Tips on how to change policy, garner public opinion, and create effective innovation from President Barack Obama

Last week we had the honor of hearing former President Barack Obama speak at the Seeds & Chips Food Tech Innovation Summit in Milan, Italy. He discussed life after presidency, his views about climate change, his plans for the future, and he stressed his confidence in the private sector in the United States, to continue to make inroads in clean energy.

The entire discussion was enriching and meaningful, however his insights, advice and tips from a policymaker’s perspective for food and agricultural startups and companies, is priceless for the people working in the industry. Obama was able to provide wise words from his experience as a community organizer and politician, about how innovative companies can get their voices heard, make their cases and ultimately effectively change our food systems. Here are some of the key takeaways:


Seeds & Chips Global Food Innovation Summit

 May 8-11

May will see one of the biggest food and ag-tech events around the world. With a special appearance by former President Barack Obama and over one hundred panelists and speakers that are prominent global entrepreneurs, investors and executive, the Seeds & Chips global food summit will be instrumental in disrupting the food tech sector, by forging new ideas, creating networks and empowering the industry. Learn more.

 

TAU Innovation Conference 

May 7-9

Tel Aviv University merges tech industries across all sectors by brining entrepreneurs, industry personal , diplomats, investors and communities to foster learning, education, investment and networking. The two day event features speakers from companies such as Youtube, Yelp and Prezi to share insights on their industry and discuss the future of technology. Learn more.


With the development of Saas Systems today we are able to monitor farmers, farms, soil, plant activity and water levels in order to understand agricultural systems in a way that we were never able to before. With the use of wireless sensors, we are able to gather data and analyze this data, in order to discover patterns that will allow farmers to make more educated decisions that will increase the output and ultimate grow a better product.

What agronomist are coining as the “third wave agricultural movement,” is  the successor of the “industrial farming” movement that relied heavily on technology and the “green revolution” that depended on pesticides and chemical fertilizers as solutions to preventing plant disease and massively increasing yields. The third revolution, coined as the “big data revolution,” focuses on gathering information from multiple farming practices, in order to create algorithms that can be utilized by different farms to create a crop yield that is both fruitful and sustainable. With this knowledge and information, farmers will be able to better predict activity in the farm and utilize methods that are not only better for their crops, but more environmentally sound.


Over the course of the last 20 years, Israel has steadily built both a culture that is driven toward technology and ingenuity. So much has technological advancements characterized the culture and economy of Israel, that it has become commonly known as Silicon Wadi where recently Israel earned the number 10 spot in Bloomberg’s Innovation Index.

Although technological advancements have modernized industries ranging from security to transportation, there is one specific field that Israel has continuously grown in: food and agricultural technology. According to Bank Leumi’s research in the industry, “Approximately $90m has been invested annually on average over the past few years in R&D, making Israel a world leader in allocation of funds for R&D in the agritech sector.” It is with this spirit and mindset, that Israel has forged a way to creating innovative and sustainable solutions to some of our greatest food dilemmas.

Here are 5 modern Israeli foodtech startups that are contributing to the foodtech industry and changing our food systems:


Future Food Summit San Francisco: March 29-30th

The first Future Food Tech San Francisco Summit will bring together investors, startups and technology companies and food manufacturers to discuss the future of food and how food tech can contribute to alleviating some of our greatest food dilemmas. This is an opportunity for food tech innovators from around the world to gather, discuss, learn and share.

 

Israel Dealmakers Summit: March 28-March 30

The Israel Dealmakers Summit is the largest event of its kind, brining more than 1,000 global corporations, investors, dealmakers and entrepreneurs from around the world together to provide an opportunity to network, gain exposure and insights from top business professionals. Speakers this year include: John Cisco, Executive Chairman of Cisco, Sue Siegel, CEO of GE Ventures and Yifat Oron, CEO of LeumiTech.


Food technology is a growing industry that might not yet be mainstream, but is definitely gaining momentum fast. The role for food technology incubators and food tech communities is to nurture new innovation and guide companies to get to the mass market. However, companies that have found viable solutions to our food dilemmas, need to understand what big companies that have the capability to produce and expose their product, are looking for.

This last week we had the pleasure of hosting Bill Aimutis, Global Director of External Innovation Intellectual Asset Management at Cargill, who gave us many insights on what big food companies are looking for and how to get their attention. Considering the fact that Cargill is one of the biggest privately owned companies in the world, generating $140 billion in revenue, operating in 70 countries, employing 150,000 people, is responsible for the distribution of some of the biggest food commodities including eggs and beef, processing grain and oil seed, and investing in innovations to streamline the food system – their opinion matters. Getting your product in front of these companies is one sure fire way to create more sustainable food systems and reach the mass market.

The External Innovations Branch at Cargill was developed two years ago because they understood the necessity of turning to food technology as a formative solution  due to changes in the world and in the market.  As Dr. Aimutus explains, as the population expands and the world become more interconnected with are experiencing what is known as VUCA. Coined by the U.S. Army, VUCA stands for vitality, uncertainty, complexity. Due the complex nature of the world, the market began looking for more transparency, sustainability and clarity. Consumers are focused on health and wellness more than ever before and today they are equipped with a lot of information.


Health and Food

When Dr. Ascher Shmulewitz decided to get into the food tech industry, he understood that the best way to ensure a healthy population,  is through the use of  preventative care. His years of experience studying medicine and his success in the biomedical technology industry, reaffirmed that proper diet is paramount for a healthy life.

The problem, however, was that the food industry was failing to provide any viable. sustainable, and healthy products to the mass market. As Dr. Shmulewitz saw it, the food industry was going in two directions- a trend toward “health” foods that often lacked in flavor and have been environmentally unsustainable, or fast and heavily processed foods that contribute to the high rate of obesity, heart disease and environmental deterioration.

Dr. Shmulewitz concluded that only way we can feed and distribute nutritious and delectable food to an expanding population, without destroying the planet would be through modern food technology. “Until now the food industry has compromised quality for quantity, more products with less nutritional value, but food tech is the only solution that can consolidate both quality and quantity, issues, providing nutritionally dense foods, to the mass market for a fair price.”

How so? Here are 5 ways modern food tech will help us become healthier:


When Jews around the world began migrating to Palestine, they found themselves in a conundrum: the arid land and the reliance on dry farming wouldn’t sufficiently feed the growing population. The lack of natural resources, meant that the pioneers would have to find industrious ways to farm the land sufficiently, without depleting the its resources.

Volcani Center logoIn an effort to resolve this dilemma, The Agricultural Experiment Station was established. In 1921 the organization developed into the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), widely known as the Volcani Center. It was within the ranks of the ARO that experimental farming methods were developed. The ARO became responsible for inventing unique irrigation strategies and developing unrivaled methods to desalinate water, a system that not only to be successful, but spread throughout farms across the world.

The ARO also became formative in developing a mixed farming method in Israel. This form of farming which was based on a strict crop rotation, allowed Israeli farmers to produce a high yield, while replenishing the soils nutrients. Due to these innovations, there was no longer a need to depend on dry farming methods and Israel was able to develop a thriving agricultural industry, which by 2012 reached $2.4 billion in exports.


Having seen the very best, the worst, and the ugliest of the food industry, Laurent Adamowicz gives a poignant account of how our food system has dramatically changed over the last two decades. Could the obesity epidemic be directly linked to what our food has been eating?

 

 

Secondary Sugar kills? Wait, secondary sugar is the one that’s hidden and added to foods you wouldn’t suspect, so kids and parents get addicted. A horrendous revelation here is that baby formula contains added sugar. Lots of it! And less lactose than breast milk. And no nutrition label requirement? You must be kidding, right?