Earlier this year, TFF’s North America Regional Coordinator Matt Foley attended the World AgriTech & FoodTech Summit, one of the leading food and agriculture-focused conferences in United States. While there, he also took the chance to organize an informal meet-up for our local TFF Community members and alumni. Here, he shares some of the key takeaways of his time in San Francisco.

By Matt Foley

In my role as TFF Regional Coordinator, I was delighted to have the chance to attend the World AgriTech & Food Tech Summit this past March in San Francisco. The international event brought together top executives from agribusiness, solution providers, entrepreneurs and investors to discuss how innovation is disrupting the entire value chain – and the challenges and opportunities that this brings.

Topics like new breeding techniques, variable rate irrigation, spoilage bacteria, and digestive wellness may not seem immediately related – however, the industry presenters on all these topics touched on the same prevailing question: How to act upon the demand for food system change that is coming from young consumers?

It is no longer just startups that recognize the enormous opportunity that the next generation of consumers and decision-makers represent, but the larger, more-established corporates too. Some the main trends popular with young consumers are foods that are ethical and responsible, healthier and more nutritious, and of course climate-friendly. “To adapt to consumer trends, we need to be in touch with innovation,” said a Tom Mastrobuoni, Chief Financial Officer at Tyson Foods.

TFF’s Founder and CEO Christine Gould has defined a framework consisting of six key attitudes which are required to unlock the power of breakthrough innovation in food and agriculture. In my role as a TFF Regional Coordinator, I see these attitudes in action every day as new ideas and approaches are constantly emerging from within our global community.

I found it very interesting to see that the path that startups have forged in this sector are now causing international corporations to follow suit. “We realized that being transparent and open is our biggest strength,” said Peter Rahal, Founder of RxBar.

Thought For Food continues to be the leading organization focused on unleashing next-generation innovation by equipping young entrepreneurs, scientists, nutritionists and creatives around the world with the skill-set and mindset they urgently need to create change and impact.

It is encouraging to see more of the players taking notice of our innovation approaches and ideas – including at this event, where some of the most innovative companies in the world were represented.

One of the companies in attendance was 2017 TFF Runner-up Team AgroSpheres, who are creating innovative biological solutions for crop protection and enhancement.

“Thought For Food has played a key role in both my personal development as an entrepreneur as well as a serving as a launchpad for our company” – AgroSpheres COO, Payam Pourtaheri.

Transformation continues to resound through the entire food and agriculture ecosystem, and there is no doubt that this is largely due to younger generations and startups such as AgroSpheres leading the charge. Thankfully, the world’s scientific and business communities are listening to our voices, and are supporting our ideas to solve the planet’s biggest challenges. 

In photos are: Destin Betz, Founder Institute; Bret Waters, Stanford University and 4thly; Kari Matalone, Splunk; Mariliis Holmes, Finless Foods; Yan Qiao Liu, Biocaptivate; Elaine Qui, Plug and Play; Eliot Roth, Spira Inc.; Payam Pourtaheri,  Agrospheres; Kiera Havens, Pivot Bio; Vonnie Estes, Produce Marketing Association; Frederik Taarnhoj, FaunaPhotonics; Laura Lee – KWS Digital Innovation Accelerator; Zach Ellis, Ohio State University; Thomas Perachyon, Gamaya; Jordan Willis, Adobe; Ayush Gupta, Stanford University; Jade Proulx, Food Scientist and me Matt Foley, Invest Nebraska and TFF North America Regional Coordinator.