BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Two innovative pet food startups, Chippin and Because Animals, took second and third place respectively at Factory LLC’s first ever Pet Innovation Challenge, sponsored by New Hope Network.

Ten pre-selected startups in the pet food space attended the event on Oct. 2 and 3, which included a “live pitch slam” competition, networking and educational opportunities.

“We’re excited we were able to bring cutting-edge entrepreneurs, industry leaders and investors to Factory to ideate solutions for some of the challenges the entrepreneurs are facing,” said Rich Thompson, Managing Partner of Factory, LLC. “All of the companies walked away with some actionable steps to help them grow their businesses.”

The Pet Innovation Challenge pitch slam gave emerging pet companies working with alternative proteins, functional nutrition solutions, wellness supplements and pet care technology a chance to fetch attention from investors. More than $50,000 worth of prizes were on the line.

In the end, TEEF, a liquid prebiotic dental health solution for dogs by Primal Health, won the pitch slam. TEEF will receive a cash prize, six months of services from Factory, and a free booth at Natural Products Expo East in 2020, according to Factory.

Chippin — the “Beyond Meat of Pet Food” — and Because Animals, a biotech startup using cultured animal cells to develop pet food and treats, also received some funding and prizes for their pitches. Chippin incorporates cricket protein in its all-natural dog treats as a sustainable source of nutrients.

According to New Hope Network, there has been a shift in the pet care industry toward small, artisan brands with new takes on traditional pet food and treat products.

“The Pet Innovation Challenge demonstrated that innovation is thriving in the global pet products industry and that the same consumer-driven trends fueling opportunity in the broader CPG market — such as growing demand for personalization and sustainable protein sources — are driving pet products innovation as well,” said Carlotta Mast, market leader for New Hope Network. “This event, which was designed to allow entrepreneurs to solicit support and ideas from the pet products and CPG community to help them address a business challenge, also demonstrated the deep expertise and generous spirit of the industry leaders gathered.”

Dr. Katy Nelson, an animal health expert, celebrity veterinarian and face of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy,” spoke during the event on Oct. 3 about the importance of “finding real-time solutions to the biggest problems” being addressed by each of the 10 companies in attendance, according to New Hope Network.

The Pet Innovation Challenge drew hundreds of attendees, from entrepreneurs and investors to industry experts and local community members, New Hope Network reported. All proceeds raised by the event will be donated to the Center for Animal Health and Welfare, a nonprofit organization dedicated to pet adoption and rescue, education and reducing pet overpopulation.

The ten participating companies included: Animal Biome, microbiome testing and supplements for health and wellness; Because Animals, a biotechnology company creating pet food made with cultured meat; Chippin, the “Beyond Meat of Pet Food”; Hachi Tami, a smart cat litter box that helps early detection of chronic kidney disease; Jiminy’s, dog food and treats using insect protein; Maranda, veterinary-approved lab tests from home; Mella Petcare, a first-generation thermometer device that allows for non-rectal temperature readings; Obe, a patented pet health and wellness system using smart technology for personalized dog wellness and nutrition; TEEF by Primal Health, a patented, clinically-proven drinkable dental prebiotic; and Shameless Pets, the first brand to focus on upcycling within pet treats.

Read more about the brand-building business that is Factory in our exclusive profile.