The global movement, Thought For Food, is one of the most motivated and impactful organisations on the food frontier. They also happen to be a good friend of FoodBytes! so we asked them a few questions to help our family get to know them a little better.
Here’s what they had to say on their worldwide search for the next-gen movers and shakers.
Can you tell us what Thought For Food is in a couple of sentences?
It’s a global, non-profit organisation dedicated to engaging and empowering the next generation of innovators. We aim to develop impactful start-ups and the leadership skills they’ll need to solve the complex challenges facing our food system.
What’s the most rewarding thing for start-ups participating in the Thought For Food Summit?
Thought For Food is much more than a competition. We’re a movement of friends and supporters, who want to create a positive and lasting impact in the world. It’s that closeness, connection and shared goal that distinguishes us from any other start-up competition out there.
We consider openness, collaboration, beginner’s mindset, DIY methods and purpose before pay check, the superhero skills our world needs. We focus on creating unique, shared experiences for every participant – a place where relationships are nurtured, and ideas and perspectives are exchanged openly.
This year’s TFF Summit and our first–ever TFF Academy, are melting pots of interdisciplinary thinking, bringing established and up-and-coming leaders from science, entrepreneurship, industry and policy together to co-create the future.
We hear from start-ups and industry experts every year that the most rewarding thing about TFF, is the people they get to work with and learn from – bright, passionate minds who want to develop tangible solutions and connect on a personal level. People open to sharing diverse perspectives, experiences and approaches to help transform our food system.
What’s the biggest challenge growing start-ups face and how does Thought For food help?
Start-ups face lots of challenges and barriers, particularly those led by young people and during the very early-stages. We find most teams in the social entrepreneurship space struggle to build stable, sustainable and scalable business models.
There’s quite often a mismatch between the financing requirements of food and agri start-ups and investment vehicles too. This can be linked in part to the complexities and conservative nature of the food and agricultural sector. It can take some time for transformational innovations to move from proof of concept through to consumer buy-in, and that doesn’t always align with the growth ambitions of many investors.
- We base our program on open-source principles and a culture of learning and sharing
- We provide tools and resources, such as our Design Thinking Lab and the TFF Start-up Bootcamp accelerator curriculum, to help participants build strong business models based on solid business methodologies
- We create connections with the investment community, impact and corporate investors and venture capitalists, and offer access to investment incubators and accelerator initiatives
- We provide mentorship and support on everyday business essentials like building and managing teams, dealing with regulation, developing business models and marketing and branding.
TFF has earned a reputation for being able to create a spectrum of creative solutions that encapsulates the best of our community, innovators, industry experts, mentors, coaches and likeminded partners like Rabobank’s FoodBytes!
What can you tell us about the 10 summit finalists and the food system challenges they’re tackling?
We’re really excited about this year’s 10 TFF Challenge Finalist Teams. They’ve made the shortlist having competed against 800 teams, from 160 countries and represent the very best in next-gen innovators from Australia, Brazil, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, the UK and US.
Each of the 10 teams are currently participating in our nine-week TFF Start-up Bootcamp where they will learn how to refine their business model and perfect their concept pitch, in the hope of winning up to US$25,000 in cash grants at the TFF Summit.
The ideas range from biodegradable replacement for polystyrene in food packaging made from the poultry industry’s surplus feathers and an IoT-based water quality management system for refugee camps and small holder farmers, to an AI-driven dairy management system and technology that improves grain drying and the use of fertilizers.
We even have some amazing new foods in this year’s cohort, including a nutritious, plant-based chocolate product and a naturally fortified yoghurt made from sweet potatoes!
This year’s teams are as diverse as their ideas, so we’re thrilled to be involved and helping support their journey.
Rabobank’s mission is to help feed the world sustainably by 2050. Why is Thought For Food’s work integral to that goal?
As missions go, this one is massive and very complex. That’s why we need every person and organisation to be thinking about how we get there, by working together.
TFF is all about collaboration, across disciplines, geographies and generations, so we support and complement Rabobank’s mission wholeheartedly.
We can play an important role in helping reach this goal by:
- Engaging and empowering the next-generation of innovators
- Incentivising, funding and supporting new ideas and start-ups
- Uniting diverse innovators from around the world to solve big problems
- Experimenting with open business models and collaboration approaches and
- Giving talented innovators somewhere to realise ideas and create new opportunities for the food industry
We don’t believe any one organisation can overcome the challenges faced in our shared mission on their own, so we put all our energy into building relationships and working with like-minded people and organisations like FoodBytes! to achieve a positive, sustainable contribution to the future of food and agriculture.