Our prizes are intended to help you get your pet care innovation to scale faster.

Up to five startups will be selected as Winners, each receiving a $25,000 (US Dollars) prize. One entry will receive an additional $25,000 (US Dollars) as the Grand Prize winner.

Business Acceleration “Boot Camp”
In addition to the above cash prizes, Winners will win an all-expenses-paid four-day Boot Camp for one Founder (additional Founders can attend if you cover their travel expenses) to help them refine and deliver their company’s pitch and prepare for Global Pet Expo, where they’ll exhibit and have a final pitch in front of pet industry leaders and influencers to determine the Grand Prize Winner.

Held in St. Louis, the global headquarters for Nestlé Purina, the Boot Camp sessions will include evaluation, education and mentoring from a mix of Purina and independent experts in relevant areas, and pitch coaching by world class accelerator mentors from outside industry, 9Square Ventures, Purina R&D leadership, and Active Capital. Specific areas to be addressed might include growth planning, R&D milestones, funding strategies, product-market fit, channel development, scaling operations and more.

Note that due to COVID-19 travel and safety restrictions, the in-person experience in St. Louis may be changed to something virtual or otherwise more appropriate and of similar value.

Global Pet Expo
The Grand Prize Winner and Winners will be prominently featured in a PCIP booth at Global Pet Expo, presented by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) in Orlando, Florida, courtesy of the APPA. The Grand Prize Winner and Winners will also receive travel and other assistance to prepare for and make the most of this high profile event.

Note that due to COVID-19 travel and safety restrictions, the industry wide in-person experience in Orlando may be changed to something virtual or otherwise more appropriate and of similar value.

Through press announcements during the PCIP and activities at Global Pet Expo, the Grand Prize Winner and other Winners also get the publicity and awareness early stage companies need to succeed.

The 2023 PCIP Winners will join a community of PCIP alumni, whose companies continue to grow and succeed in the pet industry. Past winners have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment, developed industry partnerships, and have offered each other the kind of peer support every entrepreneur wishes they had.

NOTE: Pet Care Innovation Prizes include responsibilities on your part. These include participation in activities by a founder able to make decisions on the company’s behalf, ability to travel to St. Louis, Missouri (for the Boot Camp) and Orlando, Florida (for Global Pet Expo), providing documentation to verify claims made in your application, and participation in publicity activities.

See above comments re: health, safety and travel restrictions re: COVID-19.

Our criteria are intended to assess whether your pet care innovation is a product/business that we can help you get to scale – and fits our strategy. We’ll be judging based on:

  • Unique, novel or differentiated product or service that solves a meaningful pet care need that improves the lives of pets.
  • Traction, such as Revenue, i.e. showing $100,000 or more in annual revenue from the product or service you’re pitching. You may annualize your last quarter’s sales.
  • That your product or service is sold to consumers or through a channel to consumers (no B2B pitches, please)
  • That you own or have transferable rights for the Intellectual Property (IP) you’re pitching
  • Have an established business entity and can do business in the United States (including traveling to the US)
  • Be willing to have us ask reasonable questions as part of due diligence to assess the strength and scalability of their business/product

Nestlé Purina believes an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem is to everyone’s benefit, and that early stage companies and established companies can both benefit from exploring ways to work together. The Pet Care Innovation Prize allows Nestlé Purina to meet and support the early stage companies that they might be working with tomorrow.

A mix of industry and entrepreneurial experts, and investors will ensure all entries qualify and meet all criteria. Finalist selection will be by a judging committee of Nestlé Purina, Active Capital and independent judges. Grand Prize selection will be by Nestlé Purina executives.

We’re looking for some things, and there are some things we are not:

Things we’re looking for: cat and dog food and treats, litter, specialty nutrition, diagnostics, and innovative pet care business opportunities beyond food and snacks to improve the health, welfare, and care of both dogs and cats. Important to us are scalability, quality, sustainability, or the application of technology and new business models to improve the lives of pets.

Products and services we’re not seeking for the Pet Care Innovation Prize: pet pharmaceuticals, premiums and gifts, kennel services, grooming services, and pet insurance services.

No! Prizes offered are just that – prizes. It is non-dilutive, and you don’t give us any equity or exclusive license to your idea. All you give us is permission to seek mutually beneficial publicity and an opportunity to explore innovation potential of your business.

The competition is open to any business entity selling products or services that meet the criteria contained in these FAQ, as long as they are willing to abide by the conditions called out in these FAQ and on the application, and they are legally able to travel and work in the US – EXCEPT employees and contractors of Nestlé Purina and/or Active Capital, and current NPPC Suppliers who are all ineligible.

This competition is being run by Active Capital, leaders in helping early stage companies grow and get investment. The prizes and other valuable industry help are provided by Nestlé Purina PetCare. For all inquiries, contact [email protected].

Key dates for the current Pet Care Innovation Prize are:

  • August 2023 – Applications open at SuperZoo
  • September 29, 2023 at midnight (PT) – Applications close
  • January 29 – February 4, 2024 – Winners attend Boot Camp in St. Louis, MO
  • March 20-23, 2024 – Winners pitch for Grand Prize at Global Pet Expo in Orlando, FL

Please don’t submit anything in the application that would put your intellectual property rights at risk. We assume that since you are currently selling this product to the public or other businesses, that an accurate description of the features and benefits will suffice to judge your entry. Please don’t enter a product/service/business for which you don’t hold Intellectual Property rights.

By entering, you and your team agree:

  • To make a single point of contact available for all communication during the application window and afterwards.
  • That all information on your application is accurate.
  • To maintain clear ownership (or right to use) of patents, copyright and other Intellectual Property (IP) used in your product or service.
  • That at least one founder is able to fully participate in the Boot Camp (February 2023) and Global Pet Expo 2023 (date TBD) (travel costs to be covered by the competition). Note that due to COVID-19 travel and safety restrictions, the in-person experiences in St. Louis and Orlando may be changed to something virtual or otherwise more appropriate and of similar value.
  • That you and your team are solely responsible for paying taxes for any prizes you may win.
  • That you will participate in publicity activities related to the competition, including supplying photos and other images of your product/service/business, making your team available for interviews as needed, etc.
  • See also the FAQ “What are the judging criteria?” for more details on what may not be eligible to win.

This competition is to find innovative pet care products and services that could use help to get to scale. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that we will ultimately find a way to work together even if your product/service is the best entry based on the above criteria. For strategic or other reasons, we may not actually end up working together.

Yes. If we receive more exciting applicants than prizes, or you have an entry that doesn’t quite make it to the finals for some reason, we may still contact you to talk more if you are open to it.

We’ve simplified the application process for the 2023 Prize. The application window closes September 29, 2023. Click here to start your free application on F6S, the startup competition platform we use to collect and evaluate applications. Note that you’ll need to create a free F6S account to apply, which can be used to apply for other startup and innovation competitions on the platform and keeps your information secure. If you feel you aren’t ready for this prize cycle, let us know you are interested in applying for future rounds by giving us your email address.

Participation in the PCI Prize and membership in PCI Network does not represent financial interest nor endorsement by Nestlé Purina in the respective companies. The Pet Care Innovation Prize and Network allows Nestlé Purina to meet and support the early stage companies that they might be working with in the future.