A new collaboration between EIT Food and JA Europe is building young people’s entrepreneurial skills to transform the future of food. The Foodathon, which will coincide with UN World Food Day 2021, will bring together more than 100 students from secondary schools in Africa and Europe to come up with solutions to a range of important agri-food challenges, and generate new business ideas.
Our global food systems are at risk. The huge environmental and nutritional challenges they face require the input of all stakeholders across the food value chain. To ensure solutions to these challenges are future-proof and break away from established business as usual patterns, it is imperative we include young people in their design, as well as leverage their creativity.
The Foodathon is an intensive two-day innovation and creativity hackathon which aims to involve young people in developing solutions for key agri-food challenges, leading to the generation of new business ideas. It is organised in partnership with EUROPEN, the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment and with the support of Bayer.
During the Foodathon, more than 100 students from secondary schools across Africa and Europe will work together in teams. The students will be supported by business volunteers from EIT Food, Bayer and EUROPEN who will work with them to develop their ideas into business concepts. The students will then pitch their solutions to a jury of agri-food and innovation experts, who will select the most promising ideas. The winners will be announced on World Food Day on 15 October at a special event.
In addition to learning and reflecting upon the agri-food challenges we are facing, the young people taking part in this entrepreneurial initiative will have the opportunity to develop skills and competences which are amongst the most sought after by businesses of all sizes from all sectors, including team working, creativity, problem solving, communications and public speaking. These skills are key to move great ideas from the lab to the market and create societal impact.
“Young people need to be empowered to come forward with innovative solutions to global challenges such as the ones faced by our food systems”, said Salvatore Nigro, CEO of JA Europe. He added “I am proud we are able to bring students from Europe and Africa, who, thanks to the support of such dedicated business volunteers, will build the food systems of the future.”
Dr Andy Zynga, CEO of EIT Food said: “Young people are instrumental in shaping the future of food. In order to design the food system of tomorrow, we need to work together with those who will be most affected by the long-term impacts of these decisions. Initiatives like the Foodathon which empower young people, by building their knowledge about the challenges our food system is facing and nurturing their entrepreneurial skills, are incredibly important.”
“Ensuring access to safe and sustainable food for all and avoiding food loss and waste is high on everyone’s agenda, the younger generations have shown in recent years that it is very much on theirs as well through their increased interest in driving a sustainable and healthy future", said Francesca Stevens, Managing Director of EUROPEN. She continued: “Engaging young people in projects such as the Foodathon to inspire new solutions and bring change is crucial to support the transformation of food systems.”