FTW Ventures is a San Francisco based early-stage venture fund investing in breakthrough hardware, software, biotech and novel products for the worldwide food system. The fund seeks out exceptional startups leveraging responsible science and technology to improve the quality, access, and enjoyment of food. They advise founders along their entire startup journey- through fundraising, developing the initial product strategy, building their go-to-market plan, business development connections, and providing guidance on effective marketing.
FTW Ventures was founded by Brian Frank, a serial entrepreneur turned venture investor with prior operating and investing experience in the technology and food-tech sectors. In addition to serving as the General Partner of FTW, Brian also is the Food & Ag Tech Network Leader for Village Global, and a mentor to various accelerators and VC firms such as Techstars Farm-to-Fork Accelerator, the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, the World Food Programme, and AB InBev 100+ Sustainability Accelerator.
$70K fellowship: 1-year salary, tuition, travel, research and conference expenses (supported by the IIFH)
Full-year: Fall/Winter 2020 to Summer/Fall 2021 (flexible start date, virtual option if needed)
Eligibility: UC Davis postdoctoral fellows, or Ph.D. students in their last 1-2 years of study
Experiential Learning with Venture Capital Group: During the first quarter of the fellowship, the fellow will work with the host to evaluate startups in the food system and identify investable ventures, kicking off with an onsite residency in San Francisco, CA (up to $10Ktravel, accommodation and conference allowance provided). During the second quarter upon return to Davis, the fellow will engage in regular virtual and in-person meetings to conclude with the venture capital host.
Developing and De-risking Innovative Concept: Using the knowledge gained in the first phase of the program, fellows will have an additional two quarters on campus to conduct critical studies for de-risking a potential technology, product, or process they want to develop.
DUE Friday, July 31, 2020 – OR UNTIL FILLED.
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:
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)
Letter of interest detailing current research focus, why the program is of interest to you, and how your career goals align therewith (max. 2 pages, PDF format)
Letter of support from supervising faculty PI (max. 1 page, PDF format)
First Quarter: Experiential learning onsite with FTW Ventures in San Francisco
Start date flexible: following selection, join FTW Ventures for the first quarter in San Francisco in Fall/Winter 2020 (including $10,000 travel, accommodation and conference allowance).
Explore FTW Ventures’ strategic ecosystem and extensive network of assets in evaluating and vetting competitive 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.
Second Quarter: Transition back to UC Davis, splitting time between research and virtual engagement with FTW Ventures
At UC Davis: upon second-quarter return to Davis, continue to support FTW Ventures’ efforts in evaluating startups and selecting investable ventures that address targeted challenges in the food system.
The fellow will work closely with FTW Ventures’ staff through virtual means, but support is provided for regular in-person meetings as needed.
Third and Fourth Quarters: De-risking technology/product/process concept
Resume campus research: for the remaining two quarters, practice applying FTW Ventures learnings to conclude research activities, exploring the greatest impact and best route to market.
Enrich learning: through on-campus Entrepreneurship Academy and business plan development, identify potential investors and research the target landscape.
Support from: monthly face-to-face meetings with the IIFH (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.