Students in the 2018 Global Mission in front of the EU Parliament building in Bruxelles, Belgium.

Last week, the Future Food Institute kicked-off their second Global Mission with the ambitious itinerary of 12 cities in 10 countries in only 60 days. The comprehensive expedition will not only document food trends; the 20 masters students participating in this year’s mission will conduct research around four key themes: scalable sustainability and circular system; future of proteins; agro-innovation in smart cities; food care and future of food service.

Our goal at Future Food is to support talented researchers, entrepreneurs and food corporations to better understand the challenges we face with climate change, food waste, malnutrition and obesity, just to name a few, at a global scale, empowering them to identify existing solutions and shape new ones, together.

Our Global Mission program is entrepreneurial, providing hands-on experience to the future leaders of our food industry. The 20 participants are partnered with companies who are already stakeholders in the food system. Research topics are determined by the interests of our partner companies and our mission: engaging technology to build a more sustainable food system. Increasing prosperity in the developing world, a growing world population, stronger consumer engagement and awareness: these are just a few realities that are driving change in the food industry. The players along the chain have a growing need for knowledge and forecasting and we work to fill this gap.

Global Mission 2018 participants at the Remeker Cheese Company in Lunteren, Netherlands

I joined Future Food as a student of the first edition of the Food Innovation Program in 2015. With a BA and two masters in International Management from three different countries (Italy, France, Russia), I met Sara Roversi, founder of the FFI, in Bologna when she was giving a speech. During the Food Innovation Program we worked with several leaders in the food space: from Mark Post (clean meat pioneer), Caleb Harper (Director of Open Ag, MIT Media Lab), and leaders of industry including Barilla, Tetra Pak, Mars, CIR and CAMST. Together we designed new products and services, built informatics platforms and planned food hackathons. Today, my focus with FFI is opening the new base in San Francisco for our growing ecosystem. While researching at UC Davis, I opened a small FFI office in San Francisco in 2017 to share our mission with a greater global audience. I program the FFI’s Food Innovation Area at Maker Faires in different locations worldwide and work on the Internet of Food initiative at UC Davis led by Dr. Matthew Lange.

Founder of Future Food Institute, Sara Roversi, on the right

Opening an office for the FFI in the United States is proof that we believe a global presence is fundamental: we believe there is not a better place than San Francisco. One of the great American capitals of food, SF is a crucial window into new trends and innovation, a place where agricultural and technological interests are expanding, especially with the impact of climate change. In SF so far, we are designing and promoting our global educational programs, engaging with the local community and designing common activities with organisations including the Institute for the Future based in Palo Alto, an FFI partner from the beginning.

Today I embark on the Global Mission as a leader, hungry for signals and insights, running interviews, attending lectures and talks, visiting food hubs, startups and companies big and small. During the Global Mission we’ll attend seminars and lectures in several international universities, such as UC Davis (California, US), San Jose State University, IED (Madrid, Spain), Kanto Gakuen University (Tokyo, Japan). We’ll meet food accelerators including Bites and Bites (Shanghai, China), HAX (Shenzhen, China), Kitchen Town (California, US) and Food Starter (Toronto, Canada). We’ll present a food hackathon Hong Kong and participate in events with San Francisco Design Week and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. And last but not least, we’ll visit the big companies working on the food industry on the largest of scales, as well as food heroes, startups and researchers playing around food and innovation. The outcomes will take the shape as a 45 minute documentary film (take a look at last year’s preview!), public and private research and we’ll lay the groundwork for our findings to be published and distributed across our international platforms.

Follow along as we shape the future of food together.