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Source: Plug and Play Topeka news release

Topeka, KS - Plug and Play Topeka, a global innovation platform and accelerator, announced today that Cargill Inc. will partner with startup StenCo LLC, a company specializing in sustainable and biodegradable packaging. Through the partnership, StenCo will create an oxygen-excluding, biodegradable barrier for a range of Cargill products.

StenCo is a recent graduate of the Plug and Play Topeka accelerator, while Cargill is one of the three founding partners of the program.

"Cargill is focused on exploring the many advances in science and technology that enable the development of new products, ways of working and solutions for our customers," said Florian Schattenmann, Cargill's chief technology officer and vice president of research and development. "We are excited to partner our R&D capabilities with StenCo's team of innovators, with the goal of jointly bringing cost-efficient, sustainable innovations to market."

This partnership will incubate global innovation around sustainable packaging, specifically by addressing challenges that other packaging solutions can't, such as the ability to create biodegradable packaging for products with high water contents. Cargill's global reach will help StenCo enter new geographic locations, find new customers and grow. Cargill will bring scale, a broad expertise and the strength of a global supply chain.

"It's exciting to see this partnership come to fruition, as it represents the power of our Topeka accelerator," said Lindsay Lebahn, program manager for Plug and Play Topeka. "Seeing our corporate partners want to engage at this level with the program's participating startups is exactly why we do what we do. It points to the quality of startups we're bringing to the area, and to the innovative ideas and products each one brings to the table. We hope this is just the beginning of many more strategic partnerships to come."

The Plug and Play Topeka program aims to facilitate opportunities for pilot programs, proof of concept (POCs), and new relationships between each selected batch of startups and Plug and Play's global ecosystem. Plug and Play Topeka selected StenCo as part of its first batch of startups in April 2021.

"StenCo's mission is to create packaging materials that are better for the environment, focusing on affordability and sustainability while protecting the products of world-class consumer brands like Cargill," said John Brown, CEO of StenCo. "We greatly look forward to working closely with Cargill's industry-leading R&D and technology teams to create an oxygen-excluding, biodegradable barrier for Cargill's packaging materials. Working with Plug and Play, GO Topeka and Cargill has been an exceptional experience, and we are extremely excited to develop the partnership further."

"Sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction are top priorities for Cargill, customers and consumers," said Heather Tansey, Cargill's vice president of environmental sustainability. "We are committed to collaboration across our complete supply chain to address sustainability challenges, including packaging innovations and materials-use reduction. Early-stage partnerships such as this enable Cargill to explore and support potential industry-changing efforts."

The Plug and Play Topeka startups go through three-month-long accelerator programs aimed at helping the businesses get off the ground. Such programs provide mentorship, resources and office space, and there is a 70% average success rate for companies that go through a Plug and Play accelerator program, measured in follow-on capital raised.

"Partnerships like these are precisely why GO Topeka is proud to have the Plug and Play animal health accelerator in our city," said Molly Howey, president of GO Topeka. "StenCo represents the future of sustainable packaging, and their innovative processes are going to elevate Cargill's ability to address supply chain sustainability issues. We look forward to working with the StenCo team to continue showing them our community's value as they grow and expand in the years to come."

Corporations and startups interested in Plug and Play's Animal Health and Agtech Program in Topeka can apply here:

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