About Better Food Ventures

Better Food Ventures exclusively invests in entrepreneurs that leverage information and communications technology to transform the food and agriculture sectors. Established in 2013, Better Food Ventures has assembled a team of experienced international investors to identify and develop companies that can improve the performance of food and agriculture industries by harnessing the power of IT, including mobile and cloud-based computing, sensor technologies and “the internet of things”, robotics, artificial intelligence, location-identification and image recognition, massive and real-time data analytics, collaborative production and consumption, and social marketing. Information and communications technologies developed by Better Food Ventures over the last decade can now create value in vertical applications like food and agriculture. Through investment, advice and collaboration, Better Food Ventures draws on their Silicon Valley venture capital and start-up experience to add value for companies in developed countries, regardless of their stage of development. Better Food Ventures is affiliated with The Mixing Bowl, which strives to “connect people who are feeding the world with people who are changing the world through tech innovation…”


  • $70K fellowship: 1 year salary, tuition, travel and research expenses (supported by the IIFH)
  • Full year: Spring 2019 to Winter 2020 (flexible start date)
  • Eligibility: UC Davis postdoctoral fellows, or PhD students in their last 1-2 years of study
  • Engagement with venture host: The first 6 months the fellow will work with the host to evaluate startups in the food system and identify investible ventures. Kickoff with a 1 month onsite residency (up to $7.5K travel and accommodation allowance provided), followed by regular virtual and in-person meetings for the following 5 months upon return to Davis.
  • Development opportunity: Using the knowledge gained in the first portion of the program, fellows will have 6 months to conduct critical studies for de-risking a potential technology or product they want to develop.
  • DUE DECEMBER 15, 2018


Preference is given to UC Davis postdoctoral fellows and graduate students who have a strong interest in food, agriculture or health innovation. Interested candidates must complete the Innovator Fellowship application:

  1. Curriculum Vitae (PDF)
  2. Letter of interest detailing current PhD research, why the program is of interest to you, and how your career goals align there with (max. 2 pages, PDF)
  3. Letter of support from faculty PI of research project (max. 1 page, PDF)


Part One – One Month Residency in Silicon Valley at Better Food Ventures

  • Start date flexible: following selection, join Better Food Ventures for 1 month in Silicon Valley at the end of Spring 2019 (including $7,500 travel and accommodation allowance).
  • Explore Better Food Venture’s strategic ecosystem and extensive network of assets in evaluating and vetting various investment opportunities.
  • Learn what kind of companies and technologies are considered investable and engage with expert consortium members to understand opportunities in food/agriculture innovation.
  •  Gain invaluable knowledge about what investors look for in entrepreneurs.

Part Two – Application to UC Davis Activities

  • At UC Davis: for 5 months more, continue to support Better Food Ventures efforts in evaluating startups and selecting investible ventures that address selected challenges in the food system. The fellow will work closely with Better Food Ventures staff through virtual means, but support is provided for regular in-person meetings as needed.
  • Resume doctoral research: for last 6 months, practice applying Better Food Ventures learnings to concluding research activities, exploring the greatest impact and best route to market.
  • Enrich learning through on-campus Entrepreneurship Academy, business plan development, identify potential investors, and research the target landscape.
  • Supported by monthly face-to-face meetings with the Innovation Institute for Food & Health (virtual or in-person as needed).
  • In conclusion: provide a brief report on the results and impact of the fellowship, and present at the annual Innovator Summit.

Selection Criteria

The selection committee considers applications in accordance with the following criteria:

  • Graduate students or post-doctoral fellows with demonstrated interest in solving global food challenges
  • Demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship and advancing an innovative research or business concept
  • Commercial potential of concept for development
  • Relevance to hosting venture group
  • Strength of support from faculty mentor