Emerging innovative pet food and pet treat companies could get up to US$20,000 in cash and other support to get to scale faster through the Pet Care Innovation Prize.

The prize is a partnership between Nestlé Purina PetCare and two investment firms, as part of a competition to identify and support early-stage pet care companies in the growing global pet care market.

“The pet care category is growing faster than many other industries,” Jay De Long of Active Capitalsaid in a press release.

The Pet Care Innovation Prize will award up to five finalist companies US$10,000 in cash, plus immerse them in a multi-day accelerator program to get advice, mentorship and access to business partners from Nestle Purina. One grand prize winner will get additional cash, services and support to exhibit at the 2017 Global Pet Expo.

The prize competition is tailored to companies producing food, nutrition, pet care, play and tech products and services for dogs, cats and their owners. To be eligible, companies must have a market-ready product or service and apply by September 9, 2016 at www.petcareinnovationprize.com, where additional information is available.

Petfood Innovation Workshop and K-State Pet Food Experience

To learn more about innovations in pet food production, Petfood Innovation Workshop and K-State Pet Food Experience involves a hands-on learning opportunity focused on the creation of next generation pet food and pet treats using meats and novel proteins. The workshop runs from September 13-15 in Manhattan, Kansas and involves experts from Petfood Industry and Kansas State University.

Throughout the day, participants will use professional-grade equipment to mix products. They’ll be getting their hands dirty in sticky vats of meat, said Petfood Industry columnist Greg Aldrich, PhD, one of the work shops’ organizers and instructors.

“We’re trying to getting this personal, upfront, tactical experience,” said Aldrich. “This is not theory, this is application.”

Although the material will be in-depth, newcomers to the pet food industry won’t be left behind at the September workshop, said Aldrich. Start-ups and entrepreneurs can explore a product idea using professional equipment, network with their peers and meet manufacturers.