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Identifying investment and partnership opportunities in nutrition innovation [Interview]

Article-Identifying investment and partnership opportunities in nutrition innovation [Interview]

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At Vitafoods Europe, Nutrition Capital Network’s Investor Meeting will be bringing together innovation, investment and strategic expertise.

Bringing innovative nutrition concepts to market can be hugely challenging. All too often, businesses find transitioning from early development to commercialisation a step to far, in part because they lack access to capital and strategic assistance at this critical stage.

This was the industry need that Nutrition Capital Network (NCN) sought to address.

NCN was founded in 2007 to facilitate financing for small companies, and to introduce investors to the next generation of successful brands and technologies in the nutrition and health & wellness industry,” explains Mike Dovbish, NCN’s executive director. “Our aim has been to connect financial and strategic investors with mission-driven health and nutrition companies. Encouraging more companies to receive funding helps the nutrition ecosystem as a whole.

Connecting investors with innovative startups

The network runs events designed to bring this innovation ecosystem together and has built up an excellent database of investors. When it comes to meetings, NCN’s normal schedule includes four annual events - two mainly brand-focused investor meetings in San Francisco and New York City; the NCN Ingredient Technology Investor Meeting at SupplySide West in Las Vegas; and NCN Europe.

A robust selection committee is in place to provide mentoring support, and to select companies to pitch at these events. Since 2007, some 1,100 companies have presented at 62 NCN investor meetings. And as of October 2023, over 48% of NCN presenting companies were able to complete some form of transaction within 18 months of their NCN presentation.

In-person partnership opportunities at Vitafoods Europe

This year is slightly different however – at Vitafoods Europe, NCN’s Europe Investor Meeting will be taking place in person, on 14 May. The meeting will connect high-growth nutrition companies – consumer brands, science-backed ingredients, and enabling technologies – with investment, licensing, and corporate partnerships.

At the event, invited companies will be pitching to raise capital, and to establish licensing agreements. Some will be early-stage startups, while others will be further along the development path. The event is designed to facilitate lasting relationships.

We took a break between 2020 and 2023, but it’s great to be back in-person again,” says Dovbish. “It feels like this is the right time. At Vitafoods, it will mostly be B2B companies involved in supplementation and functional ingredients – mostly European, but also some from the Middle East. There will also be lots of corporate investors in the room.

Expanding the innovation space

Dovbish believes that the meeting presents investors with a front row seat to cutting edge innovation in the field. “We are at the forefront of seeing emerging new companies, technologies and innovations,” he says. “Gut health for example is now a mainstream concern, but we were seeing the first innovations being pitched ten years ago. This is what makes this so exciting – seeing how trends shift.

NCN Investor Meetings are part of New Hope Network, an Informa business, and a broader service platform to facilitate partnering between nutrition, natural product and health & wellness firms and financial and strategic investors. The NCN Europe Investor Meeting is produced in partnership and co-located with Vitafoods Europe.

Dovbish is a founding team member, providing strategic guidance and preparing participating companies for investor conferences. He has overseen NCN’s transformation as it evolves into an immersive, hybrid experience.

Investors or corporate partners interested in attending the event - or interested in potential sponsorship opportunities - should email Mike directly at [email protected].