What was your motivation for supporting and promoting the FoodSeed program?
FoodSeed is a critically important program for the Foundation, on which we have been working for over a year. This initiative aligns with the three strategic objectives that have been guiding our actions since 2020: environmental protection, the development of human capital and youth leadership, and social innovation. We decided to launch this project to generate a positive impact in a sector vital to the well-being of our communities.
The establishment of FoodSeed within the Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub is the result of a rather lengthy and complex operation. First and foremost, we assessed the presence of an attractive and interesting ecosystem for the agri-food sector. We then proceeded to identify an operational partner specialised in this field and to secure accreditation from institutional investors. Following this phase, we organised different strategic meetings with industrial sponsors, research centres, institutions, universities, and more. It was an arduous effort that yielded the desired outcomes: the Foundation not only played a key role in initiating the process but also facilitated the establishment of partnerships among all the involved parties.
What challenges do you think emerging startups in the Italian agri-food industry need to face now?
The agri-food sector is called upon to address crucial challenges that determine the future of the planet, not only on a global level but also locally. Research and development activities in this field are essential to combat phenomena such as food insecurity, ensuring the right to food for a global population set to increase from 8 to 10 billion within the span of three decades. Innovation is also the only viable path to find solutions to the climate crisis and its dramatic consequences, from droughts to extreme weather events, rising sea levels to temperature increases. These are issues often perceived as distant and remote, but they actually impact the lives of every community. I am convinced that FoodSeed will contribute to bringing forth ambitious and valuable ideas capable of addressing these urgent and complex matters.
What are the main opportunities you identify for startups in the food innovation field?
The agri-food supply chain represents the country’s primary great asset, not only in terms of economic and occupational factors, but also as a driving force for the “Made in Italy” concept and as an image of Italy worldwide. The startups involved in FoodSeed will have the opportunity to address the significant challenges of our time while simultaneously embarking on paths of professional and economic growth with positive impacts on the entire national system.
The selected startups will be able to draw from a vast system of traditions, knowledge, and expertise. Nowadays, this system calls for further enhancement and renewal to continue playing a leading role on the international stage. For a startup, entering an acceleration program like FoodSeed means having the chance to transform ideas and projects into services and products, contributing to the writing of a new chapter in a story defined by excellence, much like Italy’s.