Hundreds of start-ups from 35 countries around the world applied to take part in Thrive, which was set up to find innovative health and food solutions in response to a growing global population and serious health issues.
Up to $5m in venture capital funding will be available to those competing in the program.
Wheyhey was established in 2013, by Damien Kennedy and Greg Duggan, as a sugar-free, high-protein healthy snacking alternative to other ice creams.
Kennedy told DairyReporter that the goals of the Thrive program were important globally.
“With feeding people for the next 20 to 30 years, diabetes, obesity, and all these health crises, we need to start tackling these with actual food as opposed to medication, which is why a lot of tech companies in Silicon Valley are looking into food and seeing how we can crack these health issues.”
Wheyhey can make a difference
He said that Wheyhey was a perfect vehicle for making a difference, and those involved with Thrive saw the relevance.
“In terms of the nutritional profile of the ice cream, it's good for you, it's not just a healthy alternative, there's zero impact on your blood sugar levels, there's 20g of protein, it tastes great, so they got it, and they see it as giving a real alternative to eating high-sugar, high-fat.
“We use whey protein isolate, we use xylitol as a sweetener, we've taken out quite a lot of the fat and the cream and replaced it with what we would deem is a more nutritionally dense material.
“We've got four flavors, and are launching another flavor later this year.”
US market potential
Kennedy said that involvement in the program will translate to entering the US market.
“As part of it, we will have an opportunity to do something in the US market, the timelines we're unsure of just yet as we've just been announced as one of the finalists,” Kennedy said.
He added that Wheyhey has already started the process of “some incredible innovation in the next two years that have never been done before in the food space.
“We know where we need to get to in the next five years. We want to build an incredible British food brand over the next 15 to 20 years. We want to look back on this and say this is a Red Bull type brand.”
Wheyhey is currently stocked by retailers across the UK and Europe such as Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods, Odeon Cinemas, GNC, Ocado and Muscle Food as well as in UK health clubs. The brand also supplies UK foodservice providers.
From spring 2016 Wheyhey will be available from two national grocery retailers in the UK.
The 12 Thrive finalists:
- Acuity Agriculture - Connected sensors for farms
- Agribody Technologies - Yield-enhancing genetic technology
- AGVOICE - Voice-interactive, hands-free data service for Ag professionals on-the-go
- Edyn - Smart soil sensors and irrigation controllers for agriculture and gardening
- Food Origins - Precision harvest data to high value hand crops
- GeoVisual Analytics - Machine Learning-based platform to rapidly analyze crop imagery from drones
- Inteligistics - Wireless temperature visibility solutions for food products
- MagGrow - Magnetic spraying technology
- Soliculture - Greenhouse integrated photovoltaics for combined power & agriculture
- specright - Packaging management
- Trace Genomics - Genomics diagnostics for soilborne diseases & early disease risk prediction
- Wheyhey - High protein, sugar-free ice cream