Pet industry startups hoping to fetch ideas at Bethlehem Innovation Challenge

Stacy Wescoe//September 25, 2019

Pet industry startups hoping to fetch ideas at Bethlehem Innovation Challenge

Stacy Wescoe//September 25, 2019

The Factory founder Richard Thompson and his dog. (Photo submitted) –

With existing manufacturing facilities like PetFresh and Ocean Spray operating in the Lehigh Valley, and Keurig Dr. Pepper operations on the way, the region is fast becoming a hub for food, beverage and pet care industry manufacturing.

Pet food and pet care industry is a booming industry nationally, with growth expected to continue.

And so, The Factory, a manufacturing industry startup incubator in Bethlehem, which focuses on the food, beverage and pet care industries, is attempting to put the Lehigh Valley on the pet care industry map with an event planned for next month.

The Pet Innovation Challenge, a two-day event, is being organized in cooperation with New Hope, a promoter of natural foods expos. The event will bring thought leaders, innovators, experts and investors to Bethlehem to discuss challenges in the pet-care industry and solve them.

“What we’re trying to do here is bring together innovators and experts in the industry to share challenges they are facing and match them with solutions,” said Tara Ortiz, director of entrepreneurial engagement for The Factory.

On day one, 10 pre-selected pet health companies will kick off the event with a live pitch slam competition. The presenting brands include:

  • Animal Biome, microbiome testing and supplements for health and wellness.
  • Because Animals, a biotechnology company creating pet food made with cultured meat.
  • Chippin, the “Beyond Meat of Pet Food.”
  • Hachi Tami, a smart-cat litter box that offers early detection of chronic kidney disease.
  • Jiminy’s, dog food and treats using insect protein.
  • Maranda, veterinary-approved lab tests from home.
  • Mella Petcare, a first-generation thermometer that allows non-rectal temperature readings.
  • Obe, a patented pet health and wellness system using smart technology for personalized dog wellness and nutrition.
  • Primal Health, a patented, clinically-proven drinkable dental prebiotic.
  • Shameless Pets, the first brand to focus on upcycling within pet treats.

“These brands represent the most innovative and advanced trends in the pet health industry,” Ortiz said.

On day two the 10 pet-health brands will present their biggest challenges to the larger group, and assign attending participants to groups based on their experience and skillsets to brainstorm and collaborate on finding real-time solutions.

Awards will be given out for best ideas and best collaboration.

The top winner of the pitch slam will receive a cash prize, six months of entrepreneur services from The Factory, and a free booth at New Hope Natural Products Expo East 2020, a major natural product event.

By hosting such events, The Factory, hopes to establish the Lehigh Valley as a hub of pet, food and beverage expertise, Ortiz said.

“We have all of these experts and a good place for the creation of that hub here at The Factory,” she said.

The event will also feature a keynote address by animal health expert Dr. Katy Nelson, veterinarian and host and executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy,” who will discuss the state of the pet industry, and her work with pet-related companies from Fortune 500 corporations to pet start-ups.

The Pet Innovation Challenge will be held Oct. 2 and 3 at The Factory in Bethlehem. The limited ticket event is open to the public, all proceeds will go to the Center for Animal Health and Welfare.

For more information go to  newhope.com/petchallenge.