By Kyeema Zerbe
The Innovation Institute for Food and Health (IIFH) at UC Davis is kicking off a uniquely open collaboration on solving critical challenges in food, agriculture and health with an open workshop Oct. 29 inviting participants from all disciplines to provide input on the institute’s strategic focus.
Food and nutrition insecurity remain serious issues for more than 50 developing countries, according to the 2015 Global Hunger Index. And even as many as 10 percent of populations in developed countries go hungry, including in the fertile lands of California’s Central Valley. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports that almost 800 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished. With the global population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, society faces an uncertain future that demands a coordinated response from all sectors to improve access to adequate nutrition.
The IIFH was launched in January 2015 as a ground-breaking academic-corporate partnership between UC Davis and founding partner Mars, Incorporated, and seeks to establish a framework for accelerating innovative solutions to implementation.
As part of an inclusive strategy designed for maximum impact, the IIFH is gearing up to welcome stakeholders from across all sectors to help set the innovation agenda. A central tenet of the proposed approach involves partnering with researchers on a series of critical questions that, if addressed, would significantly improve human welfare locally or globally. Scale-up to application can involve any number of unique collaborations and additional corporate entities.
“Nutrition insecurity is widely prevalent in both developing and developed countries. We must look at where new systems need to be built and how current systems can be improved to provide safe, sustainable and secure nutrition for all,” said Justin Siegel, IIFH acting director and assistant professor of chemistry at UC Davis. “By enabling multi-sector partnerships and uncommon collaborations, the IIIFH can accelerate research discovery from inception to wide-scale delivery and community impact.”
At the first workshop on October 29, the IIFH invites questions from academic, industry, government, and community participants on the most important challenges for the entire food, agriculture and health ecosystem. This might include: what and how crops should be grown, how should they be processed, what products should they be transformed into, how to deliver those products equitably, how to educate consumers about nutritious products, or how to evaluate product impact on human health and welfare.
These questions will be refined in targeted consultations through November, when the IIFH will transition to eliciting potential solutions. Joining with the World Food Center, Apps for Ag and The Mixing Bowl Hub on December 2 and 3, the first open Solution Summit will engage participants in developing the best collaborative answers to pressing questions.
In the New Year, IIFH will launch an open call for proposals, with the goal of initiating projects on the three broad challenges of sustainable agriculture, food safety, and nutrition for all in spring 2016. To express interest in attending a future event, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SJXS7D9.