Home ANTBITES (Media Releases) Lion Unleashed is a new startup accelerator hunting for the best food...

Lion Unleashed is a new startup accelerator hunting for the best food and beverage entrepreneurs in the region


Lion, one of the region’s largest food and beverage companies, is today launching Lion Unleashed, a new innovation initiative that will see Lion partner with startups and entrepreneurs in the F&B space in Australia, New Zealand and beyond.

The 12 week accelerator program, designed in partnership with Australia’s foremost corporate accelerator specialist, Slingshot, will connect Lion’s market-leading brands such as XXXX, Hahn SuperDry, Dairy Farmers, Dare Iced Coffee and Steinlager, with world-class entrepreneurs to accelerate Lion’s innovation agenda.

Lion CEO Stuart Irvine said: “Lion Unleashed is an opportunity for startups and scaleups to work with Lion to unlock even more value at every stage of the value chain and bring new ideas in the food and beverage sector to life.

“Innovation has been at the heart of Lion’s 177 year success and is critical for our long term, sustainable growth.  Together with the R&D expertise of our parent company Kirin, we have a strong track record of evolving both our alcohol and dairy portfolios to meet the changing needs and tastes of consumers.

“But no one has a monopoly on great, disruptive ideas that can really challenge and grow our people and our business. Unleashed is an opportunity for us to collaborate with the best and brightest startups, who at the same time can benefit from Lion’s unique understanding of consumers across alcohol, dairy and juice, our deep manufacturing experience and potential partnership opportunities with our leading brands, including XXXX, Steinlager, Little Creatures, Dairy Farmers and Pura.”

What does Lion Unleashed have to offer?

Startups accepted into Lion Unleashed will exchange equity for up to $50,000 from the Slingshot Investment Fund. In addition, Slingshot network partners can access technology, software, hosting, office space and catering benefits valued at over $500,000, along with mentoring advice from the likes of Kate Parker, CEO of Your Tea, Alistair Venn, Managing Director of Menulog and Mark Moran, Head of Global Partnerships at LaFourchette (A Trip Advisor Company).

Karen Lawson, CEO of Slingshot said: “The F&B industry is not only critical to the economy but also a meaningful part of our daily lives. We see a massive opportunity for disruption and exciting innovation in this space and are thrilled to partner with Lion to drive collaboration between two powerful forces – a leading global business and the startup communities in Australia, New Zealand and the broader APAC region.”

“Lion Unleashed represents the first Slingshot accelerator program actively recruiting across New Zealand, which will ensure we attract the best and brightest in F&B and deliver tangible business outcomes both for Lion and the startups,” added Lawson.

Slingshot Cofounder Craig Lambert, CEO Karen Lawson, Cofounder Trent Bagnall
Slingshot Cofounder Craig Lambert, CEO Karen Lawson, Cofounder Trent Bagnall

Lion Unleashed is looking to invest in startup and scaleup innovators within the following themes:

  • Enhanced Connections– engaging consumers through technology
  • Living Well– better ingredients, better for you products, better choices
  • Limitless Experiences- pioneering real-world tech solutions and real-time experiences
  • Transform Tomorrow- value chain innovation and data analytics
  • Unleashed- to develop inspiring solutions related to all facets of the production, distribution and consumption of food and drink

Lion and Slingshot kicked off the international search for entrepreneurs on 14 June followed by a Roadshow, in which potential applicants can learn more about the program:

  • BRISBANE – 26 June at The Precinct, Fortitude Valley
  • SYDNEY – 27 June at WeWork Pyrmont
  • MELBOURNE – 28 June at Inspire9, Richmond
  • AUCKLAND – 3 July at The Icehouse

Interested parties can apply at: unleashed.lionco.com