Shameless Pets in Chicago, Illinois, and Bond Pet Foods in Boulder, Colorado.

Shameless Pets takes ingredients that would have otherwise been wasted and upcycles them into premium dog treats. The treats have unique flavors and provide optimal nutrition while supporting a sustainable supply chain. Shameless Pets offers soft-baked and crunchy dog treats, all of which are natural, grain-free and made in the US.

Bond Pet Foods formulated dog and cat food with animal proteins but doesn’t harm any animals in the process of harvesting the protein. It accomplishes this through cellular agriculture technologies, using meat proteins from animal cells and natural microbes instead of animal meat from slaughtered livestock. Through a process called oxygenation, the animal cells are “fed” nutrients such as vitamins, sugars and minerals inside fermentation tanks, resulting in animal proteins. Those are then mixed and cooked with other natural ingredients to provide complete and balanced pet nutrition.

Infographic: oxygenated animal cells turned to protein

"This year's class of Pet Care Innovation Prize finalists is a testament to how broad the pet care industry is and how much potential is out there to positively impact not only the lives of pets and pet owners but the planet," said Blair Morgan, vice president of innovation at Purina. "We look forward to opening Purina's doors to these entrepreneurs and sharing our resources and expertise with them as they work to take their businesses to the next level in the industry that we lead and love."

The other three finalists are Basepaws, a pet genetics company based in Los Angeles, California, GuardianVets, a Chicago-based veterinary telehealth service and platform offering around-the-clock care for veterinary hospitals, and New York-based PlayDate, the manufacturer of a pet surveillance product that can be remotely controlled to follow pets around the house. Each of the five finalists will receive $10,000 in case from Purina to grow its business.

Each finalist will be given the opportunity to showcase its business at Global Pet Expo in March 2019. Purina will provide transportation and accommodations to the five companies. The grand prize winner will be chosen by Purina to receive up to an additional $10,000 cash prize and the opportunity to partner with Purina on a future project.

Purina’s Pet Care Innovation Prize is made possible by its 9 Square Ventures division and Active Capital. Businesses considered for the prize are startups in their early stages working in the pet care industry with innovative ideas in pet health and wellness, services, technology, nutrition and new products. For more information, visit

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