M&S Food

A new £1.8 million fund is searching for food and drink challenger brands to help tackle childhood obesity.

Mission Ventures has launched the Good Food Fund in partnership with Big Society Capital and Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity .

Entrepreneurial business owners are invited to apply from today (30 March) for a cut of the £1.8m Good Food Fund to join in the fight against childhood obesity. Under development for 18 months, the prototype fund will provide business support and allocate finances and help to brands committed to bringing healthier options to market. The Accelerator will be run by Mission Ventures and the Venture Capital Fund will be managed by Ascension Ventures.

The after-school snacking occasion for school children will be a key focus, with the long-term aim of transforming the options available through the support of healthier challenger brands at an affordable price point.

The cut off for applicants to the accelerator is 27 April and brands are invited to learn more about the programme and the selection criteria by visiting www.missionventures.co.uk/goodfoodfund.

Successful applicants will receive a fully-funded package of business support from Mission Ventures. This will include a rigorous business review using the company’s own MissionMap, which will assess all aspects of the business and a plan for how the product can be scaled to reach an accessible and sustainable price point. Participants can also apply for financial support in the form of equity and debt from The Good Food Fund.

The Good Food Fund is managed by early-stage Venture Capital firm, Ascension Ventures, and will offer debt and equity investments into businesses that have gone through the Accelerator, as well as other start-ups and challenger healthy snack brands keen to reduce childhood obesity. Ascension Ventures are one of the most active Seed investors in the UK and have been deploying the Fair By Design Fund (“FBD”) for two years, focused on reducing the Poverty Premium in the UK. The Ascension Ventures team will leverage the impact infrastructure they built with FBD to spearhead the Good Food Fund.

“We are excited to partner on this hugely important initiative,” said Mission Ventures CEO Paddy Willis.

“Following groundwork last year, we are ready to explore how healthier challenger brands can play their part within market-led initiatives to combat childhood obesity, especially in lower-income families. We look forward to recruiting a broad range of SME brand owners and retailers, both on local borough initiatives and at a more strategic level. Through the combination of our team’s practical experience in launching, growing and scaling successful young brands, we believe we will change the landscape of healthy snacking for children.”

Matt Towner, portfolio manager at the Charity, said: “We know that childhood obesity is an issue of inequality. The current market only caters for cheap options that are unhealthy, with healthier brands requiring customers to pay a high premium to cover costs. Our research suggests that if we increase the availability of affordable, tasty, convenient and healthier food, families on lower incomes will change their purchasing habits and benefit from healthier shopping baskets.”

Aman Johal, investment director at Big Society Capital, said: “At Big Society Capital, we believe social investment can play an important role in changing food environments for the better and we’re excited to be a part of this pioneering project.”

Ascension Ventures managing partner Jean de Fougerolles said: “When the UK comes out of COVID-19 and into a recession, funds like the Good Food Fund will play an even more relevant and crucial role by backing businesses that are solving key market failures and driving food innovations targeting low-income households across the UK.”