ST. LOUIS — Five innovative pet industry startups have been selected as finalists for Nestlé Purina’s 2020 Pet Care Innovation Prize program. Three of the five companies are focused on improving the lives of pets through nutrition: NewRoad Foods, TEEF! by Primal Health, and Because Animals.

NewRoad Foods, based in San Juan Capistrano, California, is developing human-grade, baked-to-order kibble for dogs. It currently offers five dog diets and one dog treat product. Most complete-and-balanced diets offer functional benefits, such as skin and coat health, weight management, age-specific nutrition and nutrition for dogs with allergies.

Based in Minneapolis, TEEF! by Primal Health is a liquid prebiotic dental health solution for dogs. The startup’s proprietary Protektin42™ powder is formulated from human-grade ingredients and can be added to a dogs water to promote oral canine hygiene.

TEEF! won the pitch slam — and more than $50,000 worth of prizes — at the first Pet Innovation Challenge hosted by Factory LLC and New Hope Network in October 2019. 

Because Animals is a biotech startup searching for pet nutrition solutions that don’t involve harvesting animals to provide protein. The company, based in Philadelphia, is using lab-grown ingredients such as probiotics, nutritional yeast and cultured meat to develop its pet supplements.

Each of the five finalists will receive $10,000 in cash funding from 9 Square Ventures, the venture capital arm of Nestlé Purina PetCare.

"It's inspiring to see so many passionate startups focused on improving the lives of pets and the quality of care they get throughout their lives," said Blair Morgan, co-lead of Purina's 9 Square Ventures and vice president of strategy and innovation for Purina. "By opening our doors and resources to these entrepreneurs, we hope to foster a more collaborative and inclusive network for the next generation of pet care thinkers and leaders."

Additionally, the startups will gain access to mentorship, industry exposure, exclusive resources and financial support through Purina’s Pet Care Innovation Prize program over the next month. This includes a “pet care business accelerator boot camp” in St. Louis where they will network with pet industry professionals from all corners of the industry.

In February 2020, each company will travel to Global Pet Expo in Orlando to pitch their brand to a panel of industry experts and judges for a chance to earn $10,000 in additional funding and partner with Purina on a future project.

All expenses for the startups’ Global Pet Expo trip will be paid by Purina. Winners will be chosen and announced during Global Pet Expo, Feb. 26-28. Specific dates and times to be announced.

The other two startups chosen for the program were: Lacuna Diagnostics, Ft. Collins, Colorado, which is developing a rapid method for diagnosing cancer and other pet illnesses; and PetHospice, Berkeley, California, a full-service, end-of-life support system to provide comfort for aging pets and their owners.

Purina’s annual Pet Care Innovation Prize program is geared toward young companies in the pet industry with innovative ideas about pet health and wellness, services, technology, nutrition, treats or litter solutions.

The program also hosted an inaugural Pet Care Innovation Summit in October 2019, where 25 companies were able to network, learn and pitch their brands to investors and industry leaders.

Read about Purina’s 2019 Pet Care Innovation Prize cohort, which included Shameless Pets and Bond Pet Foods.

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