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Innovation in Food Security Venture Creation Weekend, 15-17 Mar 2019

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.

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

Book now

Standard ticket: £60

Student ticket: £40

15% early bird discount available until 24 February 2019.

Book online

in partnership with

Illumina logo

with support from

Cambridge Food Security Forum logo

Contact us

Tel: +44 (0)1223 760959

Friday 15 March 2019

17:30-18:00 Registration at Cambridge Judge Business School Foyer, CJBS
18:00-19:00 Buffet Dinner & Networking CJBS
19:05-19:10 Welcome & introduction LT1
19:10-20:00 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 16 March 2019

08:30-09:00 Arrival and refreshments; Sign up for mentoring sessions Common Room, CJBS
09:00-09:45 Business Model Canvas presentation, Andrew Hatcher LT3
09:45-11:00 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
13:00-14:00 Sandwich Lunch 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
18:00-19:00 Beer and Pizza Common Room, CJBS
19:00-19:30 Teams check-in, report progress and call for help Common Room, CJBS
19:30-23:00 Teams work on their ideas Break out spaces

Sunday 17 March 2019

08:30-09:00 Arrival and breakfast refreshments Common Room, CJBS
09:00-09:30 How to pitch your idea, Andrew Hatcher 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
19:00-21:00 Closing Dinner Royal Cambridge Hotel
Belinda Clarke

Dr Belinda Clarke

Director, 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.

Lydia Smith

Dr Lydia Smith

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

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.

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.

Yasemin Kor

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.

Sachin Shende

Dr 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

Simon Walker

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).

Startup mentors

Tom Ellum

Tom Ellum

Founder, Storimarket

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.

Oli Hilbourne

Oli Hilbourne

Co-founder, Outfield

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

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.

Andrew Hatcher

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

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 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.