Our report of the fifth stage of the Food Innovation Global Mission: Shanghai

The Food Innovation Global Mission (FIGM), the official mission sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has reached the final stages of the prolific edition 2018, bringing the 16 researchers of the Food Innovation Program (FIP) to the cities of Shanghai (where they stopped for the fifth stage), Bangkok and Mumbai (divided into two delegations for the sixth and final stages). In the three Asian metropolises, students continued to discover different realities and to study them around the 4 research themes of the entire Global Mission: Future of Proteins, Food Care and the Future of Food Services, Scalable Sustainability, and Circular Systems and Agro-innovation and Smart Cities.

The activities of the Shanghai delegation started officially on June 23rd, when researchers participated first in a Tea Ceremony, where they learned how to derive the best parts of the tea leaves and combine this ancient art with the movements of Tai Chi.
After this first experience, the students immediately immersed themselves in the reality of Shanghai by visiting various restaurants and activities in the Asian metropolis, all with different concepts. The group visited the restaurant Ultraviolet (which fuses food with innovative multi-sensorial technologies) and the Starbucks Reserve Roastery (the first location in the world to have implemented augmented reality programs that show the creation of coffee). They met with Google’s headquarters, to share the projects and discoveries during the Global Mission and learned about the commitment of the American company to provide its employees with healthy food and nutritious dishes during the work days. There was also a visit by the delegation to Hema (a supermarket chain that is part of the Alibaba Group that exploits technological innovation, marrying the opportunities of traditional purchasing with those of the most advanced online commerce).

Another highlight of the experience was a workshop co-designed by CHINA EASTERN NORMAL UNIVERSITY and the Polytechnic University of Turin to redesign the abandoned island of Chongming. The first day was entirely dedicated to the visit of this island, abandoned for some time now in development for a possible incubator for future projects of sustainable and innovative urban farming. Regarding this island, the Chinese University and the Food Innovation Program delegation began to reflect on the possibility of revitalizing the territory with the creation of the Food Innovation Design School: this school, will make use of the training support of the ECNU School of Design, focusing mainly on technological and innovative processes in the food sector (including new experiences of services, tastings and recycling) and will develop new forms of knowledge on the environmental impact of the food
industry and on world gastronomic heritage. Roberto Pagani, delegate of the Italian Consulate Science and Technology sector in Shanghai, said about this project: “The innovative food design program will have to intensify sustainable growth and cooperation between countries based on cultural exchanges and social inclusion”.
The second university day, in contrast, was a moment of reflection and consolidation of ideas about the Chongming island: the researchers, with the Polytechnic of Turin and the students of the ECNU, developed the project COOK TOGETHER (the idea that links the development of local communities to the issues of environmental and food sustainability).
They also addressed the problem of pollution with edible packaging solutions, i.e. edible packaging. On this initiative, the architect of the Polytechnic of Turin Lorenzo Savio reported: “The students had the opportunity to carry out an exercise on creative design aimed at providing a first impression on the needs and requests of the course program and on the structures of the School to be developed on the Chongming island. The complementary experience between the Turin Polytechnic and the ECNU will open opportunities for collaboration on research and training activities involving constructive technologies and
design innovation themes”.

Other meetings of great interest include BitsxBites (startup accelerator that invests in projects that link the future of food, sustainability and technology) and participation in the Food Education Innovation Forum organized from FoodTalk, ROBAMsector (Hangzhou home appliance company that has always followed the most interesting technological innovations in food) and the Food Nutrition Science Center, where they confronted China leading food education advocates on the future of cities and their food problems. The
delegation also had the opportunity within this Forum to see urban and sustainable horticulture projects initiated by teachers and school children at the Hangzhou Shanghai World Foreign Language Primary School.

The team also had the opportunity to visit with the food service team at Shanghai Disney Resort. The evening ended with a dinner at Pure and Whole together with the founder of this healthy living restaurant, Frank Steffen. It is a pioneer project for Shanghai, founded by expats inspired by Buddhist cuisine and by the desire to nurture the consumer in a sustainable way with great attention to health, without forgetting pleasure and taste, fundamental components when it comes to food. Important were the insights on the future of agriculture obtained from the meeting with two other important protagonists: Cambio Coffee (a collective that supports small farmers, cooperatives in production and direct trade of coffee carrying out research in the field of blockchain applied to the supply chain) and Rainbow of Hope (a community based on permaculture, planning for eco-sustainable human settlement systems, based on the centrality of agriculture and on particular attention to the territory). Another meeting was with CBI, China Bridge, an innovation, and design company. CBI are pioneers and leaders in the Chinese market with a myriad of collaborations in the food and beverage world.

During the stage in Shanghai, FFI participated in a Digital Meetup moved “virtually” to Piazza Affair in Milan, linking up with Digital Influence & Innovation Day. This event, led by the Italian-German Chamber of Commerce (AHK Italien) featured Claudia Laricchia, Head of Institutional Relations and Global Strategic Partnerships of the Future Food Institute. She presented a case together with Barilla Legumotti (beans made from legume and high protein flour).

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