Strategic Partnership

StartLife and Catalyze: non-dilutive funding strategy for impactful agrifoodtech startups

In February 2020, Catalyze formed a new strategic partnership with agrifoodtech accelerator StartLife, as a means of helping innovative agrifoodtech startups establish a long-term non-dilutive funding strategy. Such strategy is essential, especially for companies in the agrifoodtech industry. After well over a year of partnership, we hear from StartLife’s Program Director, Loet Rammelsberg, on how Catalyze has added value to the development of its startups.

StartLife: Agrifoodtech startup accelerator

For those who do not yet know, StartLife is Europe’s longest running and leading agrifoodtech accelerator. The accelerator, that is co-founded by Wageningen University and Research and based on Wageningen Campus, has a sharp focus on founding and growing impact-driven startups in the agri-, food, and bioeconomy (AFB) industry. For over 10 years they have supported more than 300 startups developing relevant technologies in this field.

Of course, companies at this early stage face many challenges. StartLife helps startup founders to overcome many of these challenges by providing business development support, individual coaching and mentoring and access to a global network of investors, corporates and scientists. To help spur the enhancement and growth of startups, StartLife connects founders to organizations that are best of industry in various fields, among which is Catalyze.

Collaborating with Catalyze

One of the major challenges for startups is attracting funding. Next to venture capital, grants and subsidies offer great funding opportunities for startups. But as with venture capital, it requires knowledge and skills to find and successfully obtain non-dilutive funding.

Before collaborating with Catalyze, StartLife referred their members to a range of sources on where to find non-dilutive funding. Over the past year StartLife startups have instead had direct access to such knowledge, with Catalyze now filling this role as a partner, imparting over 10 years’ experience in the procurement of non-dilutive funding.

Loet describes the benefit of this expertise, “It is really helpful to work together with Catalyze. The people of Catalyze have demonstrated that they truly excel in the field of non-dilutive funding. They not only identify the most recent calls that are coming, but also know how to develop a smart and targeted non-dilutive funding strategy for which they provide strategic consultancy. Some of our startup alumni are able to leverage this to the extent that they attract one euro of non-dilutive funding for every euro of private capital they attract.”

StartLife Loet Rammelsberg

Pictured: Loet Rammelsberg, StartLife Program Director.

StartLife’s partnerships form an ideal acceleratory ecosystem

Through their extensive array of external corporate partners, StartLife brings their startups into contact with potential partners that can help with early difficulties such as commercial scaling and issues finding funding. The collaboration with Catalyze synergistically breaks barriers to funding for StartLife’s startups, while building new relationships and opportunities where Catalyze can provide further support.

When highlighting Catalyze’s approach, Loet says, “Catalyze has an entrepreneurial mindset, which is really needed when working together with startups. In addition, Catalyze also has an extensive background in life sciences, which provides many valuable perspectives for the AFB. They have consultants who are experienced in both the life sciences and AFB, and some ventures are actually coming from agrifoodtech towards life science, or the other way around. This makes the crossover very helpful in supporting these types of companies.”

Accelerating agrifoodtech innovations one startup at a time

As new cohorts come twice a year, often with 8-10 startups, there lies significant potential for Catalyze to share its knowledge. Catalyze provides this input through workshops and one-to-one meetings with StartLife’s new members.

“In every cohort, we invite Catalyze to give a workshop specifically on non-dilutive funding, and then often on the strategy, highlighting interesting goals to the startups.” Loet says, “For example, Eurostars is an interesting subsidy program for almost every startup. So we invite Catalyze to give a workshop on how to utilize this program. We also invite them for one-to-one meetings to dive into the case of each individual startup for 20-30 minutes, just to get to know each other. These short meetings often bring already many new insights to the startups.”

The cohorts’ progress is then monitored to identify startups that could benefit from accessing further support from Catalyze.

Calling innovators in the AFB industry

For hopeful early-stage innovators in the AFB industry, StartLife presents a golden opportunity to access a stimulative, knowledge-rich environment. In addition to the corporate partners involved, StartLife has strong ties to Wageningen University & Research and can help startups to establish important new relationships.


Learn more about StartLife: visit their website

Learn more about Catalyze’s Strategic Funding Advice and Funding Application services





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