New in 2019: Up to $17,500 in pre-seed grants for participating start-ups

Easton, MD (March 25, 2019) — F3 (Farm-Fish-Food) Tech – an initiative of the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center – is now accepting applications through May 19 for its Pre-Accelerator, a free six-week program offered online from June 4 to July 18. The program is designed to help entrepreneurs, students and start-ups define, develop and validate their proof of concept for business models or technologies in the emerging F³ Tech sectors of agriculture, aquaculture and environmental science.

According to Executive Director Mike Thielke, “We launched this program in 2018 to help early-stage startups validate their ideas for new products or services, acquire valuable feedback from industry experts, and prepare for our more aggressive, traditional multi-month accelerator program that starts September 3.”

Based on the success of last year’s inaugural program, the organizers have added a mini-grant component to help participants qualify their concepts for F3’s upcoming Accelerator. Grants are available in three categories: Customer Discovery ($2,500); Technology Validation ($10,000); and Market Validation ($5,000).

Training sessions are conducted online, making the program accessible for innovators globally as the program expands. In addition to a robust training schedule with industry subject matter experts, each participant meets with a mentor for individual coaching sessions.

Chris Hlubb, a food industry executive with experience in value-added product development and the accelerator’s founding director, credits the program with providing participants with industry connections and expertise, customer validation performed far earlier than most programs, and a level of mentoring that parallels top-tier management consulting firms.

“From advancing research into making insects a more valuable ingredient to using algae in innovative consumer products, entrepreneurs throughout Maryland are creating the next generation technologies that will feed, fuel and sustain our world,” said Chris Hlubb, program director. “Last year’s participants confirmed that communication between technology innovators and agriculture is where we can aid them most to validate their solutions.”

The online program features two, one-hour interactive webinar sessions each week as well as a one-hour mentoring session with program management and consultants. Topics include: How to go from proof of concept to prototyping; how to market something that doesn’t exist but could; and building a brand and getting publicity. For a complete schedule or to submit a program application, visit F³ Tech’s website.