Two Chicago food startups were recently named semifinalists in the first annual Food Innovation Challenge, a startup competition to foster entrepreneurship in food innovation.

Indian as Apple Pie and Fiery Alyce were among ten semifinalists announced at a reception held on June 14 at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. 

Our goal is to help each contestant think critically about all aspects of their food innovation 

The Food Innovation Challenge gives food businesses an opportunity to build their ideas, work with mentors and industry experts, and have a chance at winning funding and services to help get their business off the ground. The challenge is sponsored by Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) and National Foodworks Services, a food incubator located in Decatur.

“Our goal now is to help each contestant think critically about all aspects of their food innovation – from the product formulation, to the ingredients they have chosen, to their target customer market and their entire business plan,” said Mark Matlock, senior vice president of food research at ADM and mentor for the challenge. “We want to help these entrepreneurs develop their ideas as much as possible in the coming weeks to see which products have true potential in the marketplace.”

On Aug. 9, the semifinalists will return to Decatur to present their business plan to judges, and the winners will be announced on Aug. 11.

The first place winner will receive $50,000 in seed funding from ADM, $50,000 in services from National Foodworks Services, and $10,000 in services from Merieux NutriSciences. Second place will receive $22,200 and third place will receive $11,200.

Here’s a look at the semifinalists:

Indian as Apple Pie (Chicago) culminates Anupy Singla’s efforts to present Indian food from an American point of view. She creates cookbooks with authentic, healthy recipes that bring traditional Indian food into the home. Singla also has her own line of Indian food products including spices, sauces, lentils and more.

Fiery Alyce (Chicago) is a hot sauce created by husband and wife team Travis Bowlby and Alyce Iversen (the sauce’s namesake). Their hot sauce is made in small batches over a wood fire and is currently available for purchase at various stores and restaurants around Chicago.

Think.Eat.Live.Foods, LLC (Wildwood, Mo.) makes their own flour and baked goods that they hope will change the way people think about gluten-free living.

Kathy’s Kitchen (Virginia, Ill.) produces a variety of homemade products, including pickles, jams, salsas and more.

Soozie’s Doozies, LLC (Union, Mo.) has created the first refrigerated cookie dough in a resealable bag, among other cookie products.

Sweet Freedom Gluten Free Bakery (New Hampton, Iowa) is a bakery that makes gluten-free baked goods that can be shipped across the Midwest.

Stuart Family Organics (Custer, Mich.) is a family-owned business producing a variety of certified organics products such as muffins and tofu cookies.

The Wiser Divider™ (Marshalltown, Iowa) wants to replace paper dividers, commonly used in frozen yogurt shops, with their edible dividers.

Yumbitz LLC (Clinton Township, Mich.) makes soft baked mini cookies that come in three varieties.

Healthy Link Imports (St. Louis)