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Two-way inspiration: why you should become a Seedbed Mentor

20 February 2020

As applications come in for EIT Food’s Seedbed 2020, Programme Manager Kerri Crossey shares why agritech experts should lend their expertise to one of the biggest issues of our time by becoming a Seedbed mentor 

2020 is already a game-changing year for many industries. Particularly food. The ecological crisis combined with rising population levels have meant that our current food production methods are either becoming insufficient or ineffective, and the need to find alternatives is now urgent. Becoming a mentor for the Seedbed programme - which ensures you can make a big impact in a relatively small amount of time - helps to support the industry through the times ahead, championing not only the best ideas, but the best minds.

At EIT Food, we exist to bring around collaboration across the entire food system to enable us to develop innovative technologies, products and services that provide solutions for the future of food. To transform it sustainably, for the long haul.

Seedbed supports entrepreneurs to develop transformative solutions for the food sector

The traditional agri-food sector faces threats from climate change along with scarcity of land, water and energy for food production. By 2050, we will need to feed and nourish more than 9 billion people in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. To get there, we need to make use of the latest technology and data science so that we can innovate our way towards solutions.

EIT Food Seedbed is a pre-accelerator programme designed specifically to address these urgent challenges. Each year, we connect over business-savvy agrifood entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs with an early stage idea to the tools, connections, mentors and expertise that they need to test the market and validate it as fast as possible.

The programme is hosted in Northern Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Spain and Poland and takes place over a six-month period. Whilst in the programme, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs meet potential customers to test their assumptions and refine their value proposition. The end game is to move them forward with confidence in their final product pitch and be ready with a go-to-market strategy.

What can you expect from being a mentor?

As a Seedbed mentor, you’ll be playing a major role in boosting our aspiring entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs as you support them on their customer discovery journey to transform the way we produce, deliver, consume, recycle and value our food.

With one team to support over the six month period, you’ll dedicate approximately one hour per week for 1:1 mentoring. This can be face to face, by Skype, phone or email. We take care of initial training so that you can feel comfortable and validated in your leadership and communication skills before you begin. From then onwards, it’s up to you to steer.

Expect to deliver short, focussed sessions that make maximum use of your time and knowledge, with minimal disruption to your daily roles and responsibilities. And the mentor relationship doesn’t have to end when the programme does. You’ll become an integral part of their onward journey as food innovators making a difference in the world, and may even decide to explore a role in the team.

Watch our interview with Seedbed mentor Damien Jourdan

Access the European startup scene and stay on the pulse with technological changes

Becoming a Seedbed mentor delivers benefits that go beyond mentor-mentee relationship to amplify your career too. You will be invited to attend the EIT Food Venture Summit and meet professionals from all across the industry, as you become a key member of our community of startups. Placing you right at the centre of the food innovation industry gives you first-hand exposure to the future direction of food production and works to raise your profile as a leader in your sector.

With first-sight of what is coming in the agrifood industry, you can see how the latest technology and data science are going to impact you professionally, then begin to apply a fresh and forward-thinking mindset in your day-to-day role. Exposure to the startup process expands your judgement of talent and opportunities, preparing you for commercial and investment opportunities that may come out of the process.

Seedbed Mentorship is all about applying the knowledge and skills that you have acquired throughout your career to help guide the brightest minds to drive change, so that the industry as a whole can be better equipped to handle change. Mentorship completes a virtuous circle that allows your experience to keep giving back and make a positive, lasting impact in the world.

If you're interested in becoming a Seedbed mentor, email Kerri at kerri.crossey@eitfood.eu for more information.

Kerri Crossey

About The Author: Kerri Crossey

EIT Food Seedbed Pre-Accelerator Programme Manager at Queen's University Belfast

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