Last Friday, Lisbon received for the first time the international event Thought for Food Summit. After two successful editions, one in Brussels and another in Berlin, Lisbon was the chosen one to receive the most ambitious Thought for Food Summit to date. 400 people from more than 20 countries from around the world convened in Lisbon for 2 intense days focused on addressing the question “How can we feed 9 billion people in 2050?”.

The first day was mainly about the state of the art of the food security sector around the world. First, Nicolas Hahn came from the Singularity University to show how exponential technologies are solving the big problems of the world. Then, Sara Menker, Founder and CEO of Gro Intelligence, Roger Thurow, Senior Fellow on Global agriculture and food policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Bram Govaerts Associate Director of the Global Conservation Agriculture Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center talked about what they see happening in the food security space from a data, policy and science perspective.

TFF Panel

By now, you might be asking what food security is. The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”.

In the afternoon, participants had the possibility to attend a variety of workshops. From “Hacking Ag: From Weed to Feed” to “Open Sourcing Food Security” to “Growing Food using Artificial Intelligence” the choices were plenty.

TFF Workshops

Day 2 was all about celebrating the 10 finalist teams from the Thought For Food Challenge that pitched on stage. Hailing from universities in Australia, Brazil, Bangladesh, India, Sweden, Uganda, Canada and the USA, these teams have been selected by an independent panel of judges to move forward to Round 2. This last round included personal mentorship as well as a 3-day Startup Accelerator Program, at Microsoft Portugal, lead by Startup Pirates.

In the end, Team InnoVision was the big winner, taking home $10.000 to develop their project. Comprised of Samiha Zaker, Lamia Anwar Shama, Shafinaz Hossain, and Rubyat Tasfia Rahman, four young women in the Institute of Business Administration in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


In a surprise development, the judges also selected not one, but two runner-ups, with each team winning a $5,000 prize! Team FoPo Food Powder, one of the runner-ups from Lund University in Sweden comprised of Gerald Perry Marin, Kent Ngo and Vita Jarolimkova, three Masters students in Food Innovation and Product Design. Team Aahaar from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay was also awarded the $5,000 runner-up prize for their sensor-aided cold-storage truck service. The team is comprised of Amit Singh Yadav, Swapnil Chougule, Kriti Gupta and Pravesh Kochar, engineering students who are on a mission to reduce food waste by focusing on post-harvest losses. In addition, this team was selected to receive the $5,000 special prize awarded by the Kirchner Food Fellows!

TFF Summit video mapping

TFF Summit closing party with a video mapping show

Here is an overview of the 10 finalist teams:

Team Aahaar

Aahaar is working to reduce post-harvest losses by developing an automated refrigeration truck, which slows the ripening process and ensures more quality product reaches the consumer.

Team C-Fu

C-fu is about seriously engaging consumers on the idea of entomophagy by drawing equivalence between insect derived protein and conventional protein products like soy, fish, chicken, cheese, and beef.

Team Food UP

Food UP! is a new way to grow food in cities even in the smallest of places, by growing food up rather than out. But this isn’t an ordinary vertical farm. Food UP! is small-scale and supported by a peer-to-peer food swapping mobile app to reduce waste and create food conscious communities.

Team FoPo

FoPo Food Powder reduces food waste by turning it into an innovative food product that can be used by people all over the world. FoPo, which works exclusively with produce that would have otherwise been discarded, preserves food through a process of sublimation, or freeze-drying, and turns it into powder.

Team InnoVision

FoodFresh is a solar-powered, micro-climate chamber that can increase the shelf life of fruits and vegetables using an evaporation cooling system. Portable and made of locally available materials, it is an affordable storage alternative to refrigeration that would reduce food loss in developing countries by providing a cooler climate for storing produce.

Team KinoSol

KinoSol is an efficient and easy to use tool that increases nutrition and food security in communities through the world. It is a detachable, mobile, solar dehydrator that dries food for consumption and sale, and has mylar-lined storage to extend the shelf life of the dried food.

Team Microfund

Microfund is a community-based food processing and food exchange platform that facilitates food sharing, exchange and trade among smallholder communities.

Team Siros

Project Siros provides a waterproof, airtight storage space at an affordable cost. Siros is a tough, woven, polypropylene bag that includes a thermochromic label that monitors grain temperature. A reusable, hydrochromic label that varies in color when grain is wet or dry is also placed inside the bag. This solution is the way forward in grain storage.

Team Rooty Roofs

Rooty Roofs is an integrated solution that will reduce the distance between crops and consumers by growing greengrocers on the roofs of urban buildings. Through an agreement based on urban property tax reduction, Rooty Roofs will lease a rooftop and install a specialized unit, which with other roofs will supply local demand, after being processed in a post-harvest station and then distributed to homeowners and markets.


YAIC encourages youth involvement in agricultural activities through a youth center cooperative that implements aquaponics and other innovative agricultural practices to remedy food insecurity.


Photo Credits: Miguel Quesada