The Next Force of Social Innovation: Reimagining the Food System
Every day, one billion people go to bed hungry, even more, are malnourished – while, on another part of the planet, one billion people wake up, fat and overfed. This disproportionate balance only indicates one aspect one of our biggest global challenges: With the world population rising, we urgently need innovative and sustainable food solutions to feed 9+ billion people by 2050.
In the face of the global food security crisis, we’re living in an age of rapid acceleration, globalization, and change. Whether it’s in the business world, society or politics – the gaps between different mindsets, opinions and lifestyles have become larger. What has become the new normal, be it polarising messaging, the ongoing gender debate or the lack of trust on social media platforms, has now, seemingly, awakened the majority of people and organizations throughout different industries – to engage for positive social change. Particularly one generation has, so far, stood out the most, not only based on their words but much more on their actions.
This generation is by far currently the largest, living on the planet. The most globally connected, tech-savvy, open-minded, and, driven to pursue a social purpose: The Millennials. Despite controversial discussions about what this generation really is all about and what not, we strongly believe in the potential of this incredible new force of innovation.
That is why we, Thought For Food (TFF) are pursuing our mission of enabling and empowering the next-generation of innovators to help feed 9+ billion people by 2050.
To solve this challenge, it needs more than just one person or organization. Hence, we’re committed to closing the gap(s) of today by creating an open space of new learnings, shared experiences, experimentation and new ways of innovation to rebuild trust and reputation. With our Global TFF Challenge, we’re calling on everyone from the age of 18-35 to create and build their own social venture as a contribution to solve the challenge of food security.
The 6 Core Attitudes of Next-Generation Innovation
The goal of the TFF Challenge is to uncover the best new ideas and approaches, and we believe that especially the Millennial and Gen Z generation are naturally hardwired with the mindset and skills required to create transformational change.
But what really is so different about this next-generation innovation approach? What we’ve found in our 12,000 large TFF Community from around 140 countries, are six core attitudes, that are not only valued by them but we, as the organization, share as well.
And let’s be clear about this: Anyone can tap into this massive opportunity, regardless of age, generation or position. All that matters is the attitude and the mindset!
With an open mind and heart, you’re able to embrace true diversity and interdisciplinary while collecting insights from anyone, anywhere, on any topic. It’s the nurturing ground for new and unexpected ideas, insights and connections.
Based on open attitude and interconnected in a digital, globalized world, anyone can collaborate on anything, anywhere and at any time. The critical element, when it comes to solving future challenges.
Some might call it youthful naivete or idealistic fantasies, however, it’s exactly the impartiality and intrinsic curiosity that triggers a lot of questions: Why? What if? What would it take? that eventually lead to new paths and opportunities.
The approach of constantly adapting, experimenting, sharing results, learning, even to extent of embracing possible failure – and then starting all over again. This approach, combined with powerful technologies and the idea of open-source democratizes and simplifies innovation to anyone.
Purpose before Paycheck
Research has shown, that the next generation is primarily driven by meaningful and purpose-driven work, as well as the ability to make an impact on higher pay. Especially today, in times where large corporates and even investment firms are emphasizing on the relevance of serving a social purpose, beyond the usual Corporate Social Responsibility program, this attitude is key when it comes to embracing human creativity and emotional intelligence in the future of work.
Ultimately, it’s what we at TFF incorporate and celebrate: the human potential to keep the dreamer in us alive! Especially today, in a world of noise and single-perspective viewpoints, we need to convey energy and optimism into everything that we do!
Bringing Transformative Ideas to Life
Based on the 6 core attitudes, we have incentivized and shared numerous, outstanding ideas and perspectives throughout the last five years, since we’ve started with our TFF Challenge. As we closely work with the Finalist teams, both one-on-one and through our open-sourced Bootcamp, we’d love to share 3 exemplary social ventures that have reached impressive results after launching with the help of TFF.
This Germany-based startup has created plantCube, a fully automated vertical farm in the size of a dishwasher. So far, they’ve raised $5 Million equity investment, have created more than 10 jobs and founded the Association for Vertical Farming e.V.
The team based out of Sweden and the Philippines created a shelf-stable food powder from unused or wasted foods. So far, they’ve secured more than $200,000 in investments and were selected as a prestigious Climate-KIC participant.
This team from Indonesia created an insect-based, sustainable alternative to palm oil and have expanded their product line further, to transform biomass from agro-industry waste streams into high-quality nutrients and organic chemicals.
The list could go on and on, as the opportunities to scaling positive impact are endless! In addition, the awareness in the food and agriculture industry towards supporting youth is rising. The latest report “Youth for Growth” by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs reveals fascinating insights the potential of youth employment and involvement of the young people between the ages of 15 and 34.
“Surging youth populations offer an opportunity for accelerated economic transformation, critical for youth livelihoods and food security, and agriculture is a key driver of this change.”
Now it’s your turn! Do you see an opportunity to positively impact the food and agriculture industry? Submit your pitch via video by 4 May! Learn more here!
If you’ll make it under the 10 Finalist Teams this year, you’ll be gifted with an 8-week long Bootcamp, supported by world-renowned mentors and leaders, to help you further develop and shape your business model!
And there’s more. All Finalists will be invited to our first-ever TFF Academy and annual TFF Global Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! This flagship event brings together all kinds of stakeholders to learn from each other, inspire and launch new ideas into the world. Ultimately, we’re all about collaborative competition and open-source innovation!
More information about Thought For Food: www.tffchallenge.com
Monika Jiang is a millennial activist driven to co-create social change and shape the future of work through innovation, cultural change & storytelling. Monika is the Program Manager Communications & Community at Thought For Food.
Also published on Medium.