Nowadays Wins North American Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge Aimed at Bringing Plant-Based Protein Concepts to Market Faster

Minneapolis, MN, Nov 18, 2021 – Startup company Nowadays has been chosen winner of Scale It Up!, an innovation challenge with the goal of helping plant-based protein start-ups accelerate bringing their products to market. The challenge included more than 130 people from 22 companies competing in a six-month long contest. Nowadays will continue to work with Bühler, Cargill, Givaudan, and PURIS, the four sponsor companies of the challenge, to accelerate product development and scale up production for a plant-based protein alternative with a taste and texture similar to poultry.

“Winning the Scale It Up Innovation Challenge means everything to me personally, and to Nowadays as a business,” said Max Elder, CEO and co-founder of Nowadays. “It’s an incredible validator of the hard work we’re doing and it’s an amazing opportunity to access really unparalleled resources, expertise, and technological capabilities to help our business to scale.”

Nowadays is creating large, label-friendly, full cuts of alternative protein that resemble the taste, appearance, and mouth feel of poultry when rehydrated. Using sustainable pea protein and produced via dry extrusion, their chicken-like full cuts would have a two-year shelf life at ambient temperature and would be comparatively priced to poultry counterparts.

As first place finisher, Nowadays will receive six months of mentorship from the partner companies, which amounts to more than $100k in technical expertise and access to state-of-the-art testing facilities.

Plant Ranch was selected as first runner-up for their line of Mexican-flavored, sustainable plant-based proteins. They will receive three months of mentorship from the partner company of their choice.

“This is a great chance for us to work, not just on flavorings or proteins, but really focus on the technologies that will help build up our company,” said Gary Huerta, CEO, Plant Ranch Foods. “This is a prime opportunity to work with people that have so much more expertise than we do.”

Plant Ranch is combining the authentic flavors of Mexico with plant-based proteins for a healthy dining experience. With products already in retail on a small scale, they are developing additional SKUs, including gluten-free options. Plant Ranch believes their products offer a real Mexican food experience on par with dishes served by Latin American families.

“The passion and drive these contestants have for helping find solutions to feeding a growing population was admirable, which made selecting the winner and runner-up from even the top-five group a challenge in itself, said Ian Roberts, Chief Technology Officer at Bühler Group. “I hope others are inspired by this challenge, and we see more acceleration of these innovators.”

Based on the success of the Scale It Up Innovation Challenge, the four companies spearheading the unique challenge intend to expand it beyond North America in the coming months, starting with Europe. “This platform makes a lot of sense for start-ups that have a very good proof of concept but lack the resources to clear that last hurdle before going to market,” said Julie Mann, Chief Innovation Officer, PURIS Holdings.

To learn more about the Scale It Up Innovation Challenge, visit

About Bühler
Bühler is driven by its purpose of creating innovations for a better world, balancing the needs of economy, humanity, and nature. As a relevant solution partner for the food and mobility industries, Bühler is committed to reduce energy, waste, and water in its customers’ value chains by 50% by 2025. Billions of people come into contact with Bühler technologies as they cover their basic needs for food and mobility every day. Two billion people each day enjoy foods produced on Bühler equipment; and one billion people travel in vehicles manufactured using parts produced with Bühler technology. Countless people wear eyeglasses, use smart phones, and read newspapers and magazines – all of which depend on Bühler process technologies and solutions. Having this global relevance, Bühler is in a unique position to turn today’s global challenges into sustainable business. Bühler contributes to safely feeding the world and is doing its part to protect the climate, producing solutions that make cars, buildings, and machinery more energy efficient.

Bühler invests up to 5% of turnover into research and development. In 2020, some 12,500 employees generated a turnover of CHF 2.7 billion. As a Swiss family-owned company, Bühler is active in 140 countries around the world and operates a global network of 100 service stations, 33 manufacturing sites, and application and training centers in 24 locations.

The winner: Nowadays CEO and co-founder Max Elder with Julie Mann, Chief Innovation Officer, PURIS Holdings
The first runner-up: The Plant Ranch team with their CEO Gary Huerta and Julie Mann.
Scale It Up Innovation Challenge poster