Loving Food and Hacking Waste with BCG DV Imagines in Berlin
Food waste is a major issue worldwide, affecting businesses of all sizes, from supermarkets to corporations, and from private households to governments. Tackling the rampant, global issues of food waste, including how we produce and consume food, is of the utmost importance as we act to protect our planet and the environment.
Even in Germany, a country known for its conscientiousness, the average individual is shown to waste around 55 kilograms of food each year. In reaction to those startling numbers, the German government has set a target of halving its food waste by 2030. With that goal in mind, it’s largely up to the global tech and innovation communities to step in and develop some solutions.
As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention,” and with the urgent need to reduce food waste, what better way to generate change than through rapid invention or innovation?
Hack, fight waste, and transform how we consume food!
BCG Digital Ventures decided to tackle the sustainability issues related to food waste through a Berlin-based hackathon and the BeMyApp team was delighted to take part in this compelling environmental initiative.
After extensive preparation over the summer, the ‘Love Food, Hack Waste’ hackathon came to life in September, a month that marks the end of vacation for many and also the arrival of the harvest season in half of the world. It’s a ripe time to channel new energy into solving pressing issues, especially those related to food production and waste.
The format of the hackathon ‘Love Food, Hack Waste’ was quite simple: 48 hours and more than 80 Developers, UX/UI Designers, and Product Managers competing to make food consumption more sustainable.
On a balmy Friday evening in September, the BeMyApp team warmly welcomed the hackathon participants at BCG DV Imagines’ chic workspace in central Berlin.
The positive atmosphere and energy were tangible from the very first moments of the opening ceremony. With the pressing goal of hacking food waste on the line, the air was thick with motivation and innovative energy.
Open technologies…1…2…3… HACK
It was up to the participants to choose their technologies — BCG DV Imagines and the BeMyApp team strongly supported an open approach for the hackathon. Participants had to get creative and to dig deep into food consumption data, trends, and issues in order to understand the underlying paradigms of human behavior when it comes to food consumption.
Over the course of the weekend, the BeMyApp team had the pleasure of witnessing the evolution of inspiring and innovative ideas as talented developers and product managers brainstormed together.
With excitement and impatience, the BCG DV Imagines and the BeMyApp teams awaited the unveiling of new digital solutions aimed at the reduction of food waste, as well as at raising awareness around the issue.
20 projects, from blockchain to EdTech, but only three winners
Twenty teams took the stage on Sunday afternoon to show off their innovative ideas, each one displaying an impressive demo. However, despite the remarkable quality of all the hackathon projects, there could be only three winning teams.
The grand prize of €10.000 went to eatqi, a platform that reduces food waste by proposing various recipes that make use of leftover food. As an additional feature, eatqi also reduces loneliness by connecting different users with usable food “waste,” as well as with other consumers seeking inspiration. Bravo, eatqi!
Among the outstanding hackathon projects is an application that helps shopkeepers and supermarkets to redistribute their expired products to relevant distribution centers or interested individuals, which not only reduces waste but re-directs food to those who need it.
Other innovative solutions from the hackathon include: intelligent bins with IOT-integration and other connected objects; an application using machine learning to help predict when fruits are ripe and to propose recipes for various fruits based on their ripeness; a meal tracker that calculates every step in one’s food consumption journey and assesses one’s consumption patterns; and a blockchain solution to identify issues in supply chains such as fishing and farming.
Shared communities and the sharing economy were recurring themes among the innovations. And some of the solutions structured their business ideas around existing platforms in order to penetrate the market through an already established community or audience. For example, one application uses Meetup to help track food waste, organize events and activities, and to connect users that are interested in reducing their food waste.
Another major theme emerged over the weekend: changing social behavior often starts with kids. Team 7 developed Foodwise, an idea to educate children about food and food waste through gamification, with an app that can be used at home or in a classroom setting. Children of the 2000s are digitally-savvy, and providing food waste education through apps is a great way to help set positive behavior patterns early on.
Another brilliant idea was a meal impact tracker that would basically calculate every single step in one’s food consumption journey and flag the pros and cons of one’s consuming patterns. We also witnessed a solution that uses blockchain to identify issues in the supply chains such as fish and farm products.
We all can agree on one thing: the future change often starts with kids. Another great EdTech-related project of the hackathon: educating the future generations by creating an app game around food education for children. Team 7, FoodWise, came up with an idea about educating school children through gamification (smart, since kids often learn through games) an app that can be even used in class as integration into a modern schooling model in Western countries.
School kids being very much digital-savvy today, providing food waste education through a mobile app is not such a bad idea after all!
Rethinking food waste
In the process of innovating, our hackers found themselves asking the most elemental questions: what is food waste? Is it really waste? By asking these questions, we learned that we can provide solutions and change the meaning of “waste” itself. With the ideas developed at the hackathon, and with an overall broadening of the conversation around food waste, we hope to change society’s current consumption paradigms.
So many of us live by the mantra, “think globally, act locally,” and yet the solutions developed at the ‘Love Food, Hack Waste’ hackathon made us think that we should: “Eat local, waste less, and act globally.”
The BeMyApp team was delighted with the results of the weekend’s hacking. Seeing so much motivation, creativity, and a true desire to contribute to a more sustainable food consumption model marked the team for the rest of the year.
A big thank you to the hackathon participants and to BCG Digital Ventures!
See you next time in Berlin ;)
If you are interested in hosting a hackathon like this or want to know more about other events in innovation hosted by BeMyApp, check us out at https://www.bemyapp.com/