FoodShot Global today launches a new investment platform aimed at accelerating food system transformation through an annual challenge — a call for “Moonshots for Better Food” that will create a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable food system worldwide.
FoodShot is a nonprofit, global consortium of mission-aligned venture funds, banks, corporations, universities and foundations. A combination of equity and debt funding will be awarded to innovative businesses, while a GroundBreaker Prize of more than $500,000 in philanthropic capital will be awarded to researchers, social entrepreneurs and advocates.
“As we strive to feed a growing population while protecting the planet, a perfect storm has emerged, creating an urgent need for change. But no one fund, bank, company, foundation or university can solve global food system issues alone,” said Victor Friedberg, founder and chairman of FoodShot Global. “FoodShot’s goal is to accelerate change through a uniquely collaborative effort among investors, innovators and industry.”
Each year, FoodShot will issue a global call focused on a critically important challenge within the food and agriculture space; entities with the most promise to rapidly catalyze solutions to the challenge will be selected to receive funding through FoodShot’s integrated capital platform. Today, FoodShot announced that the focus of its inaugural challenge will be Innovating Soil 3.0 — a search for projects and ideas that utilize the latest in technology, science and engineering to address the crisis of soil deterioration.
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“The deterioration of soil is one of the most pressing global crises for humanity affecting health, environment and geopolitical security,” Friedberg said. “There is an urgent need to shift global agriculture production systems from extractive to restorative practices and establish soil as the foundation for the 21st-century food system."
Through Innovating Soil 3.0, FoodShot Global aims to identify breakthrough solutions that create a new soil operating system. Though soil began as a mixture of organic matter and minerals that enabled agriculture to take root (Soil 1.0), the advent of synthetic fertilizers and industrialized farming created a soil system (Soil 2.0) that improved global food security but wasn't designed to maintain soil nutrient integrity, resulting in yields that have not continued to increase at the rate needed to meet the demands of a growing global population and a resource-constrained planet. A new soil system, Soil 3.0, is essential to nourish and sustain the planet as a whole. Focus areas for the Challenge can include input efficiency, reduced deforestation, improved crop resistance and carbon sequestration. To develop a 21st-century soil operating system, FoodShot is seeking innovators tapping into advances in biology, genetics and chemistry; and solutions that lean on big data, smart sensors, blockchain and robotics to set the framework for a global food system that can sustainably and equitably produce healthy food for all.
“All too often, important work is done in silos that fail to leverage collective brain power, financing and capacities for scaling,” said Rajiv Singh, former CEO of Rabobank North America and co-chairman of FoodShot Global. “FoodShot turns that archetype on its head, bringing together a breadth of partners that, collectively, can better cultivate innovation for the longer time horizon needed to truly revolutionize food and agricultural systems.”
FoodShot’s hybrid capital model is designed to meet the needs of innovators in the global food sector, whose ideas can require a longer life cycle and investment time horizon to be truly transformative. In addition to a variety of funding types, Challenge winners will also have access to a supportive partner network that provides guidance, mentorship and capacity-building resources for maximum impact and scale. FoodShot partners include Rabobank, Generation Investment Management, Mars Edge, UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Builders Initiative, Armonia, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, ACRE, The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and the Soil Health Institute.
“Achieving systemic change in the global food system means taking big risks — approaches that are radically new, not just incrementally better,” said Sara Eckhouse, FoodShot’s executive director. “We’re looking for those bold ideas, innovative companies and groundbreaking organizations that can shift the paradigm.”
First-round applications and nominations for those entities taking moonshots for Innovating Soil 3.0 are due December 1, 2018 and can be submitted at www.foodshot.org. Winning for-profit businesses will receive debt and/or equity financing; while a top researcher, social entrepreneur and/or advocate will be awarded the Groundbreaker Prize of over $500,000. Applicants will be judged on key criteria, including alignment with the FoodShot mission and Challenge focus, global relevance, scalability and ability to make an accelerated impact for systemic change.