This week, the Food SystemiCity programme gathered an interesting group of agrifood and built environment professionals and experts for a collaborative workshop. Their mission: to uncover and define potential new urban farming and food business opportunities connected to the built environment.
As science-based scenarios show, resilient and sustainable food systems will be more decentralized than today, meaning locally organized food production and distribution with more closed loops. Thus, the urban farming and nutrient cycling solutions, and digital distribution services - within the city and in reciprocity with its rural surroundings - will become the next wave of scalable global agrifood businesses.
However, the exact product and service concepts, technologies and business models for these activities are still under construction. And the development work requires bridging two industries that traditionally have had fewer joint objectives. Hence, the Food SystemiCity programme builds these bridges between the companies in the built environment and the startups with new agrifood solutions, backed up with collaboration with city officials and researchers.
This work was started in the programme’s first workshop, where the project partner Aalto steered the participants in identifying new business opportunities in the transitioning towards local food systems. The intensive three-hour session was hosted by doctoral researcher Nele Korhonen from assistant professor Saija Toivonen’s team. First the participants got to hear pitches form four startups working with novel agrifood solutions for the built environment: Arctic Farming, Vacuum Wood Tech, Blokgarden with Jalotus, and Lumi Proline. Next, researcher Kari Koppelmäki from Helsinki University introduced them to the concept of agroecological symbiosis. Then, the participants were assigned into groups with concrete ideation and concepting tasks for creating joint visions on future opportunities.
"It was important to get people from different backgrounds to meet and think about solutions together, even initially. The participants said the same and were very active", says Nele Korhonen about the workshop.
The first results of the work will be compiled into a 1.0 draft of Food SystemiCity future map of business opportunities for local agrifood business in the built environment. The map will be launched in the programme’s event Business opportunities in Food SystemiCity on the 2nd of November, followed by a match-making between companies interested in co-creating collaborative concepts and joint piloting facilitated by the programme in 2024 and 2025.
Interested to learn about the business opportunities? Want to join the programme’s next phases with your urban area or built environment development case?
If so, do attend the Business opportunities in Food SystemiCity event on the 2nd of November in Helsinki! Save the date now from 12:30 to 16:00 and subscribe to our newsletter for more details and registration in a few weeks.
…and psst we are actively seeking organizations with suitable development cases underway. If yours could be appropriate for the programme and to be introduced on stage at the event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for discussing more.
Food SystemiCity is a three-year innovation programme implemented by the University of Helsinki, Aalto university, Luke, Metropolia and VTT, and co-funded by the European Union. Its aim is to facilitate new business creation in the transition into sustainable local food systems in cities and built environments.