Food Systems Innovation Award Program

In collaboration with the UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health, Venture Catalyst launched the Food Systems Innovation Award in Fiscal Year 2020-21. The Food Systems Innovation Award program funds proof-of-concept innovations utilizing cutting-edge technologies to improve metabolic health outcomes by providing easily accessible food and health choices that support happier, healthier, longer lives for everyone. The award program is focused on fostering mutual benefit to participants: applicants gain feedback from experienced industry-relevant investors, and the investors gain insights into emerging game-changing technologies, while providing their expertise on the marketplace.

Early-stage technologies from university research are often perceived as too uncertain or too risky to attract funding to translate into commercial products or services. The Food Systems Innovation Award helps bridge the gap between discovery and commercialization by providing two key resources:

  • An opportunity to showcase the research to investors for feedback and guidance
  • Funding that will help drive research to address market needs

The ultimate objective of the program is to develop metabolic health driven products and services that attract and build relationships with investors, entrepreneurs, and industry professionals to support the commercialization of UC Davis technologies, resulting in easily accessible food and health choices that support happier, healthier, longer lives for everyone.


The application process is an annual cycle, wherein applications will be selected based on the following criteria:

Executive Summary

Applicants will submit an application form, a 1-page executive summary using a form template (see attachment) that will capture the problem, technology innovation (solution), market opportunity, customer (application), team and IP strategy. The summary should also contain some information on the potential metabolic health driven product or service the proposed work may lead to.

Selection of Finalists

Initial selection process will consist of screening the submitted executive summary that meets the minimum criteria. If the project is a good fit for this award program, the applicant will receive an official invitation from Venture Catalyst to submit a pitch deck and full budget justification.

Pitch Finalists & Award Selections     

The selected applicants will be required to do a five-minute pitch presentation based on the magnitude of the problem, size of the market and impact of the proposed work will have on the progress toward commercialization. Presentations will be followed by a five-minute Q & A session. A rough template presentation will be provided.


Submit your Application Form, 1-page Executive Summary and biographical sketch for the PI and/or co-PI to You can email any questions you have to

Venture Catalyst is accepting applications for the Food Systems Innovation Award program with an application deadline of Tuesday, April 12, 2022 at 5:00 pm PDT.

If you would like to request an overview presentation and/or an information session, please email

Aspect Food Systems Innovation Award
Technology Focus Metabolic health driven products and services
IP Consideration Patent Potential
Project Budget Up to $25,000
Funding Available for 2021-22 Cycle $50,000
Download Program Materials for 2021-22 Cycle Food Systems Innovation Award Application Form
Food Systems Innovation Award RFA
Executive Summary Template