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Innovation in Food Security Venture Creation Weekend, Mar 2018

Back to Past VCWs

food security

This Venture Creation Weekend (VCW) is for students, postdocs, professional and researchers working on emerging technologies and innovations in Food Security who are interested in learning how to translate their ideas into ventures as part of a startup team.

Why we are doing this Venture Creation Weekend?

Our current food system is under pressure to change. While one in eight people suffers from malnutrition, one third of the food produced in the world goes to waste. Meanwhile, the population continues to increase and the climate conditions for crop plants are changing.

Food Security, as explained by the World Food Programme, is about the “availability and adequate access at all times to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. In practice this means that a vast range of parties are stakeholders. It ranges from those creating policies to those researching and creating the latest biotechnology in labs to entrepreneurs creating innovative ventures which tackle the wide range of problems facing the world.

The Entrepreneurship Centre is working in partnership with the Cambridge Food Security Forum to offer aspiring entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers the chance to explore opportunities, ideas and applications in Food Security.

For this Venture Creation Weekend we recommend that participants focus on five key areas of Food Security:

  • Supply chain management
  • Nutrition
  • Food waste
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Food biotechnology

Why attend a Food Security VCW?

It’s a chance to create, test and validate your food security venture idea or application with industry experts. You can get inspiration from your peers and mentors, learn the basics of building a business and how to collaborate with others in a team environment. Some of you can go ‘founder-dating’, i.e. use the weekend to match up with one or more co-founders for your business. All participants will work together in teams on customer development, business models, pitching practice and building product prototypes (where appropriate). The most popular ideas are pitched to a panel of judges formed of industry leaders and investors who can provide expert feedback and analysis.

At the end of the VCW, you will have developed your entrepreneurial skills, kick-started your venture, enjoyed the buzz of exploring and creating ideas; and potentially be ready to launch your business together with a talented team.

In addition, one or more of the participating teams will be invited for an interview to join our Accelerate Cambridge incubator programme delivered by the CJBS Entrepreneurship Centre. Please note that successful application is dependent on whether the team meets the selection criteria.

What is the VCW like?

Watch our video including views and comments from participants of the DisruptEd VCW – Exploring Emerging Technology for Education, March 2017.

The weekend was absolutely great. One’s creativity muscle is really being challenged in a weekend like this, with the high pace and pressure. The mentors and facilitators where amazing.
Thomas Christensen, Student, Copenhagen Business Academy, DisruptEd VCW, March 2017

When is it?

The Food Security Venture Creation Weekend will take place on 23-25 March 2018 at Cambridge Judge Business School.

in partnership with

Cambridge Food Security Forum logo

Innovation in food security

Bethan Manley of the Department of Plant Sciences explains why startups and researchers should contribute to pursuing a more sustainable future for the food industry.

Read Bethan’s blog post

Contact us

Email: [email protected]
Tel: +44 (0)1223 760959

Friday 23 March 2018

16:30-17:00 Registration at Cambridge Judge Business School Foyer, CJBS
17:00-17:45 Guest Speaker Talk: John Ingram, Environmental Change Institute, The University of Oxford Foyer, CJBS
18:00-19:00 Buffet Dinner & Networking Royal Cambridge Hotel
19:05-19:10 Welcome & introduction, Hanadi Jabado, EC LT1
19:10-19:20 Welcome from Partners: Cambridge Food Security Forum LT1
19:20-20:00 Half-Baked session LT1
20:00-20:30 Pitch your idea LT1
20:30-20:45 Vote for your favourite ideas LT1
20:45-21:00 Team building LT1
21:00-23:00 Teams work on their ideas Break out rooms

Saturday 24 March 2018

08:30-09:00 Arrival and refreshments; Sign up for mentoring sessions Common Room, CJBS
09:00-09:40 Business Model Canvas presentation, Hanadi Jabado LT3
09:40-10:10 Frugal Innovation, Professor Jaideep Prabhu LT3
10:10-11:00 Teams work on their ideas Break out spaces
11:00-11:30 Tea / Coffee break and Sign up for mentoring sessions Foyer, CJBS
11:30-13:00 Teams work on their ideas Break out spaces
13:00-13:40 Sandwich Lunch Common Room, CJBS
13:40-14:00 Teams check-in, report progress and call for help Common Room, CJBS
14:00-15:30 Mentoring 4th/6th floor pods
15:30-16:00 Tea / Coffee break Common Room, CJBS
16:00-18:00 Mentoring 4th/6th floor pods
18:15-19:15 Beer and Pizza / Startups stalls and exhibition Common Room, CJBS
19:15-19:45 Teams check-in, report progress and call for help Foyer, CJBS
19:45-23:00 Teams work on their ideas Break out spaces

Sunday 25 March 2018

08:30-09:00 Arrival and breakfast refreshments Common Room, CJBS
09:00-09:30 How to pitch your idea, Hanadi Jabado LT3
09:30-10:00 Teams work on their ideas / prepare for mentoring Break out spaces
10:00-11:00 Mentoring 4th/6th floor pods
11:00-11:30 Tea / Coffee available Common room
11:30-13:00 Mentoring 4th/6th floor pods
13:00-14:00 Sandwich Lunch Common room
14:00-16:00 Teams finalise presentations Break out spaces
15:30-16:00 Tea / Coffee available Common Room
16:15-16:30 All presentations should be submitted and uploaded on PC LT3
16:30-18:15 Final Presentations LT3
18:15-18:30 Break and Judging  
18:30-18:40 Winners announced and Awards presented LT3
18:40-18:50 Closure LT3
18:50-21:00 Closing Dinner Royal Cambridge Hotel

Keynote speaker

John Ingram

John Ingram

Food Systems Programme Leader, Environmental Change Institute, The University of Oxford

Dr John Ingram’s interests are in the conceptual framing of food systems; the interactions among the many actors involved and their varied activities, and the outcomes of their activities for food security, livelihoods and environment; and food system resilience. 

He has designed and led regional food system research projects in Europe, south Asia, southern Africa and the Caribbean and has conceived, developed and led a range of major international research initiatives. 

He has had substantial interaction with FAO, UNEP and CGIAR and many other international organisations, with national departments and agencies, with NGOs, and with businesses in the food sector helping to establish research on the links between food security and environment through the analysis of food systems. 

In addition to leading the food system research group within ECI, he also leads the multi-university post-graduate food systems training programme (IFSTAL) and coordinates the UK Global Food Security programme ‘Resilience of the UK Food System’. He is an Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow at Somerville College.


Jaideep Prabhu

Jaideep Prabhu

Professor of Marketing, Cambridge Judge Business School

Professor Jaideep Prabhu researches international business, marketing, strategy and innovation. His specific interests include: cross-national issues concerning the antecedents and consequences of radical innovation in high-technology contexts such as banking, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; the role of firm culture in driving innovation in firms across nations; how multinational firms organise their innovation activities worldwide; the forces that drive R&D location decisions and the factors that influence the performance implications of these decisions; the internationalisation of firms from emerging markets; and innovation in emerging markets.


Charlie Hancock

Charlie Hancock

Founder, Capital Agri International

Charlie Hancock, an experienced farm manager and director, founded Capital Agri International to partner and support entrepreneurs, operators and investors leveraging his ‘boots on the ground expertise’ to facilitate agri-investments. A natural communicator with a “second is nowhere” mindset, he has the ability to ‘parachute’ into any farming environment, quickly assess on the ground operations to deliver ground-up appraisals, strategic advice and due diligence, using it to accelerate improved business performance and results. Currently working on projects in Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Nigeria as well linking growth capital to a UK agritech business.

Angela Karp

Angela Karp

Director for Science Innovation, Engagement & Partnerships, Rothamsted Research

Angela is Director for Science Innovation, Engagement & Partnerships at Rothamsted Research. She is leading the institute’s overall strategy on external engagement and partnerships, and is developing new mechanisms for collaborative innovation, including a new accelerator initiative (AgRIA) to co-develop innovative solutions with businesses to challenges in agri-food.

Angela has more than 35 years’ experience in crop genetics and breeding for food and bio-renewables. Her recent research career focused on optimising the sustainable yield and composition of perennial biomass crops (especially willows) for bioenergy, biofuels and other industrial products, under low-input arable systems.

She has more than 130 refereed publications, co-authored a textbook on genetics, and is co-editor of books on genetics and bioenergy. In 2007, she received the Royal Agricultural Society of England Research Medal and, in 2008, the Alfred-Toepfer Prize for her research achievements.

Luke McKeever

Luke McKeever

CEO, Neighbourly & Angel Investor

Luke is CEO at, an award-winning social platform that helps leading, purposeful brands like M&S, Starbucks, Heineken, Danone and Lidl to donate funds, time and surplus food to charities and causes that need it most. Luke led his previous two software businesses to successful exits, building on his extensive experience in international business growth strategies, M&A, sales and channel development, operational leadership and marketing.

He has a number of active Angel investments in early-stage companies and also advises software startups on growth strategies; these include Kintell, a software startup serving the home care market, and Zedsen, a patented sensor technology designed to detect serious illnesses without intrusion. Luke is also a Non-executive Director of Metia Group, a multinational digital marketing agency. In his spare time he enjoys travelling with his family, cycling and watching his beloved football team Manchester United put in sub-par performances.

Dora Pereira

Dora Pereira

Principal Investigator in Global Health & Nutrition

Dr Dora Pereira is Research Group Leader at the Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge and a Principal Investigator with the MRC Unit The Gambia. Dora holds an MEng (Hons) in Biochemical Engineering from Técnico Lisboa (Portugal) and a PhD in Food and Nutritional Sciences from the University of Reading (UK). Prior to her PhD she worked for two years as an R&D bioprocess engineer in the pharmaceutical industry. She joined the University of Cambridge in April 2016 after spending 12 years as an investigator with the MRC Human Nutrition Research Unit in Cambridge.

Her main research area is international nutrition and global health, particularly concerning micronutrient deficiencies. She conducts pre-clinical and clinical studies focusing on: (1) the risk-benefit balance of iron supplementation and iron deficiency in Sub-Saharan Africa and (2) the interaction between iron nutrition, the gut microbiome and enteric pathogens.

In 2014, she was awarded the first prize at the RSC Emerging Technologies Competition for the development of a novel iron supplement with potential for global benefit.

She is currently leading a large field clinical trial (namely IHAT-GUT), on the safety and efficacy of oral iron supplements in young children, conducted in collaboration with Professor Andrew Prentice at the MRC Unit The Gambia.

Yasemin Kor

Yasemin Kor

Beckwith Professor of Management Studies, Cambridge Judge Business School

Professor Yasemin Y. Kor has been teaching and doing research in strategic management for the past 20 years. She teaches such courses as Strategic Change and Renewal, Mergers and Acquisitions, Strategy Execution in Social Innovation Masters, and Strategy Formulation in Cambridge.

Professor Kor has done research on firms in medical devices and biotech industries, professional service firms (law firms), food processing and food retail industries, transportation industry, and social entrepreneurship. She is a member of the Cambridge Global Food Security Initiative and interested in sustainable food systems. Currently, she is doing research on food industry’s responsiveness to the organic food trend (through acquisitions and greenfield entry) and on the responsiveness of supermarkets to the global food waste problem. She recently published an article on how food retailers can solve the food waste issue in Harvard Business Review Digital.

Prior to her academic career, Professor Kor worked in companies on stock portfolio management, market research, and product management.

David Bennett

David Bennett

Dr David Bennett is a Senior Member of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, UK and part-natural, part-social scientist in both academia and companies.

He has long-term experience, activities and interests in the relations between science, industry, government, education, law, the public and the media, and has spent the last 25 years or so working on and running large, international, multidisciplinary, science-based projects such as Biosciences for Farming in Africa‘, and co-authoring books such as Successful Careers Beyond the Lab (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Jag Srai

Jag Srai

Head of the Centre for International Manufacturing, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge

Jag is Head of the Centre for International Manufacturing, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge where he completed his PhD in engineering, manufacturing and management. His research work and that of his group involves working closely with Industry in the analysis, design and operation of international production, supply and service networks.

Current research areas include global value network analysis, service network integration, supply network resilience, sustainable industrial systems network design, and the development of new forms of supply network that support emerging industries. Research projects are cross-sector in nature but include supply network and industry transformations linked to specific challenges within pharmaceuticals, food, automotive and aerospace.

Sebastian Concha

Sebastian Concha

Founder, Naïf Drinks

Sebastian is a Cambridge Judge MBA alumnus with extensive experience food and drinks innovation. His expertise includes the foundation of the botanical Naïf drinks, the establishment of Mintel’s business in Brazil and the development of three new wine brands for Concha y Toro, exported to more than 35 countries.

He now runs the UK office of Fruselva, a Catalan company, focused on the production of cold-pressed juices and baby food.

Sumatra Ray

Sumantra (Shumone) Ray

Founding Chair, NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health
Senior Clinical Tutor, CU School of Clinical Medicine
GCRF Flagship Project Co-Lead, CU Centre of Development Studies
MRC Senior Clinician Scientist, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory

Sumantra ‘Shumone’ Ray is a medical doctor and registered nutritionist, with interests in nutrition, cardiovascular disease and medical education. Since 2008, Shumone has been Founding Chair and Executive Director of the NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health. He also works for the Medical Research Council as a Senior Clinician Scientist in nutrition and vascular studies, as well as the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey Lead Clinician (Public Health England). He is Co-Lead of a GCRF Flagship Project in India on education, empowerment and entrepreneurship leading to improved human nutrition, health and wellbeing. In 2018 he became the Founding Co-Chair, along with the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Group, of BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health.

Margaret Ontita

Margaret Kerubo Ontita

Doctoral Scholar at the University of Cambridge

Margaret is currently a Doctoral Scholar at the University of Cambridge, pursuing a degree in Sociology. She holds a MSc in Applied Human Nutrition and a BSc in Food Nutrition and Dietetics, both from the University of Nairobi. Her areas of specialisation are in the development and implementation of nutrition programmes, nutritional epidemiology, and community nutrition diagnosis and surveillance. With interest in Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) and Integrated Community Management of Acute Malnutrition.

She previously worked as a Teaching Assistant at the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Technology; University of Nairobi. She has over five years’ experience as a Nutrition and Food Security Consultant in several projects, the most recent being the Australian-African Universities Partnership Research Development Fund since March 2017, in the programme ‘Development of a Mobile Based Information System for Nutrition Driven Agriculture’ Project. Also, a joint feasibility study by World Vision and Caritas Burundi in June 2017, ‘Food and Nutrition Security Project in Muramvya and Kayanza Districts, Burundi’.

Alice Turnbull

Alice Turnbull

Communications & Government Affairs Specialist working in the Crop Science division, Bayer

Alice is a Communications & Government Affairs Specialist working in the Crop Science division for Bayer in the UK. After completing an MA in International Relations at Warwick University, where she enjoyed engaging with local food initiatives and working with food businesses on sustainable development, Alice is thrilled to collaborate with a range of stakeholders including politicians, farmers, and the general public on shaping the future of agricultural policy.

She engages daily with key agri-food sector issues and particularly loves promoting knowledge transfer and the cutting-edge science delivered in scientific innovation centres nationwide as a member of the agricultural biotechnology council. A key highlight for Alice is her involvement as a Workplace Participant and Mentor for IFSTAL, and ongoing mentorship for the winning team of the Thrive for Change challenge as part of the global Youth Agricultural Summit which took place in Brussels 2017.

Feryal Erhun

Feryal Erhun

Reader in Operations Management

Dr Feryal Erhun is a strong proponent of practice-based research. Through collaborations with Intel Corporation, Cisco, Stanford University Medical Center and others, she has been able to combine her academic interests with firms’ needs to deliver insights for both communities. At Stanford, her research group designed a decision-support system for optimising capital investment decisions for firms in capital-intensive industries in collaboration with Intel Corporation, which was selected as one of the finalists in the 2012 Franz Edelman Award. The Award recognises outstanding examples of innovative operations research that improves organisations; Feryal was also inducted as an Edelman Laureate.

Feryal is an editorial board member of the Production and Operations Management Society and the Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Society.

Marc Jansen

Marc Jansen

Data Scientist at Gousto

Marc is a data scientist at the UK’s leading recipe kit company, Gousto. Since joining in early 2017, he has worked on development and production deployment of algorithms for personalisation, stock management and warehouse optimisation. Prior to joining Gousto, he completed a PhD in Management Science at the University of Cambridge and spent time as a visiting researcher at the MIT-SUTD International Design Centre in Singapore.

Sachin Shende

Sachin Shende

Co-founder & CEO, KisanHub

Dr Sachin Shende grew up on a farm, and combines the insights of a rural upbringing with recognised expertise in the development of data analytics and research platforms. After first degrees in agricultural engineering and water resources management, Sachin began his career building reservoir decision-support systems.

Sachin holds a PhD in Computational Hydraulics, and prior to founding KisanHub in 2012, managed the development of bond trading and research analytics platforms for Barclays Global Investors and BlackRock.

Giles Barker

Giles Barker

Co-founder & COO, KisanHub

Co-founder and COO at KisanHub, Giles leads the revenue and operation functions. Since KisanHub graduated from the Accelerate Cambridge programme in 2014 the team has grown to 30 and raised over £3m to develop their Crop Intelligence Platform.

KisanHub is currently providing its software to some of the largest agri-enterprises in the industry, who use the platform to connect over 3,000 farmers within the UK and India.

Veena Adityan

Veena Adityan

Co-founder & CEO, Smartbell

Veena is a computer engineer and entrepreneur, with a MBA from University of Cambridge. She has over 10 years in full stack software development and building enterprise scale cloud platform systems. Working for in Seattle, she has taken complex software to launch from inception.

Her expertise includes technology MVP and scale-up, team development, client and partner management and business strategy. She is currently working on her own agri-food technology startup venture, Smartbell, developing wearable devices for animals and a welfare tracking platform that uses machine learning systems to help the dairy farming industry.

Jose Chitty

Jose Chitty

Co-founder & COO, Smartbell

Jose is a Chief Operations Officer and one of the founders of Smartbell. Smartbell believes that the best way to tackle food security in the livestock industry is to improve animal welfare and empower farmers with information. Smartbell’s sensor technology and data analytics platform for remote monitoring tracks livestock health and wellbeing. Over long term, it provides predictive analysis for sustainable livestock farming.

Jose is a mechanical engineer with a specialisation in automation, and has an MBA from the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. Jose moved across five different countries while working for UK firm Aggreko, the world’s largest provider of temporary power rentals, where he worked in the technical training department.

Jose’s areas of expertise include business improvement, technology development, process control, training and development, business models, idea assessment, operations management, and agile development.

Matt McLaren

Matt McLaren

CEO and Co-founder, Entomics

Matt McLaren has been CEO and Co-founder of Entomics since November 2015. Originally from Australia, he spent over five years as an analyst at J.P. Morgan, and as a senior consultant leading projects across the pharmaceutical, financial services and manufacturing sectors.

He received his MBA from the University of Cambridge Judge Business School (receiving a Director’s List prize) and a BA from UC Berkeley. Matt is a keen cyclist, surfer and rugby fan, and is currently a volunteer rowing coach at Darwin College.

Jim McDougall

Jim McDougall

Commercial Director at Outfield

Jim is Outfield’s commercial director and sales lead, engaging with companies and organisations across the agriculture and food sector. He has a background as a risk consultant advising private equity firms on mergers and acquisitions, with a focus on environmental and social governance. Jim started his career as a fire and explosion engineer, managing large international projects across in the oil and gas industry.

Ansje Germann

Ansje Germann

Company Director at Jake’s Boost

Ansje, a multi-award-winning producer and director, turned her back on the world of TV to become a social entrepreneur. She holds a Diploma in Entrepreneurship from Cambridge Judge Business School and is a graduate of both the Accelerate Cambridge and Cambridge Social Ventures programmes.

Jake’s Boost is the first social enterprise Ansje and her business partner Dan launched in 2015, with two more businesses now in the pipeline. Last year their crowdfunding campaign reached its goal in less than 50 hours. Their products have won several food awards and have been featured in Women’s Health Magazine, Veggie Magazine, Vegan Food and Living, Cook Vegan and many others.

Hanadi Jabado (Facilitator)

Executive Director, The Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School

Hanadi is passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation. A serial entrepreneur herself, she has a strong understanding of the needs of early stage ventures and entrepreneurs. Since 2010 she has been an advisor to startups all over the globe in every conceivable sector. 

Hanadi sits on the advisory board of several startups at various stages of development and growth and is a director of [email protected] CIC. Recently, Hanadi’s work to support entrepreneurs earned her recognition as one of the Maserati100 and as an unsung hero in the Smith & Williamson Power 100.

Stephen Parkes

Stephen Parkes (Facilitator)

Business Development, The Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School

Stephen works at the Entrepreneurship Centre to develop partnerships and programmes which bring value to the Cambridge and wider start-up ecosystem. He has been involved with the Venture Creation Weekend’s for four years. 

Stephen founded Go Enrol, a company which aims to widen access to education across the world. Since its launch Go Enrol has helped people in 188 countries discover, apply to and enrol on courses. Stephen’s experience spans over a decade working in education and private equity with time spent in the UK, China and other emerging economies in Asia.

Sayara Thompson

Sayara Thompson (Organiser)

Programme Manager, The Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School

Sayara manages a few programmes at the Entrepreneurship Centre, such as the Venture Creation Weekend, Ignite and the SME Growth Challenge Programme. She previously worked in Alumni Relations and for the MFin programme at Cambridge Judge Business School. 

With a background in IT and research she has experience in working in International organisations and the private sector. She is a great networker and is always keen to help people to connect.

Sarah Garland

Sarah Garland (Facilitator)

Chair, Cambridge Food Security Forum

Sarah Garland is the current chair of the Cambridge Food Security Forum, an interdisciplinary group of students and academics at the University of Cambridge exploring how to achieve a sustainable food system. The Forum focuses on feeding discussion, sparking innovation, and engaging with the Cambridge community on food security issues.

Sarah is a PhD student in the Baulcombe Lab, Department of Plant Sciences, and is a member of Trinity College. Before moving to England, Sarah graduated from Duke University in the United States with High Distinction in Biology. Sarah was an intern at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration where she first became interested in global food security.

Bethan Manley

Bethan Manley (Facilitator)

Doctoral Scholar, University of Cambridge

Bethan studied for her MSci degree in Biology in the University of Bristol, and is now working towards her PhD in the Department of Plant Sciences, Cambridge. Her PhD focuses on the genetic basis behind the interaction between a beneficial symbiotic fungus and the economically important crop species maize. Working within plant genetics led her to become interested in the wider applications of this research: food security. In particular Bethan is interested in the ways that startups and researchers are making contributions to pursuing a more sustainable future for the food industry.