A 24-hour food innovation hackathon where 100 participants from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Netherlands, Croatia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Saudi Arabia developed new ideas for more sustainable food industry solutions was held on February 18-19 at Culture centre Spīdola. Three teams that offered the most promising ideas shared the main cash prize of 10 000 euros powered by Rimi Latvia. The cash prize of 10 000 euros presented in cooperation with Rimi Latvia, one of the leading retailers in Latvia, was shared among the winning teams. The money prize will help to develop their ideas further. The most successful idea, a product fermentation application that helps to keep the track of the process and enables to connect with other fermentation enthusiasts and share the product, pitched by the team JarBuddies from Denmark, the Netherlands, Latvia, and Croatia, received 5 000 euros to kickstart their project. In addition to the main prize, one member of the winning team will be given the opportunity to attend the technology conference The Next Web that will be held in Amsterdam on June 18-19 for free. “As this was the first time I participated in a hackathon, I finally had a chance to see myself that such an event is a fantastic way to get an amazing result in a short time because time pressure makes us much more organized. The mentors were very helpful and the ideas, knowledge, and methodology gained during the communication process will be useful to us in the future. I definitely want to emphasize that each of our team members has also gained valuable contacts,” says Didzis Piļāns, a member of team JarBuddies. According to Gustav Fernström, Marketing and Business Development Director at Rimi Baltic, the winning idea is a good example of thoughtful public engagement in the food industry: “We are looking for new and innovative perspectives to meet the challenges of the food industry, and to contribute to changing social habits. The winners demonstrated a great niche solution that is well thought out for the public and the consumer, and the social aspect plays a big role in the success of the solution.” A second place and cash prize of 3 000 euros were received by a team named Broccoli from Latvia. The team developed an application that converts the entered recipes into a list of required products available at the online stores. The third place and cash prize of 2 000 euros to kickstart their project was received by Green Bytes who offered a platform that collects information from various restaurant registers to predict the exact number of items to order, which would result in reduced food waste. In addition, the coworking space Workland Telegraph presented a special prize of free 3-month hot desk received by team FoodCast from Latvia, but early-stage startup accelerator Rockstart awarded JarBuddies with a free mentoring session. Among the all valuable prizes, JarBuddies, Broccoli, Green Bytes, and Glocal won the opportunity to pitch their ideas on the TechChill stage, the leading Baltic startup conference. In total, 16 ideas were presented at the hackathon. “I think that everyone should use the opportunity to be a part of hackathons because the powerful energy allows them to develop great and successful ideas in a very short time, and it is a very valuable experience that will continue to be useful in the future. In addition, this is one of the few opportunities where participants can meet experts from around the world in one place. I would like people to not be afraid to take part in this type of event because hackathons are not just for startup founders and people working in the technology industry. Hackathons are open to anyone from any industry, and because of the diversity of opinions, experiences, knowledge, ideas, and abilities these events are very special,” says Calum Cameron, the moderator of Future of Food hackathon. In mentor-led workshops, participants learned about innovation in the food retail industry, how to change the system and production of the food industry, how to move towards a more sustainable life with less food waste, how to successfully present yourself and your idea. These workshops helped the hackathon participants develop ideas and hopefully will be useful in the future. Participants had the opportunity to work, gain valuable insights, knowledge, and inspiration from well-known experts such as Sauli Böhm, CEO of ResQ Club, a new venture in the food industry; Juhani Mykkänen, Co-founder of the well-known service Wolt; Chantal Engelen, Co-founder of food-related startup Kromkommer, Sabine de Witte, spokeswoman for the Dutch Association for startups and an experienced marketing expert; Sandra van Kampen, Founder of the food industry company De Schaal van Kampen, Afton Halloran, independent consultant in sustainable food systems transition, Gustav Fernström, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Rimi Baltic; Vigants Lesausks, Sales Manager at Printify; Anna Andersone, entrepreneur and spokeswoman for Riga TechGirls, Krišs Pujāts, researcher, Co-founder and CEO of SSS, and Līna Sarma, Manager of TechHub Riga. Hackathon was moderated by Calum Cameron, Digital Society Developer. The hackathon Future of Food is organized by The Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia, EIT Food Hub Latvia, Riga Technical University Design Factory and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in collaboration with Helve. Hackathon is supported by Rimi Latvia. The hackathon brought together students, researchers, food professionals, entrepreneurs, and experts to discuss current challenges in the industry, inspire and develop new ideas with the potential to improve the food industry, and develop new approaches through digitization and technology. Participants came up with ideas to address the challenges of food production, processing, and consumption, as well as to develop new approaches through digitization and technology. The participants built practical solutions within the following four sectors: food waste, reduce plastics, new food, and digitalization. In total, over 200 participants from around the world applied for the hackathon. Focusing on participants already active in the food technology industry, current and potential entrepreneurs, students and academics, technology sector representatives and professionals interested in or with prior experience in the food sector, 100 participants from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Netherlands, Croatia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Saudi Arabia were accepted to participate in hackathon. To gain even more knowledge all confirmed participants received a free 2-day General Pass to attend the TechChill conference on February 20-21 along with 2000 startup founders and enthusiasts.

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