TOPEKA, KAN. — GO Topeka and Plug and Play Topeka have teamed up again to accelerate innovation in the animal health and ag-tech industries. Twenty-six early-stage companies, including 15 animal health brands and 11 ag-tech startups, have been selected to participate in Plug and Play Topeka’s next accelerator program, through which they will gain access to developmental support, mentorship, and proof-of-concept tools designed to take their businesses to the next level.

This cohort of startups was selected by Cargill, Evergy, Bimini Pet Health and Hill’s Pet Nutrition, all founding partners of the Plug and Play platform. The entrepreneurs behind each of these startups are based all over the world, from the United States to Norway, Sweden, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and beyond.

“We are excited to work with these startups and have the opportunity to showcase the regional resources and partnerships available to support the development and growth of their businesses while immersing them in our community,” said Stephanie Moran, senior vice president of innovation for GO Topeka. “We’re looking forward to hosting the startups in Topeka so we can showcase what our region has to offer these key sectors.”

The three-month program will begin shortly and end with an event in Topeka on June 6, according to GO Topeka. This latest cohort includes four startups with a focus on pet nutrition — Arch Pet Food, Dog Child, Friends & Family Pet Food Company, and CheckForPet.

Arch Pet Food is a Chicago-based pet food and treat brand providing sustainable and hypoallergenic nutritional solutions to dogs and cats. The company offers a range of functional dog treats targeting digestive, hip and joint, and skin and coat health, as well as a vitamin-packed biscuit treat. All treats are formulated with cricket protein and free from eight common dog food allergens.

In January 2024, Arch Pet Food teased the launch of its first cat treats made with Copi (formerly known as Asian Carp), an invasive freshwater fish species impacting North American rivers and lakes. The brand also plans to introduce its first complete-and-balanced, limited-ingredient formula for dogs — Super Future Formula — formulated with yeast and black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) proteins, a natural prebiotic and other ingredients designed to support digestive health and steer clear of common allergens.

In 2023, the startup was one of five finalists selected for Purina’s 2024 Pet Care Innovation Prize program.

Dog Child was one of four pet nutrition-focused startups selected to participate in the spring 2024 cohort of Plug and Play Topeka's accelerator programSource: Dog Child

Toronto, Canada-based Dog Child aims to help pet owners cook their dogs’ food at home while ensuring they get all the nutrients needed from a complete-and-balanced diet. The brand offers several supplemental mixes designed to add essential vitamins, minerals and key nutrients to a home-cooked dog diet. In November 2022, the startup introduced a Dog Cookbook to help dog owners navigate their home-cooked pet food journeys with help from its own products.

Dog Child — which was first called The Animals Kitchen before changing its name ahead of its official launch in early 2022 — was one of six pet care startups chosen to participate in the fifth cohort of Leap Venture Studio’s accelerator program.

Friends & Family Pet Food Company is a newcomer to the cultivated pet food protein space, and Hamburg, Germany-based CheckForPet is a consumer-facing solution aimed at helping pet owners select the right food for their four-legged companions.

Other startups to participate in the spring 2024 cohort are innovating in the areas of supply chain management, sustainable agriculture and farm management, pet health diagnostics, pathogen detection, alternative proteins, antibiotic reliance, automation and AI, and more. They include:

  • Agrigator
  • Athian
  • DigiFarm
  • Gårdskapital
  • LandPrint
  • Mapana
  • Oaken
  • RawData
  • RealmFive
  • Terrra
  • TRIC Robotics
  • EpiPaws
  • GenoTwin
  • Isomark
  • Lampovet
  • Livestock Labs
  • Organicin Scientific
  • Planet Sustainable Technologies
  • Poultry Patrol
  • Seismi

“We are so lucky to have this program based here in Topeka,” said Lindsay Lebahn, director and partner success manager for Plug and Play Topeka. “We want to continue to collaborate creatively to build on the momentum set up over the last three years. We’re excited for others to witness the technologies these startup founders have developed to better the ag-tech and animal health industries.”

The last iteration of Plug and Play’s animal health and ag-tech accelerator program, held in the fall of 2023, included three pet nutrition startups — 5 Element Food Therapy, Bene Meat Technologies, and Ten Lives. Several other pet nutrition brands have participated in past cohorts and partnered with Plug and Play to advance innovation in the sector.

According to GO Topeka, 78 startups have graduated from the Plug and Play accelerator program since it started in 2021.

Read more about Plug and Play’s industry impact to date.

Find more articles about pet food industry startups.