Today, Mars Petcare, a world leader in pet nutrition and health care; Michelson Found Animals Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to keeping animals in their homes, safe, protected and loved; and R/GA Ventures; the investment arm of the global agency R/GA, announce the six companies that will participate in the first cohort of the Leap Venture Studio (Leap): the first startup-centric accelerator program built to springboard innovation in the growing pet technology ecosystem.

The companies include a diverse mix of next generation entrepreneurs and startups looking to shape the future of pet care across nutrition, veterinary diagnostics, on-demand services, and medicines and supplements. The participating companies are:

  1. AnimalBiome assesses pet microbiomes and makes an oral supplement from material sourced directly from healthy cats and dogs to restore balance.
  2. CuidaMiMascota connects pet owners with trusted pet sitters that offer cage-free, safe and cost-effective care, in Latin America.
  3. Lacuna Diagnostics, Inc. is a cloud-based platform that connects veterinary hospitals to board-certified clinical pathologists for rapid diagnostic results.
  4. Mixlab is a modern veterinary compounding pharmacy that creates personalized meds and wellness products for pets.
  5. PetPlate is a subscription service that delivers fresh-cooked, vet-designed, human-grade dog food in pre-portioned, microwavable containers.
  6. Wild Earth is challenging the status quo of pet food with cultured protein that is good for your pets and the environment.

In recent years, advancements in scientific research and the development of emerging technologies have made it possible for people to advocate for their pets in new ways and help these pets live healthier, happier lives. Yet, there are very few business innovation platforms that support innovators behind these solutions in developing new market opportunities.

As leaders in the industry, Mars Petcare and Michelson Found Animals are uniquely positioned to foster innovation in this space by supporting early-stage and growth-stage companies whose products and services can have a lasting impact on pets and pet owners.

The Leap program provides the opportunity for selected companies to access strategic, financial and creative resources to accelerate product development, develop industry partnerships and refine their business plans. Customized teams of R/GA strategists, technologists, designers and consultants will collaborate with the startups to enhance their business plans and prepare them for future milestones including fundraising, pitching and business development. Additionally, the startups will receive mentorships from executives at Mars Petcare, Found Animals and their extended networks of world class advisors.

The Leap program will be hosted at the R/GA office in Portland, Ore., a city well known for its pet-friendly culture. The program will conclude in October with a demo event at which each startup will present to industry leaders, partners, investors, and customers from the technology and innovation community. If you are interested in attending the demo event, please email us at ventures@rga.com for more information.

The Leap Venture Studio is currently accepting applications for the second cohort and selection will take place in the Fall 2018. The program encourages companies innovating in pet nutrition and wellness; pet health and diagnostics; solutions/platforms/services for pet owners and pet professionals; AI and machine learning, advanced analytics; connected products and spaces; and genetics to apply throughout the year. Qualified candidates must have developed a minimum viable product. Leap is open to companies at a variety of stages, from pre-seed to seed to Series A, and business models including B2B and B2C.

For more information about Leap or to submit an application, please visit: www.leapventurestudio.com and follow #leapvs on Twitter.

About Mars Petcare 

Mars Petcare is a diverse and growing business with 75,000 Associates across 50+ countries dedicated to one purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS. With 75 years of experience, our portfolio of almost 50 brands serves the health and nutrition needs of the world’s pets – including brands PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, ROYAL CANIN®, NUTRO™, GREENIES™, SHEBA®, CESAR®, IAMS™ and EUKANUBA™ as well as The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition which has advanced research in the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. Mars Petcare is also a leading veterinary health provider through a network of over 2,000 pet hospitals including BANFIELD™, BLUEPEARL™, PET PARTNERS™, VCA™ and Linnaeus. We’re also active in innovation and technology for pets, with WISDOM PANEL™ genetic health screening and DNA testing for dogs, the WHISTLE™ GPS dog tracker, and LEAP VENTURE STUDIO accelerator and COMPANION FUND™ programs that drive innovation and disruption in the pet care industry. As a family business and guided by our principles, we are privileged with the flexibility to fight for what we believe in – and we choose to fight for: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS. For more information about Mars Petcare, please visit http://www.mars.com/global/brands/petcare. Join us on Instagram and LinkedIn.

About the Michelson Found Animals Foundation

Michelson Found Animals Foundation is a leading animal welfare non-profit organization committed to keeping pets safe at home with the pet parents who love them. With a mission of Saving Pets, Enriching Lives, Found Animals is advancing the health and safety of pets through the first free, national microchip registry, solutions-based programs addressing pet adoption, microchipping, low-cost spay neuter services and grants for research into non-surgical spay and neuter methods. The foundation provides educational resources for pet parents and support for a variety of animal welfare organizations. Generously funded by Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson, Found Animals has helped more than 1.5 million pets since it was founded in 2005. Learn more at foundanimals.org and by following @foundanimals.

About R/GA Ventures

R/GA Ventures helps industry leaders embrace disruption, connecting them with emerging startups, technologies and consumer behaviors to drive their businesses forward. Since 2013, the R/GA Ventures portfolio has grown to include more than 80 companies across a variety of verticals. R/GA Ventures and R/GA are part of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG), one of the world’s largest advertising and marketing services organizations. Learn more at ventures.rga.com and by following @rgaventures.

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