WHY, AT MILAN’S EXPO 2015, A BUSINESS ACCELERATOR IS THE WORLD’S FAIR’S GROUP SHOW.

 

by Jan Åman

On July 8 2015, Feeding the Accelerator, the USA Pavilion Innovation program at the World’s Fair in Milan, Expo 2015, was inaugurated by the commissioner general of the USA Pavilion, Ambassador Douglas T. Hickey, and in presence of the USA Ambassador in Rome, John R. Phillips.

Feeding the Accelerator aims to investigate the possibilities of the World’s Fair as a tool for innovation in our time.

At the core is a Business Accelerator with ten carefully selected entrepreneurial teams, each addressing, from different needs, the future of food and the food industry, as a connected but separate program for the public pavilion at Milan’s Expo 2015.

More than a traditional business accelerator, Feeding the Accelerator is a group show exhibiting innovative directions as they are being developed, both feeding from and contributing to the rich context of EXPO 2015 — Feeding the Planet – Energy for Life.

During the month of September the teams have been working on location in Milan, and on September 30 they are presenting the current state of their companies at the USA Pavilion, pitching to investors and evaluated by a jury led by Ambassador Douglas T. Hickey. After the Expo these companies will continue to develop. Maybe one or two or all of them will end up as large corporations. Who knows?

World’s Fairs have, ever since 1851 when The Great Exhibition opened in London, been a driving force for our ideas on the possibilities of the future. The World’s Fairs have been key to developing our notion not only on innovation, but also how we perceive the world around us, and the way we speak, write and think and present the world – on how we communicate and transmit information about the objects and structures that we have around us.

The World’s Fairs were invented as a tool to inform people about the innovations coming out of the industrial revolution.

But what are their possibilities in a post-industrial world? How could the legacy of the World’s Fair possibly be brought forward in 2015?

Why is a business accelerator in the innovation program of the USA Pavilion the World’s Fair group show in 2015?

Here is the story.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 14.18.28The future has approached modern life as reality on display.

When, in 1851, The Colt, The Breech Loading Revolver, was part of the USA contribution to The Great Exhibition in London’s Hyde Park, people were able to look, with their very own eyes, at the gun of the future. Same with Cyrus McGormick’s Reaper that was exhibited just beside it – it was the future of farming, right then, right there.

Entering the glass construction – The Crystal Palace – designed by Joseph Paxton with engineer Charles Fox was simply to enter an immense spectacle for the eye, where one could look at the innovations that were about to transform the world. Under one single roof The Works of Industry of All Nations were on simultaneous, spectacular display. They were all there, the objects of the future, each for a specific purpose, invented by solitary inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs – not yet transformed into the big corporations they were soon to be. Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 14.16.31

The Great Exhibition was the great exhibition, the exhibition that would transform the very idea of exhibitions, manifesting industrialism, then as promising as tech in the year 1999. It was an exhibition of very hard facts: technology, industry, functionality – of spinning wheels and pumping engines. It was as far from an art exhibition – of dusty academies, allegories, and hidden, depicted messages – as one could ever get. The sensation was the factuality: the new reality coming through the items that would affect the new everyday life of the new urban masses – simply, things that would be used.

The objects on display were therefore not just objects, they were manifestations of a new world order, disrupting every idea of society that had hitherto been known. The real was the magic. The objects put an end to the old world, to aristocracy’s control of land, feudal regimes and the power of the church. Now it was time for the breakthrough of the New – of industry, democracy and urbanism. The objects exhibited made everything – be it money, entrepreneurs, social clashes, art or a new political order – legitimate. The exhibition was even an initiative by the husband of Queen Victoria herself, Prince Albert, and his friends – thus sanctioned from highest authority. So the objects on display were very real indeed, but also much more, they were the tools to make the shift.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 07.41.42

The success was immediate. Everyone came. The cultural elite came. Charles Dickens was there. Alfred Tennyson was there. Even Charlotte Brontë was there. It created a buzz of such proportions that everyone had to go. Money poured in. The surplus from entry fees funded no less than three new London museums, including The Victoria and Albert Museum. The educational trust that was started still provides grants and scholarships for industrial research in England.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 07.44.44The immense construction in Hyde Park was a sensation in itself, something that took the new engineering technology to its extreme: a

glass building that the old world could never ever have pulled off, transparent and shiny and yet based on the knowledge of the future – it was pure magic that it could hold together and contain exhibitions from 28 countries. So, yes, it was grand.

The Great Exhibition was therefore much more than information about industrial inventions. It was a new way of communicating – an immense, curated, temporary display. It was the

birth of the modern, or even post-modern, idea of an exhibition. The Great Exhibition was, to use a word from contemporary art, the first modern large scale installation.

In 1851, art was still struggling to depart from the old world. The institutional frames were still there and within them the narrative stories, the allegories, the subject matter rather than subjective style. Art was exhibited at the Salons, and the clever art critics, like Charles Baudelaire, saw – as he did in his famous review from 1845 – that the Salons more than anything were social spectacles for the bourgeoisie to look at each other rather than at the art works (don’t we know the story…?). Hundreds of paintings filling rooms from floor to ceiling.

The idea of space or the spectators as part of the artwork was not yet born within art. But they were at The Great Exhibition.

The eye of reality.

It is therefore only logical that the next World’s Fair – held in Paris only four years later – became the launch of the new art, of Realism. The World’s Fair itself was again commissioned from the top, by emperor Napoleon III. The aim was to manifest the superiority of French industry and culture, through an Exposition Universelle des produits de l’Agriculture, de l’Industrie et des Beaux-Arts.

A Palais de l’Industrie was built by Champs-Élysées, on the same location where the Grand Palais is located today. But even though the Palais de l’Industrie created magic through the industrial objects on display it never reached quite the same buzz as The Crystal Palace did in London. It was too hot in there, too expensive to build and the construction turned out to be difficult to pull together. On the inauguration day the exhibition could not open in its entirety – and the arts had already been moved to a temporary building a couple of blocks away, on Avenue Montaigne, the street par preference of luxury brands today.

It was again grand, but apart from the classification of Bordeaux wines (the one that still holds today), the exhibition that really made it to the history books was the off-off exhibition. It took place in a small gallery beside the Palais de l’Industrie, not displaying industrial objects, but one single painting. Not that it attracted a big crowd back then, but the painter Eugène Delacroix wrote about it and Édouard Manet was clearly influenced by it. It was to become a legend.

The painter Gustave Courbet simply saw the opportunity to use the World’s Fair to launch art he meant was as real and relevant as the manufactured objects on display in the industrial exhibition:

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 07.46.00

art that depicted reality as it was, a clean break with academic stiffness, symbols, allegories and narratives. And what could be a more suitable context to launch it than the World’s Fair, the first one after the famous game-changer, The Great Exhibition?

No less than eleven of Courbet’s paintings were accepted by the official exhibition. But the painting he considered to be his most important was rejected, and that gave him the window of opportunity. Courbet rented his own venue, paid for it from his own pocket together with his art collector, Alfred Bruyas – to exhibit one single painting.

And so it happened that the 1855 Paris World’s Fair not only launched Realism, but also debuted the gallery installation – a one painting only show in a gallery for a very specific context and message. Courbet wanted to the spread the news, globally, to the more than five million visitors that came to see the World’s Fair.

Courbet named the painting A Real Allegory of a Seven Year Phase in my Artistic (and Moral) Life (it is mostly known as The Artist’s Studio), which was the provocation. He presented a real allegory, not an allegory as the academic ones, unreal, hidden, without connection to reality: spot on, like a novel by Balzac, a poem by Baudelaire – or a Great Exhibition in London.

In the center is the artist himself, by his easel. On his side is a naked lady looking at the painting on the easel from behind the artist, passively glancing at the image taking shape in front of her. No one sees her, even though she is buck-naked. She is the old academic art.

To the left side of the artist are the ones that could end up on the canvases of the new art: the farmers, the workers, the peasants, the priests, the prostitutes, ”real” figures from all levels of society. To the right side of the artist are those that along with him are shaping this new society of machines and manifestos. At the very edge, sitting on a table, the poet Charles Baudelaire, beside him writer Georges Sand, the anarchist theorist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and the art-critic Champfleury, amongst others.

This off-off installation in Pairs in 1855 is simply a major moment in art history.

This is the moment when art became modern. This is when art left the academies to search for reality and relevance. This is the beginning of what was to follow, art with the aim to capture the truth of the eye and the possibilities of the canvas: Impressionism (the reaction but also the following of Realism), Cubism, Fauvism, Suprematism, Surrealism, Futurism – you name it, all the Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 07.49.12way to Pop and, almost too obvious, Pop’s European counterpart, Nouveau Realism. All these -isms were just different takes on how to look at the world and depict reality in a more real way – a ping-pong game between depicting the real reality of art and the real reality of life outside art.

And the starting tool was the World’s Fair.

Reversed positions,

But there is more to it than this.
There is also Marcel Duchamp.

Duchamp was soon, in the 1910’s, to transform art once again, by suggesting that a manufactured product, such as those exhibited in London in 1851, could, in fact, be art.

After having made a buzz in his early twenties, twisting Cubism in a new direction (and being rejected), he went the opposite direction from Courbet. He took the boat to New York where he felt more at ease, not having to compete with Braque, Picasso, and the omnipresent pressure of Gertrude Stein’s Salon, demanding new directions of abstract art every week.

By transforming himself into a chess-playing enigma, Marcel Duchamp created his own and very long lasting buzz. He took on a search for art beyond paintings, beyond the seemingly mass- produced, look-alike, stereotype abstract canvases, painted by an ever growing group of artists – a factory in its own right – that all marketed their own individuality and ingenuity, but in fact were close to replicas of each other (the same beret, the same red wine, the same claims, the same format of expression).

One of Duchamp’s most important achievements was to observe the obvious: that not only objects were mass-produced, behavior, ideas and thinking was as well, also where one should least expect it, in the arts. Marcel Duchamp went to the other end of the production chain. He turned to mass-produced, manufactured objects – the magic of the The Great Exhibition – a bicycle wheel, a urinal, a shovel. From his own studio, and only to visiting friends, he proposed an entirely new art form – the Readymade, ”sculptures already made”. His starting point was, and one should not be surprised, Gustave Courbet: ”Since Courbet, it’s been believed that paintings address the retina. That was everyone’s error. The retinal shudder! Before, painting had other functions: it could be religious, philosophical, moral.”

Think about it.

Art was at this point in history considered to be one thing only: the unique individual expression. The drawing. The painting. The sculpture. Anything made by hand, depicting reality. And suddenly, here was the very opposite of the individual expression, here was an ordinary bicycle-wheel, mass- produced and nothing special in itself. The manufactured object was put on a

stoScreen Shot 2015-09-28 at 07.50.58ol by an artist who silently proposed that this could be an art piece. But – and here is the clue – what Marcel Duchamp proposed was, in fact, not about the object itself. No, he made a structural move, to a new notion on knowledge production, and a very simple one indeed, so simple that nobody had thought about it: that an artwork carries no magic if no one looks at it. Art can only be created through an interplay between the artist, the spectator – and the object.

Marcel Duchamp was raised in the era of the large industrial exhibitions. He was exposed to them as there were several of them only in Paris in his youth. He was extremely interested in the reality outside of art, and of the consequences of industrialism. He spent several years working on optical instruments and applied for a patent from The Seine Department’s Business Court for his Rotoreliefs. He even rented a booth at the Concours Lépine, the innovation fair in Paris, in 1935.

Of all artists in the era of the modern avant-garde, Marcel Duchamp was the one with the closest link to what started with The Colt in London 1851, but he treated it upside down and inside out. (And of course

Duchamp and Courbet were closely linked; Antoine Monnier, the grandson of Duchamp’s wife and the chairman of Fondation Marcel Duchamp, once told me that late in his life Duchamp and his wife Teeny made a journey in France, following Courbet’s footsteps.)

Larger visibilities

So, what is really at stake?
In 1851 the manufactured object turned magic, a tool to tell the story of the bright and shiny future of the industrial revolution. Visible, tangible innovations, to solve one problem each, were put on display at large industrial exhibitions that became vehicles to let the new urban population experience the powers of progress and technology, the powers that would disrupt old structures and build a new societal machinery.

In 1855 Courbet claimed artists were to put on display the new reality created by the machinery behind the new objects, those of the industrial revolution, in order for art to be relevant. He launched a view on art that would last for more than a hundred years – an art dedicated to the representation of reality, to put on display – on canvases – the visible reality of this new world.

As a side-step, in 1913, comes Marcel Duchamp, displaying manufactured objects, those that were not art, but real and functional – only to draw attention to the idea that all meaning occurs through an interplay between object, sender and receiver, suggesting to approach the reality of things through interaction, possibly as complex as human perception, as complex as nature.

The entire scope of the late 19th century until today is thereby set: from the singularity and mass production of industrialism to the possible complexity of a connected, networked society. From eye and machine to interactivity and operational systems.

Duchamp was of course way before his time, and he would silently play chess, work on his secret last piece and wait another 50 years until the world discovered his ideas and he would quickly turn into the most influential artist of the 20th century.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 07.52.27But the wheels – or, rather, the engines – of industrialism had just started in the 1910’s, as had the industrial exhibitions. Industrial principles were applied, separately, in each sector of society. The scale of what was put on display grew with the scope of those industrial systems, as did the need of the industrial exhibitions as tools for communication, to generate belief in the same future.

If, in the late 1800’s, the industrial exhibitions were putting on display the new objects of the industrial revolution – machines, engines, manufactured objects – the industrial exhibitions in the early 20th century displayed the next level: the prototypes of the entire industrial society, innovations on a very large scale. And of course those were a feast for the eye as well.

People would now come and look at – and experience with their very own eyes – the physical nature of a modern society in the making. This was a broad societal offspring of what had been introduced by the avant-garde, like Bauhaus in Germany and De Stilj in Holland, introducing the modern, functional design with a new society in mind – freed from the ornaments of an old handicraft-driven bourgeoisie.

It changed the production systems on all levels.

Just take the country that I was born in, Sweden. The Stockholm exhibition 1930 was not a World’s Fair, but it shaped an entire nation, if not region. It was the prototype and the launch of the Welfare State or The Swedish Model. It created a social, political and democratic model that would last for decades and it is still, in international surveys, claimed to be the strongest brand of the country, beating H&M, Spotify, Ikea, Minecraft and ABBA.

In 1930 there was an urgent need to re-shape the political system in Sweden, not least after the 1929 Great Depression. A group of young architects, designers and intellectuals played the role of the classic avant-garde and made the theoretical framework as well as the design. The government and a few financial families put up the money. With Gunnar Asplund as the main architect, an entire prototype city was built, not as architecture but as a container of the whole scope of a new social order – presenting prototype solutions on everything from housing to institutions within education and healthcare – addressing new solutions for issues on politics, social questions, and gender issues.

The impact was similar to that of The Great Exhibition in 1851.

 

The very big display.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.05.32

The sensation of progress on display was something to sell. It made people gather around an idea, a vision, a future. People came. They had opinions. Change was initiated. But what happens when difficulties of immense scale start to occur as a parallel track?

To stay relevant after the Second World War, the World’s Fairs had no choice but to exhibit something even larger than societal machines: outer space.

The first World’s Fair after the war was held in Brussels in 1958. It was shaped around a large construction that is still a tourist attraction in Brussels, Atomium. Blown up in scale and built in iron crystal, a model of something very small – a unit cell – was meant to generate the feeling of space, of a future beyond the wars of the worlds. Atomium would get its American equivalent four years later, through the Seattle World’s Fair, and its center piece,The Space Needle – at the time the tallest building on the Western side of the Mississippi River.

But back on planet Earth things were really in rapid change. And this time it was neither machines, nor the engines of prosperous progress that was the topic of the day. What was really on display, in the media (which had taken the place of the World’s Fair as a source of information) there was something much larger going on than any exhibition ever could handle: the social consequence of the industrial revolution and its new middle-class. There was suddenly youth culture. There were new Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.06.12wars. There were The Beatles, The Stones, and Bob Dylan. There were tumbling dices and strawberry fields.

It was all over now, Baby Blue.

The theme of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York was

Peace Through Understanding. But Robert Moses, famous for being the mastermind of modern New York City, now the president of the World’s Fair Corporation, did not get along with the official World’s Fair organization. They simply did not approve of his version of a World’s Fair. So it became New York City’s own version.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.09.02

The Philippe Johnson designed pavilion for New York State was a forecast of what was to come. Andy Warhol was asked to contribute and proposed a large mural – America’s 13 Most Wanted Men, influenced, again to no surprise, by a work by Marcel Duchamp from 1923, Wanted, $ 2000 Reward. When asked to remove the thirteen portraits Warhol suggested replacing them with 25 portraits of Robert Moses. Just before the opening Warhol agreed to paint the portraits over with silver paint, the color in his Factory, and, also the color of space.

This was clearly no longer the same world that celebrated Prince Albert’s exhibition in 1851 – of pumping engines, innovative machines, bright new objects and progress on display. This was no longer a world of The Works of Industry of all Nations. After the Osaka World’s Fair in 1970 there would be a long and silent gap, a void of 22 years, until the first post-industrial World’s Fair, Expo 92 in Seville, Spain, opened.

 

In search of the the invisible

If the industrial exhibition until 1970 had been forerunners, changing the modes of the exhibition formats, creating relevance through concrete content and expanding into ever-larger territories – the world was now moving beyond the sensation of industry. Expo 92 invented a new format, to bring in inspiration from the world outside of the World’s Fair – from Disneyland. Expo 92 celebrated the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the Americas – in the format of a gigantic theme park, and with a mission to solve the global water issues. Instead of rollercoasters, merry-go-rounds and scary monsters, the ”rides” were national promotional tours executed by no less than 108 nations, and sponsored by the larger corporations of each nation.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.10.58The post-industrial World’s Fair had turned into a two-fold package. If in the early days the World’s Fairs were hard-core and evoked sensations (and even provocations) – the aim now was to make an exhibition that would please and attract the very wide scope of visitors needed, primarily families. And, some 41 million people did come to visit and take part of the ambitious cultural program in Seville, including a series of concerts with the world’s most famous guitarists, from BB King to Paco de Lucia.

Behind the scenes, hidden, was the second part – the non-exhibited meetings, summits and negotiations on diplomacy, of such political importance (including top politicians, scientists and corporate leaders), that they had to take place behind closed doors. Useful on that diplomacy level and a new role for a World’s Fair, but what was not there was that thing which created the magic for the masses in the old days: that spark of the coming, of a future, a not-known – the inventors innovating, the designers designing, the entrepreneurs entrepreneuring, artists developing, prototype builders prototyping.

To cut a long story short, in Lisbon in 1998, in Hannover in 2000, in Shanghai in 2010 the Expo 92 of Seville formula was to continue. With a focus on national branding the World’s Fairs became tourist attractions with content, for families, for corporate tours, for school classes, with entertainment of various kinds – and, with global diplomacy discussions behind the scenes.

In a world where cities and regions are gaining importance over nations, the World’s Fairs of the post-industrial era have been turned into attractors to manifest a city or a region. That was very much the case in the post-Franco Seville and even more so in Shanghai. Millions of Chinese came to see a world on international national promotional display, just like in Europe in the late 1800’s.

But that magic of the exhibition format, that magic of The Colt from 1851, or that of the societal machines in the early 20th century, where was it to be found?

Relations

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.16.16In the same year as the large structures turned the World’s Fair into a theme park in Seville, something very different happened in art.

A young Thai artist, Rirkrit Tiravanija, decided to, as his art piece, serve noodle soup smack in the middle of the Arsenale exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Visitors passing by were kindly invited to come and taste a bowl of soup, chat with the artist as well as with other visitors. They did. The noodle soup became the talk of the town in Venice that year.

It seemed to be much more intriguing to sit with this smiling, thinking guy, eat noodle soup and have conversations about art, food, the biennale, life, whatever – much more so than to look at all the so-called installations and objects that were on display around him. Rirkrit Tiravanija introduced something new that simply felt very relevant – and even more, it was clear that the artist himself knew what he was doing and why he was doing it.

This was not an art that depicted reality, but instead built a system of conversations, ideas and topics where the artist’s presence was the initiating spark, fueled by a bowl of soup.

Right then and right there Rirkrit Tiravanija initiated what was to be called Relational Esthetics, a label (pinned by curator Nicolas Bourriaud in 1998) that describes how art transformed itself during the 1990’s, from object to interaction. What happened was clearly related to Marcel Duchamp’s Readymade – but, as Tiravanija himself said in a recent conversation with Daniel Birnbaum in Log Magazine, no. 34 – what he really did was to ”put the urinal back on the wall – and use it”.

Just as the manufactured object wasn’t the key for Marcel Duchamp, the soup wasn’t either for Tiravanija. He moved art one step further, proposing something other that the fixed, stable installation art, something other than the idea of display, away from representation and one-handed dialogue, and, silently adding a step beyond even Marcel Duchamp. It was as if the art world was ready for an interchange, where the spectator would no longer be a spectator, but rather a participator, directly engaged in the experience and making it his or hers, generating connections rather than different points of view.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.19.07Art reintroduced human interaction, relations, something more natural and even more relaxed than the one-way messages of the old art. It was meaning appearing through dialogue, through interchange – and, why not? – open source.

Of course Rirkrit Tiravanija was not alone.

On the contrary, it was the mood of a generation. To give a couple of examples:

Carsten Höller works with different tools but shares the same line of interest. He has been turning museums into artist-driven theme parks about human perception – as he did at Tate Modern and Hayward Gallery in London, or the New Museum in New York. The spectators have even been invited to ride ”slides” through entire museums, putting themselves on display, while having a personal experience.

Others, like Philippe Parreno, as in his recent and much acclaimed exhibition at the Park Avenue

Armory in New York, explore related journeys, creating environments that generate an intrinsic interplay with the spectators movements and instant experiences, linking back, again, to what Duchamp was searching for: an art beyond the fixed object and idea of art, something grasping as complex and, again, as natural as human perception.

In 2015 a Business Accelerator is the World’s Fair’s group show at Milan’s Expo 2015.

So, that is the story.

It was with these conditions and with this background that the task to produce an innovation program for the USA Pavilion at the Milan’s World’s Fair, Expo 2015 was approached. It all started through a conversation with Dorothy Hamilton on the future of the chef – and before we knew it Mitchell Davis joined the conversation and the USA Pavilion asked us to produce an innovation program. And we (myself, Savinien Caracostea and Johan Jörgensen) had to answer. The first thing we knew was that innovation results on display was not enough. Today the already launched innovations are already available, information on them can gathered in a few seconds, and it is really no point in putting them on display. No, we needed to generate our own Noodle Soup, a systems of conversations, ideas and topics to would generate innovation but also an understanding of the complexity of things.

We had to start from the context, from the first ever World’s Fair with the future of food on the agenda: Milan’s Expo 2015, Feeding the Planet/Energy for Life, and generation innovation on location, in real time.

Then, what were the conditions?

First:
In 2015 we all know that the world has changed, again. A new revolution has hit the planet with

the same force as the industrial one once did. Just like industrialism had come pretty far in 1851 so has internet technology in 2015. It has already generated the world’s largest corporations. It has already generated the new barons. And it has generated enormous change – the internet crosses per se boundaries and nations, as well as disciplines and genres, and enters every little part of society and business genre, it connects the individual with the entire world.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.20.43

Any Prince Albert of today can do nothing but sanction it. It is already here. The models of communicating, of how to do things, of business models – are in constant and rapid transformation, and will gradually have an effect on an even grander scale, on democratic and legal structures. The world is simply longer about mechanical singular solutions of one problem each. The world is a Rirkrit Tiravanija Noodle

Soup: connections, re-connections, relations, open source; it has become as complex as human perception, as nature.

Information technology gathers information and makes something out of that very information – developing an already existing system So to its very nature the technology of our times is, as much it is a novelty, most of all tools to move away from mechanical technology – to re-think, re-interpret, re-discover and re-cycle already existing systems, sometimes very old, even forgotten knowledge. It is to structure an information overload and make something more efficient out of it.

But, even if the digital devises are visible, the innovation systems behind these devises are not so easy to put on display. We needed to exhibit the change of systems, of structures.

Second:
Food is the theme of Milan’s World’s Fair, Expo 2015.
And, in fact, that changes everything. Food is the perfect starting point for an investigation on the conditions on planet Earth today, as it relates to each and everyone of us, it is in our bodies and in our brains. Food is ideal to understand on how technology is entering and disrupting every part of society, to re-establish lost connections.

Why is that?

Food is simply everything and everywhere. Food, shelter and clothes are our basic human needs – food is the largest singular economy in the world, three times as big as the second one, the global energy industry.

And, most importantly, food is probably the one, single industry that was the most mis-matched to industrialism. Food and industry do not go well together; the basic principle of industrialism was to de-nature, to generate large scale production, food is somehow nature. But information and food does work well together. By collecting and handling data on produce, on our behavior, on where things are and could be transported to it is possible to predict and make decisions that can make the food systems both more sustainable, smart and natural.

And the time is right. Food is the cultural expression of our times, it is what art, poetry, cinema and theater used to be. Today it’s chefs like René Redzepi, David Chang and Alex Atalá that end up on the cover of Time Magazine, not artists or poets. It is food and not cinema the connoisseurs we stand in line for in the large cities. It was simply not by chance that Rirkrit Tiravanija used food as his tool in the early 1990’s; food is versatile and has the capability to capture that Now that an object, a painting or any depiction can ever achieve.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.21.46And even more, food is the most posted item on social media, and, food is what we talk about. Food is health, food is body, food is obesity and the most crucial element on how we will live our lives. Food is knowledge. Food is information.

So there we are.

Industrialism was efficient in finding large scale solutions to large scale problems when the Western world was urbanized back when The Great Exhibition was applauded. But now we have to face and solve the backside of that very industrialism: the troublesome effects on our global environment, climate change, obesity, poverty, pollution – the de- naturalization and de-humanization of things.

It really comes down to the absurdity of the current business models, those that make it natural to send a tomato all around the world, back and forth, to end up in the local grocery store where it was once produced. Or that the business model of industrialism made us eat more sugar than is necessary, with obesity as a problem in one part of the world as a consequence and poverty as a problem in other parts of the world.

When the British chef Fergus Henderson in the 1990’s introduced ”nose-to-tail cooking” he nailed the problem. He re-introduced and re-interpreted knowledge – to use and understand the possibilities of The Whole Beast – that was common to everyone before the industrial revolution. But the factory model threw that knowledge on the bin – to de-nature food and make us eat either the filet of beef, for feasts, or ground meat or hot dogs for everyday eating. We lost, if ever for a very brief moment in the history of the planet, knowledge as old as humanity.

Food is a way to understand that what we now face is Fergus Henderson’s re-discovery on a larger, societal scale. We’re facing a need to generate the society of The Whole Beast, to use and

re-use that which we already have. It is happening. And it is happening fast. Airbnb introduces homes as hotel rooms, Über cars as taxis, and on it goes.

But there is no better area to re-discover as food. The most important effect of information technology and of big data (that we have information on movements, where we are, where things are, on behavior and what not) does one very interesting thing: it re-connects pre-industrial knowledge with post-industrial systems. The new technology brings us back to the soil and nature of being a human being in a global society.

Third:
The USA Pavilion is nicknamed ”The Whale”. It differs from most other pavilions. The architecture manifests something as simple as evident: it is open and inclusive. You do not have to stand in line to get in. The main floor is a board walk where the president himself greet the visitor followed by different points of information. You walk around freely and create your own narrative, contrary to most other pavilions with long lines to get in and with already defined narratives once you are in there.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.22.27

But even more, the USA Pavilion is much more than the USA pavilion. The pavilion is the mothership with a series of connected projects and events, some inside the pavilion, others in the city of Milan. There are dinners served by no less than some 60 of the greatest contemporary American chefs at the James Beard American Restaurants in the city. There are talks and conferences at the Casa America in downtown Milan. And – there is the Innovation program, connected to and commissioned by the USA Pavilion, but operating independently, as a parallel program, from the offices of Copernico, just behind the Centrale in Milan’s city center.

With this set-up the USA Pavilion introduces a new and unique structure for a World’s Fair, taking the post-industrial World’s Fair to the next level. The two-fold package of Seville in 1992 – a theme park pavilion for the public and diplomacy discussions behind closed doors – has been transformed into an open and inclusive, complex and dynamic system of connected projects, conversations, ideas and topics with the pavilion as the initiating spark. It is a system that allows for innovation happening in the present, the initiate that spark of the future, whatever that may be.

Feeding the Accelerator

It was obvious: we had to reach out and see what the innovators were actually innovating, what was happening out there. We knew there was a big buzz about food and tech and the need for change, but what was really happening?

The first pre-condition was to move what we discovered to the context of the World’s Fair in Milan. We had to reach out and find the teams that were innovative, working on changing the systems and structures that would have an effect on the way we eat and produce food in a near future. We understood very quickly that we had to exhibit – to put on display – a wider scope on the innovation models of today. Parallel to carefully selecting ten emerging companies to accelerate, each with a different take on the future of food, we started interviewing people about innovation, mentorship and the needs in today’s society, through the interview series Mentor Minds.

We felt a strong need to extend the open and inclusive features of the USA Pavilion, to make way for teams from different countries and contexts to participate. We began setting up a system ourselves, Feeding the Accelerator, to feed, execute and discover contemporary innovation within food, so that entrepreneurs would be able to really take advantage of the unique context of the first World’s Fair in food.

The official agenda is the following:

More than a traditional business accelerator, it is a group show exhibiting innovative directions as they are being developed, both feeding from and contributing to the rich context of EXPO 2015 — “Feeding the Planet – Energy for Life”.

Feeding the Accelerator connects selected entrepreneurial teams which have unique ambitions to develop new possibilities in areas including farming, food distribution, nutrition, community building, and knowledge sharing to the experience and infrastructures of the partnering companies of the USA Pavilion.

By providing mentorship from leading industry professionals, as well as chefs, artists, designers and theorists to big corporate structures and start-ups alike, Feeding the Accelerator creates synergies between an entire ecosystem of disciplines around food.

And, coming near the end of the 2015 World’s Fair as well as that of the innovation program, it is even more evident now than when we began that the entrepreneurial teams in Feeding the Accelerator are dealing with complex systems, transforming data and ideas to bring us back to food’s real potential. Disrupting systems means to change what is already out there and make it better, smarter, more efficient. So apart from just making business (like in the old, industrial system), there are many other layers that each company is addressing: social issues, environmental issues, consumer dialogues, legal issues – simply covering the whole beast of a contemporary, connected, global society.

The need for change and to enhance innovation is an equal concern to all partners. That is also why the entrepreneurial teams have been put in close contact with the official partners of the USA Pavilion Innovation program, not least Microsoft that has been involved on a daily basis. The big corporations are also in constant transformation. And through the dialogue with these entrepreneurial teams, their edge quality is put in contact with the large structures, providing possibilities for mutual exchange, sharing knowledge and ideas, generating that Noodle soup situation we strived for.

Anyway, here is the future:

Cities structure:
As the world’s population is moving to urban areas and as the industrial systems of separate production (food produced in one place and transported, sometimes around the globe) are being disrupted, the models of city innovation of today are in rapid and necessary change.

Urban Pastoral from Baltimore is a company that develops a new system for urban development, where urban farming is augmented to the next level. Current technology is put in a larger context where real estate, governance and local attraction is generated through an interplay with the city’s different players. Urban Pastoral feeds the city from within the city, the whole beast of the city.

Pnat is upheaving the industrial model of separating the urban and the rural. Activating unused, forgotten spots in the city and making them productive, letting production of food move to the place of consumption and at the same time initiating possible temporary injections in and around cities.

Global structures:
Ignitia has the potential of solving very big global problems, the fact that farmers in the tropics are severely hurt by climate change. Using current, available data and reconfiguring it, the farmers receive a simple text message on when to sow their seeds, which potentially can affect more than 3 billion people.

Microvita 2015, re-thinks the production process, inventing a new form, a bio-logic, where the largest bio-mass on the planet, insects, is used, and applied to use for large-scale production. Rather than suggesting that we all should start eating insects, they use insects to disrupt the production chain so that fish and chicken are fed in a sustainable way.

Food systems:
Kalulu is to the fruit and vegetable industry what Airbnb is to the hotel industry and Über to the taxi industry. Using extreme competence in transforming data, they deliver information to reconnect a direct link between farmer and consumer, giving the profit to the one that actually does the job, the farmer, and making the local produce stay local.

FoodTrace is in a similar way handling information to re-connect local production with local stores, re-connecting the actors in the food system, generating a new system for business to business discovery.

Relational economy:
With IceDreams, ice cream is used as Duchamp used the manufactured object, taking something very common – ice cream – and treating it in a new way, putting it in contact with current technical, business and communication possibilities. IceDreams shows that ice cream can be a tool to health instead of obesity. The artisan skills are codified to match techs striving for a structural change.

Cookbooth is creating the world’s largest creative archive of food, for foodies and chefs, to reveal creative processes, promoting better food. This is a user driven platform to structure knowledge about food and to structure knowledge of professional, sustainable cooking.

Mintscraps has a patent to reveal hidden information about waste in kitchens, leading to more informed decisions, and, generating a better and more sustainable supply chain. Information system that creates substantial savings for the users and a more sustainable planet.

Is this the future?
Yes, we believe so.
These are examples of what is happening right now. They might very well be what The Reaper or

The Colt was in 1851, storytellers of what is to come. It might be that some of them will be the Google or Apple of the future food industry. Maybe not, they are still in the making. And this is completely beside the point. Working with them intensely in Milan in September and prior to that online, they do carry all the potential that is needed to discuss the future of food as well as that of innovation.

The teams of Feeding the Accelerator all address the whole beast of society. They all use information technology and data to disrupt the mechanisms of the industrial society, and make way for a post-industrial world where we no longer throw ancient knowledge in the bin.

The central topic of the World’s Fair in Milan is to discuss and find ways on how we will be able to feed a global population of 9 billion people in 2050. The USA Pavilion has been structured not just to present results for the present, but to take things one step further, towards a near future. This is to set a legacy, and one that needs to continue, in different ways. By setting up an innovation program connected but separate from the Expo, the USA Pavilion makes way not only to discuss the American Food 2.0, but also of the World’s Fairs’ possible 2.0’s.

It is a starting point. And one that carries a responsibility.

As written by chef Dan Barber: ”To grow nature is to encourage more of it. That’s not easy to do. More nature means less control. Less control requires a certain kind of faith, which is where the worldview comes into play.”

Ign_agri_full_HR Immagine 1_Cycle_2 Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 08.49.53

Teams

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.11.47 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.11.40 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.11.34 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.11.26 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.11.20 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.11.13 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.12.15 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.12.09 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.12.03 AM

up

FAQ

frog

As the Milano Expo 2015 has come to an end, we ask you to check our Accelerator, Events and Why sections to answer any questions you may have.

Everyday we receive questions from entrepreneurs wanting to participate in the Accelerator program. So we gathered the answers and listed the most frequent ones here:

 

EVENT SERIES

A series of events were held on the rooftop of the USA Pavilion, at the James Beard American Restaurant in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and at Copernico, the Silicon Valley styled innovation hub near the Milan Central Station. Please see “Events”.

 

HACKATHON

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is a gathering of capable development teams that, during a short period of time (in this case 36 hours), develop a new solution to a given problem. In this case the hackathon was about developing solutions for Internet of Things and Big Data. The hackathon ran from June 20-21 at Talent Garden in Milan.

 

BUSINESS ACCELERATOR

What separates you from a ”normal” accelerator?

The quick answer is: ”Unique Context”. That answer also gives rise to another set of questions regarding how this context is unique.

First of all, this was the first time that the Universal Expo, held every five years, focused uniquely on the enormous issue on how to feed humanity in a healthy and sustainable way. If food is your interest and you like the global context, this was the ONLY chance. The next Expo will be about something else.

Second, the food system needs to be fixed. A lot is good, but a lot of it is in desperate need of improvement or fundamental change. People scout for change agents and since everyone who is anything in food hovers around the Expo, chances were good for them to come across new ideas.

Third, the food system is in its early days when it comes to adopting new technologies and business models. The Expo has been a fantastic opportunity of participating and showcasing ideas at a crucial moment in history. Everyone is looking for the processes and solutions that point to the future.

Fourth, the USA came to the Expo with the intent of not only exhibiting what was done already, but to proactively showcase how the food system could go from here, with methods developed in the US tech sector that have changed industry after industry. This leadership was brought to the Expo for the first time.

Fifth, knowledge. The Expo was a completely unique gathering of knowledgeable individuals and many of them came to mentor in the Accelerator.

Sixth, networks. Be it in the form of investors, experts, industry or academics, a network is what is going to make businesses succeed. Do you think there is a better place on Earth to build networks in the food sector? No, we don’t either.

Becoming a part of the Accelerator meant that businesses were selected as a direction pointing to the future. The Expo and USA Pavilion context meant a unique opportunity to show what that direction was capable of.

What we were looking for?

If we knew that we would have gone straight for those entrepreneurs. One of the best parts of running an accelerator is being surprised by great new ideas. That being said, we of course had ideas on which direction to look. We gathered a few of those in this blogpost.

What did the structure of the program look like?

This accelerator program was all geared towards participating companies being able to maximize the opportunities of the Expo and USA Pavilion context. During the first two months (July and August), there was a virtual program that one could participate in through webinars, online interaction and mentoring sessions over Skype. The goal of the virtual program was to get everyone up to quality and speed regarding areas such as technology, pitching, business models, strategy etc. so that they did not need to do that in Milan (see below).

But it was not like going to class. Since this accelerator had companies from various stages, we realized that many companies already had great capabilities and we tried to match them on an individual basis. For example, we wouldn’t try to teach a master developer how to code better, but rather see how we could aid him or her in solving specific problems.

During the entire program businesses helped their fellow accelerator teams. Building bridges and networks between them was one of our most important goals. They also helped each other practice pitches until they were as stellar as they could be.

In practice, this meant three to four sessions per week in the virtual accelerator, plus coordination with the accelerator mentors. In the physical accelerator the days were filled with coaching sessions, meetings and presentations both made by businesses and by the great flow of people in and around the Expo.

Who could apply?

The call for application was open to the entire world. We wanted the most interesting cases, no matter where they come from.

Important dates?

The following core dates were cruicial to the program. The program developed during the Expo so other events were added. This is an example of early core dates:

  • May 31st, call for application closes
  • 1st week of June, selected companies announced
  • June 20-21st, Milan Hackathon
  • July, Accelerator opening seminar at Copernico and online
  • Aug 31st, Physical accelerator opening at Copernico
  • Sep 29-30, Closing conference with invited investors

In addition to this calendar, there was a daily planning for the accelerator operations, mentoring sessions and related events/speakers.

Premises:

Copernico, a high-end Silicon Valley modeled innovation hub and workspace and a platform for the players of the innovation game. Centrally located, a few minutes walk from the Milan central station (Milano Centrale) with direct connection to Malpensa airport (Malpensa Express), direct buses to Linate airport and easy access to the Expo area through the Milan subway.

Copernico is a workspace of 15.000 sq/m with 1300 work stations for big corporations, freelancers and startups. This included a social floor of 1700 sq/m with restaurant, theatre, club, lounge and fitness center, a 2500 sq/m park and 7 suite apartments.

The accelerator teams had access to the highest level of Copernico membership (black), which meant full access to all parts of Copernico, including the exclusive library and gym. It is a great place for you to bring potential business partners and investors.

Did the accelerator companies get any funds?

No. We offered many things but funds was not one of them. The Accelerator is part of the USA Pavilion, which ultimately represents the US Department of State. And while the USA is the home of entrepreneurship, the government cannot support individual companies with funds or investments, not even for travel and lodging. We are sorry about that.

On the other hand, the program was free for selected teams, the accelerator did not take equity, the mentors contributed their time for free, etc. And we believe it was highly value building for selected teams that seized the opportunity.

Who were the mentors?

Please check out our “People” section. Additional mentors were added continuously.

 

 

Thank you for subscribing!

Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter! We have sent you a verification e-mail. Please follow the instructions and then you will be the first to know what is happening!

Coming Soon

FEEDING THE ACCELERATOR

A USA Pavilion Innovation Program at Expo2015

The program is now closed

Thank you all for making Feeding the Accelerator such an outstanding success and for bringing tech and innovation to the world of food at Expo2015!

Blog

Testing testing

Terms & Conditions

Terms of use for Feeding the Accelerator website

These terms of use govern your use of the website FeedingTheAccelerator.com (the “Website”) including the content at all times available on the Website (“Content”), which is owned and operated by AtelierSlice AB, a Swedish limited liability company with corporate registration number 556863-3233, (“AtelierSlice”) as a part of AtelierSlice’s cooperation with the USA Pavilion Milano 2015 for the [accelerator program] “Feeding the Accelerator” (the “Accelerator Program”).

Please refrain from using the Website and its associated newsletter and online application services should you not accept these terms and conditions. By using the Website you acknowledge that you have read and agreed to these terms of use. Please read these terms of use carefully and please be advised that AtelierSlice may at any time update and revise these terms of use. THIS WEB SITE MAY ONLY BE USED BY INDIVIDUALS EXCEEDING 18 YEARS OF AGE.

Content

The Content is for general information purposes only and shall not constitute an offer or serve as advice of any kind. The Content is provided by AtelierSlice and partners to Feeding the Accelerator and while we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement or availability with respect to the Website or the Content.

Limitation of liability

To the greatest extent permitted by applicable law, AtelierSlice shall not be liable for any loss or damage (including without limitation, direct, indirect or consequential loss) arising out of, or in connection with, the use of the Website or the Content or your reliance thereon.

Availability

Every effort is made to keep the Website up and running smoothly. However, AtelierSlice takes no responsibility for, and will not be liable for, the Website being temporarily unavailable due to e.g. technical issues beyond our control. 

User generated content

Expressions and views provided on the Website by users, by way of example in comments to articles, are the sole responsibility of each specific author. In no case can they be seen as official statements or endorsements by AtelierSlice, the USA Pavilion, US Department of State or any other department or official agency. Please report any misuse or objectionable content on the Website by notifying us on info@feedingtheaccelerator.com.

Intellectual Property Rights

All intellectual Property Rights displayed on the Website and included in the Content (including but not limited to copyright, trademarks and trade names) are the property of AtelierSlice or as relevant the third party owners thereof and you are not granted any license with respect to such intellectual property rights. Unauthorized use of the Content may result in trademark and/or copyright infringement.

Privacy

If and to the extent information that you provide AtelierSlice with contains personal data, we will process such personal data in accordance with applicable law and use the personal data for the sole purpose of evaluating the application to the Accelerator Program and for communication purposes. You may (as a data subject) once a year request and obtain information as regards the personal data relating to you which is being processed by us. You may also (as a data subject) at any time request correction of any incorrect information processed by us to the extent such information is personal data relating to you. Please note that given the nature of the Accelerator Program and the cooperation with the USA Pavilion Milano 2015, personal data will be transferred outside the EU/EES and shared with/transferred to legal and natural persons involved in the evaluation process of the application, in particular in the USA.

Cookies

The Website uses cookies. Cookies are small data files that are saved on your computer. The Website uses cookies in order to measure activity, distinguish users and to store information about your account, the choices you make on the Website and some other information used for design purposes. You may disable cookies in your web browser if you do not accept cookies to be saved on your computer. However, should you disable cookies; the Website may not function properly.

Application to and Participating in the Accelerator Program

You have the opportunity to apply online for a seat in the Accelerator Program provided by AtelierSlice. By filling out and sending in the application you confirm that you have read and accepted these terms of use as amended on the date of your application.

You warrant that all information provided in the application to the Accelerator Program is accurate and true, both regarding projects, achievements and individuals.

Please note that AtelierSlice will not enter into non-disclosure agreements with applicants and does not accept liability for any information or material sent to us. However, we will handle your information with care and do our best to protect all information provided to us.

The Selection Committee appointed by AtelierSlice will evaluate applications having the full right to accept or reject applications in its sole discretion as the Selection Committee finds appropriate.

The Accelerator Program will not include any monetary compensation, either in cash or in kind. The outcome, results or effects achieved due to participation in the Accelerator Program are not in any manner or on any level guaranteed by AtelierSlice. However, our ambition is to make all participating companies a part of shaping the future of food by connecting and supporting teams of entrepreneurs with chefs, artists, academics, and leading industry players in order to create the relevant knowledge, networks, and infrastructure for that purpose.

 

Feeding the Accelerator newsletter

By submitting your contact information you consent to AtelierSlice communicating with you over e-mail or where relevant by other electronic means.

If you have ticked the box that you would like to receive messages from partners to AtelierSlice and the Accelerator Program, you will occasionally receive information from them, sent out by AtelierSlice.

We will never pass on your details to anyone else, unless you give us permission to do so. We will never spam you and we promise to maintain a high standard in our communications with you.

You can at any time un-subscribe from our communication and links for that purpose will be easy to find towards the end of our messages.

 

Governing law and disputes

These terms of use are governed by Swedish law. Any dispute or conflict arising out of your use of the Website shall be settled by the general courts of Sweden with the district court of Stockholm (Sw. Stockholms tingsrätt) as first instance.

Accelerator

The innovation program of the USA Pavilion at Milan EXPO 2015, curated by AtelierSlice with Microsoft – dubbed as the legacy of the World’s Fair in Milan.


Feeding the Accelerator has been the USA Pavilion’s innovation program at Milan EXPO 2015. It was curated by AtelierSlice with Microsoft, in collaboration with FedEx, PepsiCo, Illy and Copernico, on commission from Friends of the USA Pavilion. Following the features of the USA Pavilion, the innovation program was structured to be open and inclusive. It involved entrepreneurial teams from a broad international scene.

More than a traditional business accelerator, this was a group show exhibiting innovative directions as they were being developed, both feeding from and contributing to the rich context of EXPO 2015 — Feeding the Planet – Energy for Life.

Feeding the Accelerator was curated as an innovation model in itself, updating the World’s Fair’s to conditions of a digital era. Instead of exhibiting innovative manufactured objects, as World’s Fairs did initially in the 19th Century, or national narratives, as is mostly the case to day, Feeding the Accelerator focused on generating innovation in the making – and at the same time generate a discussion the possibilities of innovation in our time. Read more about the curatorial approach here.

Feeding the Accelerator selected entrepreneurial teams with unique ambitions to develop new possibilities in areas including farming, food distribution, nutrition, community building, and knowledge sharing to the experience and infrastructures of the partnering companies of the USA Pavilion and the Expo, to develop new business models.

By providing a separate mentorship program from leading industry professionals, as well as chefs, artists, designers and theorists to big corporate structures and start-ups alike, Feeding the Accelerator creates synergies between an entire ecosystem of disciplines around food.

When AtelierSlice produced USA Pavilion Innovation Summit was summarized by former Mayor of Milan, Mrs Letizia Moratti (who also took the initiative to bring the Expo to Milan) and Commissioner General of the USA Pavilion, Ambassador Douglas T Hickey, they clearly stated that Feeding the Accelerator was to be regarded as the legacy of the World’s Fair in Milan, Expo 2015.

The accelerator companies worked, connected, were mentored and presented at Milan Expo 2015 from July 8th until October 1st. The closing USA Pavilion Innovation Summit showcased the program’s activity during the Expo, launching new directions and initiatives to support and sustain innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition to Feeding the Accelerator’s mentors and entrepreneurs, panels featured keynote speaker Josette Lewis, Associate Director of World Food Center at UC Davis; William Perduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh; Ambassador Douglas T Hickey; Paul Matteuci, U.S. Venture Partners Feeding 10 Billion program; Letizia Moratti, former Mayor of Milan; Cedric Mateosyan, entrepreneur and VC; Mia Hägg, architect; Marius Robles of Reimagine Food; Michele Appendino of AME Ventures; Pennsylvania; Marco Gualtieri from Seeds&Chips; Mark Romano, VP of Sustainability at illycaffé; Fabio Santini, Microsoft Developer Experience and Evangelism Lead; and representatives from USA Pavilion partners. For those interested, videos of Day 1 and Day 2, as well as closing remarks from Ambassador Douglas T. Hickey can be found on our vimeo site.

The teams selected for the accelerator were innovative while working on changing the systems and disrupting structures that would have an effect on the way we eat and produce food in the near future. Parallel to carefully selecting ten emerging companies to accelerate, each with a different take on the future of food, we started interviewing people about innovation, mentorship and the needs in today’s society, through the interview series Mentor Minds. Feeding the Accelerator was as a whole structured to feed, execute and discover contemporary innovation within food, so that entrepreneurs would be able to really take advantage of the unique context of the first World’s Fair in food.

Now that we have come to the end of the World’s Fair 2015 and the innovation program, it is even more evident now than when we began that the entrepreneurial teams in Feeding the Accelerator are dealing with complex systems, transforming data and ideas to bring us back to food’s real potential. Disrupting systems means to change what is already out there and make it better, smarter, more efficient. So apart from just making business (like in the old, industrial system), there are many other layers that each company is addressing: social issues, environmental issues, consumer dialogues, legal issues – simply covering the whole beast of a contemporary, connected, global society.

The entrepreneurial teams that made Feeding the Accelerator such a success are as follows:

Cookbooth, creating the world’s largest creative archive of food, for foodies and chefs, to reveal creative processes, promoting better food. This is a user driven platform to structure knowledge about food and to structure knowledge of professional, sustainable cooking.

FoodTrace handles information to re-connect local production with local stores, re-connecting the actors in the food system, generating a new system for business-to-business discovery.

IceDreams uses ice cream as Duchamp used the manufactured object, taking something very common – ice cream – and treating it in a new way, putting it in contact with current technical, business and communication possibilities. IceDreams shows that ice cream can be a tool to health instead of obesity. The artisan skills are codified to match techs striving for a structural change.

Ignitia has the potential of solving very big global problems, the fact that farmers in the tropics are severely hurt by climate change. Using current, available data and reconfiguring it, the farmers receive a simple text message on when to sow their seeds, which potentially can affect more than 3 billion people.

Kalulu is to the fruit and vegetable industry what Airbnb is to the hotel industry and Über to the taxi industry. Using extreme competence in transforming data, they deliver information to reconnect a direct link between farmer and consumer, giving the profit to the one that actually does the job, the farmer, and making the local produce stay local.

Microvita 2015, re-thinks the production process, inventing a new form, a bio-logic, where the largest bio-mass on the planet, insects, is used, and applied to use for large-scale production. Rather than suggesting that we all should start eating insects, they use insects to disrupt the production chain so that fish and chicken are fed in a sustainable way.

Mintscraps has a patent to reveal hidden information about waste in kitchens, leading to more informed decisions, and, generating a better and more sustainable supply chain. It is an information system that creates substantial savings for the users and a more sustainable planet.

Pnat is upheaving the industrial model of separating the urban and the rural. Activating unused, forgotten spots in the city and making them productive, letting production of food move to the place of consumption and at the same time initiating possible temporary injections in and around cities.

Urban Pastoral from Baltimore is a company that develops a new system for urban development, where urban farming is augmented to the next level. Current technology is put in a larger context where real estate, governance and local attraction is generated through an interplay with the city’s different players. Urban Pastoral feeds the city from within the city, the whole beast of the city.

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.01.35 AM

 

 

 

 

Events

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 10.09.02The Microsoft Big Data & IoT Food Hackathon

During the extent of the Expo, creative teams were invited to participate in a series 36-hour hackathons held in Milan. The hackathons focused on different issues – but all relating to food – and had technical experts as well as industry professionals from the food industry in place to help teams create new initiatives, networks and realizable projects. One of these was the Microsoft Big Data & IoT Food Hackathon with challenges for teams such as finding trends in data, the best ways to view data and combining hardware and big data. The event was held June 21-21, 2015 in Milan.

 

 

Embedded image permalink

 

Ice Dreams celebrates Microsoft 10 launch at the US Pavilion

Ice Dreams, one of the selected Feeding the Accelerator teams selected to partipate in the US Pavilion at the World’s Fair Expo in Milan,  presented a wonderful array of Microsoft Windows colors in gelato to celebrate the launch of Windows 10 July 29, 2015 at the U.S. Pavilion.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 10.10.55

Pnat – Jellyfish Barge launch event

The Jellyfish Barge is a modular floating greenhouse for intensive cultivation, able to purify sea water using solar energy. One module consists of a wooden base, floating on recycled plastic drums, supporting a greenhouse, which is surrounded by 7 solar desalination units able to produce up to 150 liters per day of clean fresh water from salt, brackish, or polluted water. Solar panels provide the low energy required to power fans and pumps.

Pnat set off the inauguration of the prototype of the Jellyfish Barge on Tuesday September 15, 2015 at the U.S. Pavilion.

 

 

ThScreen Shot 2015-11-04 at 10.14.27e Fly Show

Microvita develops an alternative, sustainable animal feed which does not compete with human feeding through an ecient industrial system to convert organic by-products into protein feed for livestock using houseflies.

“Fly Show” was a promotional event with Microvita, Feeding the Accelerator, and Design Group Italiaon on September 25t, 2015 at the Design Group Italia studio in Milan.

With “Fly Show ” Microvita stimulated reection on the possible role of insects in the food value chain.

 

 

 

USAScreen Shot 2015-11-04 at 10.18.56 Pavilion Innovation Summit

September 29 – 30, 2015, the U.S. Department of State, the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 and its innovation program Feeding the Accelerator, hosted a two-day event to showcase its activity during the Expo and launch new directions and initiatives to support and sustain innovation and entrepreneurship with panels on innovation and technology across science, culture, business and society. Videos of the event can be found here and here.

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 10.24.49Mentor Minds film at Theater of Copernico

On September 24, 2015, MENTOR MINDS – a film of interviews about mentorship, innovation, and culture was shown at the Theater of Copernico in Milan.

Mentor Minds is a film by Savinien Caracostea in collaboration with Jan Åman, featuring leading figures from a variety of industries including food, art, fashion, business, architecture and urbanism. It is a part of Feeding the Accelerator, the innovation program of the USA Pavilion at Milan EXPO 2015, hosted by Copernico. The interviews constitute a form of virtual mentorship to the program’s selected entrepreneurial teams, and to a global community.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 10.21.21

London Food Tech Week

London Food Tech Week was a week-long celebration and showcase of new trends, ideas and companies transforming food technology and the future of food. For the week of October 16-23, 2015, food tech related events took over some of the hottest venues in central London, featuring a Food and Agtech Sustainibility Hackathon at wework, a TEDxHackney Future of Food at the Ace Hotel, Food of Genius (secret location), panel discussions, workshops, talks and extraordinary experiences.

“Feeding the Accelerator”, the official accelerator of the USA Pavillion Presents at the EXPO 2015 in Milan hosted an event at London Food Tech Week on Monday, October 19, 2015. This event showcased the best of the accelerator program of the USA Pavillion of the EXPO 2015 in Milan.

 

 

Mentor Minds

Mentor Minds is a part of “Feeding the Accelerator”, the innovation program of the USA Pavilion at Milan EXPO 2015. It is a series of short interviews about mentorship, innovation, and culture with leading figures from a variety of industries including food, art, fashion, business, architecture and urbanism.

To visit the site and see the latest interviews, just click here.