Our July event was blessed with good weather, great company, and excellent ideas, despite competition from the World Cup. We were able to open our community internationally through our partners, spreading the importance of sustainable food systems to anyone who would listen and engage. And because this event would not have worked without food, a big thanks as well to Bio Bistro for the wonderful spread.
“Basel meets Alsace: Impact Summer Party” was a great combination of fun and discussion, with conversation flowing as smoothly as the wine. The focus was not just on two regional startups and their pitches, but also on the impacts our participants make with their food choices in their own lives.
French Tech Alsace is our first partner from the far-away land of France. They brought wine, so we let them in. The government initiative aims to create strong digital innovators globally by mobilizing entrepreneurs, investors, financiers and research institutions. These French can definitely do more than pair bread with cheese.
Our second partner, the Thought For Food Foundation aims to help resolve global food security challenges by supporting the unique skills and talents of the millennial generation.
Their community of over 12’000 young change-makers in 160 countries sounds impactful. And it keeps them away from their phones.
After short presentations from our co-partners, we jumped right into startup pitching. Pitches included the overall philosophy of the startup, their sustainability component, and the functioning of the business model.
MyFood, an Alsatian startup motivated by clean agriculture, developed a smart greenhouse system based on aquaponics. That’s right, a greenhouse with fish tanks underneath. Through their specialized technology, fish discharge is used to fertilize the plants in the greenhouse organically, and owners can monitor their greenhouses from the comfort of their phones. They’ve grown their team to include not just the co-founders, but even agronomists – that’s when you know the product works. And if you don’t have the space to fit a 20m2 greenhouse in your apartment, no worries, MyFood also offers more “compact” options. Their pitch and Q&A session definitely went swimmingly.
Kreislauf, a Bernese-based startup looking to break the cycle of food waste, generated innovative solutions involving local producers, as well as totally, not at all creepy, definitely-will-sleep-at-night, mealworms. Following Swiss insect human consumption regulations, they produce both mealworm fertilizer, as well as frozen mealworms for yummy delicacies such as mealworm hummus. Order me a tub of that ASAP. And in keeping with their circular economy business model, they involve production waste as much as possible – discarded but edible carrots and breadcrumbs to feed the mealworms. They hope to expand their current line with future products, such as mealworm flour, so the cycle repeats again. Startups like this are why millennials are going to save the world.
The pitching and Q&A sessions were followed by a few rounds of speed networking, which is like speed dating, only more interesting (and available to married people). Tense debates ensued over beer vs. wine, and impact-driven questions, such as the meaning of sustainability in private life, were enthusiastically discussed. This is where the power of sustainability can really be felt – people from every industry, from theater to logistics, were present, and totally absorbed by our message. Not to be dramatic.
When all was said and done, it was time to reload. Tables were covered in “Flammekueche Swiss-style,” and conversation continued over local beer, wine, and ice cream. I always find it so motivating to hear people talk about sustainability while casually stuffing pizza in their face. Because if they’re doing it, I can certainly do it too. If you don’t leave an event full of food and inspiring dialogue, did you even attend?
Thank you to everyone who joined for this cross-border event, we hope to see all of you again in the future. After such thoughtful exchanges on the power of multiculturalism, and the importance of consciously consuming sustainable food, we hope you left optimistic about the future of our food systems.
A large circular economy-inspired round of applause to our partners, French Tech Alsace and the Thought For Food Foundation – with you, the event was able to surpass country and ideology borders successfully.