Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals, and R/GA Join Together as Leap Studios Innovation Meet Modern Consumer Needs

June 30, 2022


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More than a third of young adults became pet owners before Covid-19 struck, while another 2.1 million people got a pet during the lockdown. These pet owners are increasingly looking for effective and affordable ways to care for their furry family members but have found limited options.

This has caused consumer needs in the pet care space to grow exponentially in recent years, with pet owners more likely to cut back their spending on themselves before cutting spending on their pets. Spending more time at home also meant more bonding time with pets, strengthening the pet humanization trend and causing higher spending per pet. Pet care owners’ pockets aren’t bottomless, however, and when quality is lacking they will be less inclined to pay more. 

In response to this call to action, Leap Venture Studio, in partnership with Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals, and R/GA Ventures, will run a 12-week accelerator from September 26th to December 15th for EU startups looking to help generate modern solutions in pet care. Seeking to incubate novel solutions for growing issues in the pet care space, such as the polarization of the market and a need for more technological innovation, this program is aimed to patch existing disparities in the pet care space. 

The accelerator is focused on the European region and is looking for startups that have innovated solutions in cat healthcare, senior pet care, pet mental health, pet homelessness, ways in reducing carbon pawprint, and more. 

As a regional and hybrid program, this accelerator will bring together six companies for 12 weeks, from September 26 until its Demo Day on December 15, 2022. There will be time in London along with weekly working sessions from anywhere, so teams that are based elsewhere in Europe can also apply. The program is highly customized to the different needs of each company in the cohort, so activities and support will depend on what the individual company needs. 

​​The deadline for applications, which is this Sunday, July 3, 2022, is approaching quickly. Let’s take a look at how Leap Venture Studio will help to catalyze innovation for digital and high-tech solutions in pet care, making for the largest pet and vet care startup accelerator seen to date. 

Collaboration to Achieve Comprehensive Veterinary Care in The EU

Image Credit:, Jay Wennington 

The European pet care market was valued at $35B in 2020 and is projected to continue growing at an impressive rate. The Leap Venture Studio accelerator is therefore aimed at innovators who want to tap into this growing momentum and bring their unique and breakthrough resolutions to the table. 

As the first-ever pet care-specific startup accelerator, this year’s program is exclusively seeking European-based pet company startups for its first cohort. The accelerator represents Michelson Found Animals’ and Mars Petcare’s commitment to improving the lives of pets, their owners, and caregivers, through science, technology, and innovation. 

Pet care giants Mars Petcare and Michelson Found Animals Foundation will play an integral role in the accelerator, offering participants extensive insight into the pet care industry. 

Mars Petcare’s 100,000 Pet Care Associates have helped pets in over 130 countries, plus have supported research into the science of human-animal interaction at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, leading to the institute’s notable scientific discoveries of important advances in pet health and wellness.

Michelson Found Animals Foundation has helped more than eight million pets since it was founded in 2005. A leading animal welfare non-profit that believes people and pets are better together, it operates a range of programs including catalytic grants, impact investments, as well as education and advocacy initiatives. The ultimate mission of the foundation is to share the common goal in championing pets at every point they intersect with our society. 

“We are excited that Leap Venture Studio will now be able to bring its support network to the European market, with its huge potential for explosive growth and innovation in pet care,” said Brett Yates, CEO of Michelson Found Animals.

Fostering Innovation For The Future of Pet Care

Leap Venture Studio’s accelerator program has seen 33 companies go on to raise $170M in follow-on capital, amounting to $100M in 2021 alone. The majority of Leap Venture Studio’s startup founders identify as women or people of color from all over the EU. Previous European alumni include Barkibu (Spain), Dogo (Germany), Project Blu (UK), THE PACK (UK), and Woof Together (Greece). 

Image Credit:, Karlo Tottoc

European startups that are chosen for this accelerator will receive custom-tailored programs and mentorship to achieve their milestones, alongside $200k in funding. In addition, they are invited to an industry-specific Demo Day, which will include partners, industry leaders, and investors that can help propel them into future fundraising.

“This program will give founders at seed stage – and in some cases, pre-seed, seed+, and series A – funding, custom mentorship towards business goals, and invaluable support as they prepare for further raises,” adds Yates.

On top of the program, each founder will have the opportunity to work with R/GA’s global services team. This world-class platform will help to support the unique projects that each participant brings, working to advance their business, marketing, consumer understanding, brand positioning, and communications. 

“For each participant, R/GA Venture Studio acts as an extension of the startup’s team, with its award-winning strategists, technologists, designers, and consultants,” says Rachel Sheppard, Director of Ventures at Mars Petcare.

The combined networks and resources of R/GA, Michelson Found Animals, and Mars Petcare will make the Leap Venture Studio one of the most promising startup accelerators in the pet care industry seen to date. 

Startups interested in applying to the accelerator can do so here. The deadline for submissions is Sunday, July 3rd, 2022

Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.


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