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Innovation in Food Security Venture Creation Weekend, Mar 2019

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Innovation in Food Security Venture Creation Weekend

Are you interested in getting involved in entrepreneurship? Do you have a novel idea or application in Food Security that would transform the lives of many people?

Kickstart your entrepreneurial career and start developing your venture at the next Venture Creation Weekend on 15-17 March 2019 at Cambridge Judge Business School. It’s a chance to test your business idea ideas relevant to food security, build a team and pitch to investors within 50 hours!

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.

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

  • Supply chain management
  • Nutrition
  • Food waste
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Food biotechnology
  • Agrigenomics application (i.e. food safety and conservation)

Who can participate in the Food Security VCW?

  • Researchers, postdocs, PhD students, entrepreneurs, professionals and students who work on ideas related to food security, in particular the fields mentioned above.
  • Everyone else who may not have a food security related venture idea but can contribute to business development, market research or in any other way and work as a part of the team.
  • Those who want to get inspired and learn how to start their venture.

Why attend the Food Security Venture Creation Weekend?

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.

Find out more about the content and format of the CJBS Venture Creation Weekends

When is it?

The Innovation in Food Security VCW starts promptly at 18:00 on Friday 15 March (registrations from 17:30) and ends at 19:00 on Sunday 17 March.

The exact dates and times are:

Fri 15 March 2019, 18:00-23:00

Sat 16 March 2019, 08:30-23:00

Sun 17 March 2019, 08:30-19:00 (followed by a dinner* from 19:00 to close)

* Please note there is a special closing dinner following the final pitches to celebrate the achievements of the weekend.

The venue is Cambridge Judge Business School, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1AG.

View our location and directions

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 food security VCW was one of the most inspirational educative and structured events I have attended. Well done to the organisers.
Muhammad Altalib, student, King’s College London, Food Security VCW, March 2018
Great weekend which inspired us to tackle some of the biggest problems facing the world today.
Sioned Davies, student, Land Economy, University of Cambridge, Food Security VCW, March 2018
The experience was inspiring and provided an insight to an industry I had no knowledge of before. It helped me grow in confidence and create relationships.
Warren Bath, Innovation Project Leader, TWI, Food Security VCW, March 2018
I came here with absolutely no idea but I landed up pitching and forming a team. I made communication with absolute strangers. Amazing experience and opportunity
Pranet Patra, MBA, Alliance Manchester Business School, Food Security VCW, March 2018
56 hours, five unknown people, one idea. The mentorship and resources provided to us was an excellent experience – it was astonishing to see what everyone was able to come up! Loved the experience.
Swati Karla, MBA, Cambridge Judge Business School, Food Security VCW, March 2018

in partnership with

illumina logo

with support from

Cambridge Food Security Forum.
Agri-Tech East

Contact us

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

Engage with us

Follow the CJBS Entrepreneurship Centre on Twitter

Follow the CJBS Venture Creation Weekend on Twitter

Hashtag #CamVCW

How innovation is driving solutions in food security

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East, explains how increasing productivity and reducing waste through innovative solutions can address global challenges in food security. Dr Clarke will be judging the startups at the upcoming Venture Creation Weekend on 15-17 March 2019.

Read Belinda's blog post

Friday 15 March 2019


Registration at Cambridge Judge Business School

Foyer, CJBS


Buffet Dinner & Networking



Welcome & introduction



Half-Baked session



Pitch your idea



Vote for your favourite ideas



Team building



Teams work on their ideas

Break out rooms

Saturday 16 March 2019


Arrival and refreshments; Sign up for mentoring sessions

Common Room, CJBS


Business Model Canvas presentation, Andrew Hatcher



Teams work on their ideas

Break out spaces


Tea / Coffee break and Sign up for mentoring sessions

Foyer, CJBS


Teams work on their ideas

Break out spaces


Sandwich Lunch

Common Room, CJBS



4th/6th floor pods


Tea / Coffee break

Common Room, CJBS



4th/6th floor pods


Beer and Pizza

Common Room, CJBS


Teams check-in, report progress and call for help

Common Room, CJBS


Teams work on their ideas

Break out spaces

Sunday 17 March 2019


Arrival and breakfast refreshments

Common Room, CJBS


How to pitch your idea, Andrew Hatcher



Teams work on their ideas / prepare for mentoring

Break out spaces



4th/6th floor pods


Tea / Coffee available

Common room



4th/6th floor pods


Sandwich Lunch

Common room


Teams finalise presentations

Break out spaces


Tea / Coffee available

Common room


All presentations should be submitted and uploaded on PC



Final Presentations



Break and Judging



Winners announced and Awards presented






Closing Dinner

Royal Cambridge Hotel

Dr David Aldridge

Senior Lecturer, Cambridge University’s Department of Zoology

Co-founder and Managing Director of BioBullets

Dr David Aldridge is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology, where he heads the Aquatic Ecology Group. His research focuses on the application of ecological concepts for the management and restoration of stressed ecosystems. He works closely with industry and has research projects spanning six continents (including Antarctica).

After winning the RCUK Bioscience Business Prize in 1999 he became co-founder and Managing Director of BioBullets Ltd, a company developing patented control agents for biofouling mussels, artificial diets for commercial shellfish production and nutritional enhancements for the food and beverage industries.

David has received the World Bank Development Award for his contributions to improved sanitation in China, and the Entec Medal for his contributions towards environmental sustainability.

Dr Belinda Clarke


Agri-Tech East

Dr Belinda Clarke is the Director of Agri-Tech East, the membership organisation connecting farmers and growers with researchers, technologists, entrepreneurs and investors using innovation to enhance the economic growth, agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability of the agri-food value chain.

Belinda is a member of BBSRC Council and a trustee of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, as well as a non-executive director of Agrimetrics.

She has a first degree in natural sciences (Part II Plant Sciences) from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in plant biochemistry from the John Innes Centre. She is a Nuffield Scholar, Associate of the Royal Agricultural Councils, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, Chartered Biologist, and a qualified business coach.

Martin Collison

Rural and Agri-food Consultant 

Owner, Collision and Associates

For the last 30 years Martin has combined a career as an academic with farming, importing and consultancy and has, since 2002, run his own specialist economic development consultancy, Collison and Associates Limited.

With a focus on economic development, innovation and education, Martin has developed and launched a series of major projects in the agricultural and food sectors.

Martin works with Greater Lincolnshire LEP as agrifood lead and co-ordinates the national DEFRA/LEP Food Group. He helped government develop the UK Strategy for Agricultural Technologies and has worked for the EU to review EIP Agri.

Whilst most of Martin’s work has related to the agri-food supply chain and rural economy, he has also worked on projects in the digital, life sciences, energy, water and education sectors.

Dr Lydia Smith

Head of NIAB Innovation Farm and the Eastern Agri-Tech Innovation Hub


Dr Lydia Smith is Head of NIAB Innovation Farm and EastAgritech Innovation Hub at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge UK. She leads interactive farmer-facing research into sustainable farming; especially crop genetic improvement and waste minimisation.

Lydia’s research gradually shifted towards improvement of plant genetic resources and new methods for their utilisation and characterisation. She built up and led the novel and non-food crop portfolio of projects over 12 years; particularly concerned with bio-pharmaceutical and probiotic applications.

The need for industry participation and demonstration in this area led to the ’Innovation Farm’ concept, a new venture, conceived and set up by Lydia, now providing a practical, grower-facing research facility, with knowledge exchange and route to application for end-users in industry at its core. Since 2016, she is also now leading the East Agri-tech Innovation Hub providing a pilot study resource for farmers and researchers to minimise waste in farming, or to reuse selected waste for new, higher value products.

Duncan Catchpole

Founder and Managing Director

The Cambridge Organic Food Company

Duncan is a social entrepreneur with more than 20 years’ experience in the sustainable food industry as the founder and owner of The Cambridge Organic Food Company. He is currently leading the Harmony Food Hubs project; a concept which creates a sustainable local food system where all actors are better connected and supported.

Duncan is also a committee member of Cambridge Sustainable Food; the organisation responsible for Cambridge’s inclusion in the Sustainable Food Cities network.

Charlie Hancock


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.

Carol Ibe


JR Biotek Foundation

Carol is the founder of JR Biotek Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to training Africa’s next generation of bio-scientists and to promote joined up thinking on the continent’s sustainable development. She created the ‘Bio-innovation for Africa’ pitching challenge to inspire Africa-based scientists to create solutions to some of the most pressing challenges in Africa. Carol was inspired to develop this initiative after winning the StartRight! Business Plan Pitching competition in Maryland, USA in 2015.

Carol is a final year PhD student and Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences. In partnership with the Department, Carol organises annual scientific training courses for outstanding Africa-based agricultural researchers in Cambridge. Recently, her Foundation launched ‘Reach & Teach Science in Africa’, a large-scale capacity building project designed to train, mentor and provide relevant academic resources to support 1,000 agricultural researchers and students in African universities by 2029.

Professor 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 courses such 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.

Dr Sachin Shende

Co-founder & CEO


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

Clotilde Teiling

Marketing Manager


Before joining Illumina as a Marketing Manager in 2012, Clotilde has more than 15 years of relevant experience in the life science industry with skills in product marketing, R&D and sequencing laboratory. Most recently she served as a Segment Marketing Manager specialising in microbiology located in Lyon, France.

After a successful career in the United States she has now begun her European endeavour. In the past year she has been spreading her knowledge and love for science, genomics and sequencing throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa through collaborations, education and expounding.

Clotilde’s domain expertise is in genetics with a degree from University of Denver (Colorado). She has developed through the years a passion for the microbiome in and around us – anything that can affect us, from pathogens to diets and all the environments we are exposed to our entire life.

Janos Toth

Investment Associate

Sustainable Ventures

Janos invests in pre-seed and seed-stage companies in the areas of resource efficiency, clean air & transport, connected homes, energy tech in the UK. Prior to Sustainable Ventures, he was an investment manager at Day One Capital which is a CEE-based generalist fund investing at Seed and Series A stages.

He was also Vice President of Operations at SPCE, where overseeing day-to-day operations of a seed-stage marketplace company taught him the nitty-gritty part of startups. Parallel to SPCE, he was studying at the London School of Economics and his freestyle initiative got rated as one of the 10 most promising social enterprises in the UK in 2017 by McKinsey & Company.

Simon Walker

Founding Director

Release Life Sciences and Diagnostics (RLS)

Simon Walker, Founding Director at Release Life Sciences and Diagnostics (RLS) has over 20 years experience achieving results in global life science, diagnostics and food markets. Prior to forming RLS he served in a variety of senior level roles in small and large organisations (including Thermo Fisher Scientific, Qiagen and Oxford Gene Technology).

Simon’s domain expertise is in product development and marketing. He loves pairing this with scientific knowledge and its real-world application by developing and launching products that make a difference. Recent exciting projects have included developing and launching improved methods for food pathogen detection, food authenticity and antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST).

Nick Watson

Head of Commercial Services


Nick has over twenty years in the agricultural industry, working for local and global companies. Combining a thorough grounding of ‘in field’ product evaluation and agronomy for crop protection and yield improvement with formal qualifications in business and marketing, he has become influential in product and portfolio management with a multimillion-pound budget.

Nick currently works at the leading UK research institute in agriculture and horticulture, delivering knowledge and services to the industry. Part of his role is with the ventures team assessing new technologies, whether services or products, and defining their position and merit.

Nick has been involved with all aspects of the product life cycle from discovery, evaluation, pricing, segmentation and supply. This has come in useful with his own successful vineyard producing quality English wines.

Startup mentors

Jose Chitty

Co-founder & COO


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 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.

Tom Ellum



Tom Ellum is the Founder of Storimarket, previously part of Accelerate Cambridge, and also advises other startups. Previously he worked for Marie Stopes International as both a Country Director and Global Director and continues to serve on the board in Nigeria and Papua New Guinea.

He is passionate about using innovation, technology and business to create sustainable development. At Storimaket, his team and he are building the world’s first farm-to-fork platform to source food products directly from small producers and farmers in Africa.

Patrick Hickland



Patrick is a co-founder of CropVax, an agricultural biotechnology startup that has been running since May 2018. CropVax has been supported over the past year by the Accelerate Cambridge programme at the Cambridge Judge Entrepreneurship Centre. CropVax is also part of the Innovate UK Agrifood Knowledge Transfer Network.

As a Director of the company, Patrick understands the challenges associated with funding an early-stage venture and has experience of interacting with venture capital firms, angel investment syndicates and government-run funding bodies. Patrick also works on developing the technology and has had experience working with patent attorneys on the necessary task of protecting intellectual property.

Patrick is currently in his final year of a PhD, working as a molecular biologist in the Plant Science department at the University of Cambridge. Prior to his PhD study he worked in international business development, gaining experience of sales and distributor management.

Oli Hilbourne



Oli Hilbourne is an engineer and entrepreneur, and is one of the founders of Cambridge based agritech startup Outfield. Oli’s background is in aerospace engineering, and he has previously worked at Marshall Aerospace on both military and civil aircraft design projects. In 2016, Oli became one of the founders of Outfield, using drones and robotics systems to bring efficiency savings and drive production in high-value agriculture.

Oli’s areas of expertise include robotics, machine learning and agricultural systems, and he has a passion for technology with real world impacts.

Matt McLaren

CEO and Co-founder


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.

Andrew Hatcher (Facilitator)

Head of Collaborative Programmes, Entrepreneurship Centre and Managing Director, The MAPP

The MAPP develops visual planning tools for developing and sharing plans of all kinds.

Andrew has a long history of identifying, developing and managing innovation within corporate environments and notably created an implemented a comprehensive and international innovation management system while working for Reuters, the European media group. His career at Reuters culminated in a role as CEO of an Asian-based Internet trading corporate spin-out in Singapore which he took through initial venture capital (VC) funding and on to a trade sale.

Andrew draws on a wealth of experience in all aspects of business management gained through working internationally, predominantly in the US and UK.

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 (Organiser)

Programme Manager

The Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School

Sayara manages a number of programmes at the Entrepreneurship Centre, such as the Venture Creation Weekend, Ignite and the Summer School on Business and Entrepreneurship (in partnership with ICE). She previously worked in Alumni Relations and the MFin programme at Cambridge Judge Business School.   

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

Bethan Manley

Doctoral Scholar

University of Cambridge

Bethan studied for her MSci degree in biology at 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.

Anthony Bridgen

Doctoral Scholar

University of Cambridge

Anthony studied for his BA in natural sciences at the University of Cambridge, and is now working towards a PhD in the Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge. His PhD focuses on the mechanistic basis of branching responses in A. thaliana.

Working in Plant Sciences has led Anthony to an interest in the broader applications of plant research, such as food security. In particular, Anthony is interested in the ways that understanding the basis for many plant responses can enhance our ability to manipulate crops and achieve greater yields.