By Kerri Crossey, Seedbed Pre-Accelerator Programme Manager
As applications open for EIT Food’s Seedbed 2020 Programme, Kerri Crossey shares some of the key challenges and innovation areas that Seedbed wants to support this year, along with pointers on what makes a good team
By 2050, we will need to feed and nourish more than 9 billion people in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. In order to meet these demands, it has been estimated that 220% more water and 43% more crop land will be required if current dietary trends continue.
However, the agri-food sector is already facing growing competition and scarcity of land, water and energy for food production which will affect our ability to produce this food.
This lack of available resources is expected to be exacerbated by climate change, where up to 40% of the world will develop unfamiliar climates with completely new combinations of temperatures and seasonality of rainfall. As a result, these changing weather patterns are expected to disrupt food availability, reduce access to food and affect food quality and safety. Where food is constrained, prices may rise and this introduces a greater risk of food fraud.
Simultaneously, around one in three people are already suffering some form of malnutrition, whether that be hunger, micronutrient deficiency, overweight or obesity, whilst 1 billion people suffer from ‘hidden hunger’.
It is evident that we need to reconsider how we produce, distribute, value and consume food. In particular, innovations in technology are forecasted to play an important role in transforming our food system and achieving global food security for future generations.
Seedbed supports entrepreneurs to develop transformative solutions for the food sector
The EIT Food Seedbed programme supports technology and business-savvy agrifood entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and early-stage startups who are looking to validate their minimum viable product and test their assumptions through a unique customer journey discovery programme.
Now open for 2020 applications, Seedbed is designed to address a number of key food system challenges that are urgently facing the global population by supporting state-of-the-art agri-food technologies across the entire food chain, from farm to fork.
These technologies should have the potential to create productive, nutritious, safe, sustainable and transparent food systems which contribute towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and teams should have a minimum viable product that is demonstrable to customers.
We’re particularly interested in the strength and experience of teams that apply, what their motivations are and how prepared they are to be an entrepreneur. A diversity of kinds of people is always a strength, as is complementary skills and a history of working together successfully.
On a practical level, applicants should not have received more than 50,000 Euros investment in relation to the development of their idea.
Hear Kerri Crossey, Seedbed Programme Manager, explain more about the programme and how it supports entrepreneurs.
The most promising areas for food system transformation
As described, in order to achieve global food security for future generations, innovations in technology will play an important role in creating more trusted, sustainable, safe and profitable food systems and businesses.
In particular, extensive data-enabled technologies are becoming more accessible and affordable - driving a revolution in how the food system operates, connecting stakeholders in the food chain and consumers in new and innovative ways to make the food chain more efficient and productive, reduce resource use and waste and open the door to new food chain collaborations and partnerships.
Although not an exhaustive list, we encourage applications that fall within one of the following areas:
- Ag-tech including Animal Health & Livestock, Soil & Crop Tech, Crop Protection & Nutrition, Water Tech
- Smart Farming including Precision Agriculture and Indoor Agriculture
- Robotics & Automation
- Farm Management Software/ Sensing/IoT
- Innovative Food Technologies including alternative/novel ingredients, Sustainable Alternatives, Waste Technologies
- Sustainable Packaging
- Personalised nutrition and consumer engagement
- Big Data & Predictive Analytics
The Seedbed team is especially excited by the solutions and rising levels of investment we’re seeing around food waste, as well as IoT and AI solutions for the agri-food sector - for instance, in solutions for smart farming.
And on a broader note, it will be great to see how the diversity and inclusion initiatives that EIT Food is supporting in entrepreneurship are translated across our portfolio of programmes into stronger teams and groundbreaking innovations.
So, what are you waiting for? Find out more about the programme here, and we look forward to seeing your applications.
Applications for Seedbed 2020 open on Monday 13th January and must be completed and submitted by Sunday 15th March 2020 at 5pm.