Archived Webinar

Digital Ag Series : Building an Innovation Ecosystem to Transform Food Systems

"An opportunity to highlight alternative protein and food processing companies (Veggie Victory and Blendhub) and discuss challenges and opportunities in developing alternative protein-based products and business development in emerging markets."

The Data-Driven and Digital Agriculture Team has launched a new, monthly FoodTech Innovation Webinar Series! FoodTech is the intersection of agriculture, food, and technology along the value-chain from harvest, storage, processing to distribution and retail. FoodTech has promising potential to facilitate the transition of agri-food systems to meet both consumers' demands and sustainable development goals. A diverse range of speakers and discussants from industry, academia, and policy will analyze the various challenges and opportunities in the ecosystem. The second webinar in the series provides a deep dive into the rapid transformation of the “hidden middle” of food systems particularly in LMICs led by SMEs (Michigan State University). Additionally, there will be discussions on alternative and plant-based proteins across the FoodTech and nutrition sector while evaluating and assessing the potential to scale innovations along the value-chain and from one region to another. Demand for human food and animal feed has steadily increased, particularly in developing countries. Alternative protein and plant-based meat alternatives are projected to gain a significant share in global diets and have potential to reduce carbon emission and resource use. The webinar provides an opportunity to highlight alternative protein and food processing companies (Veggie Victory and Blendhub) and discuss challenges and opportunities in developing alternative protein-based products and business development in emerging markets.

Michigan State University and the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics is addressing societal policy questions and solving practical problems for producers, consumers, and the environment in Michigan and around the world.

Veggie Victory is Nigeria’s first plant-based food tech company bringing people a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle through plant-based meats and meals. Since 2013, Veggie Victory has been surprising Lagosians with veganized Nigerian culinary delicacies and expanding from a restaurant to retail level.

Blendhub is a platform for food production services. It helps food companies, brands, and raw material providers in the development and launching of their products. Originating from Spain, they now have operations in India, Colombia and Mexico. 

About the Presenters

Parmesh Shah

Global Lead, World Bank 

Parmesh Shah is the Global Lead for Data Driven and Digital Agriculture at the World Bank. He provides leadership and supports the development of global knowledge and learning in these areas to offer solutions to clients and other development partners. His current areas of interest are making markets and public services work for the poor, social entrepreneurship, digital and data-based innovations in agriculture and rural development, climate smart agriculture, agriculture and technology enabled start-ups, venture and patient capital for innovation, promotion of on-farm, off-farm and digital jobs and public-private and people partnerships for rural poverty reduction. He is currently involved in developing a global program on scaling up data driven digital agriculture involving data platforms and establishing ecosystems for innovation, entrepreneurship and incubation. He holds a DPhil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and a BTech degree in Agricultural Engineering from Pantnagar in India.  

Thomas Reardon

Professor, Michigan State University

Thomas Reardon is a University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University, Fellow of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA), and Honorary Life Member (equivalent of Fellow) of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE). Tom has been at MSU since 1992; IFPRI Research Fellow 1986-1991; Rockefeller Foundation Post-Doc with IFPRI in Burkina Faso 1984-1986; and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1984. Tom has studied the transformation of food value chains for the past 25 years. Since the mid-2000s a particular focus has been on the midstream of supply chains, including the dynamic development of SMEs (and large firms) in wholesale, logistics, processing, and agricultural services. Tom worked since 1981 on Africa, Asia, and Latin America, staying 21 years in those regions. Tom is in Who’s Who in Economics; was featured on the front page of the New York Times; was the first agrifood economist invitee to the World Economic Forum in Davos; has more than 40,000 citations (in top 3 in agricultural economics) and H index of 93 in Google Scholar; and ranks in the top 1.5% of the 65,000 economists followed globally in IDEAS/REPEC.

Hakeem Jimo

Co-Founder, Veggie Victory

Hakeem Jimo is a vegan entrepreneur and co-founder of VeggieVictory - Nigeria's pioneer plant-based food company. Hakeem has a Masters degree in Journalism from the University of Hamburg. Previously, he worked as a journalist and public relations consultant in West Africa. Hakeem co-founded VeggieVictory in 2013, starting as a vegan restaurant, before introducing VegChunks, the first commercially produced meat substitute in Nigeria, available now in many stores nationwide. Today, VeggieVictory is a full-fledged vegan company offering 100% plant-based, high protein products with Africa at heart.

Henrik Stamm Kristensen

Founder, Blendhub

Henrik Stamm Kristensen, founder of Blendhub, Portable Powder Blending (PPB) and Chemometric Brain, a Dane who has lived in Spain for almost 30 years, has spent his entire professional career in the agri-food sector. A serial food tech entrepreneur disrupting the broken food value chain by deploying a global network of multi-localized Food-as-a-Service hubs with the purpose of feeding all people in all places, sustainably. Focusing on accelerating the expansion of new hubs closer to ingredients suppliers and closer to final consumers facilitating for any food company the launch of new food recipes adapted to local preferences and pricing anywhere in the world, and doing it faster, safer, and cheaper than ever before. Adding a completely new dimension to food safety and food security by using a novel software solution, capable of digitizing food quality which ensures our customers and platform partners digitally verifiable trust in transparent supply chains. Recognized among many prizes as one of the world's most promising circular economy initiatives by WCEF, SITRA and Deloitte, and recently featured by World Economic Forum as a leading example of sustainable social impact.

Yvonne Pinto

Digital Agriculture and Innovation Specialist, World Bank

Yvonne Pinto is a lead digital agriculture and innovation specialist, supporting the Data-Driven Digital Agriculture team of the Food and Agriculture Practice at the World Bank. She has 25+ years of experience in agricultural innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. She has led work to understand the digital agriculture landscapes within 22 African countries from the policy and enabling environment perspective to the Agri Tech innovators and solutions, to accelerators/incubators and digital skills providers in these countries. For the last 12 years, she has led Aline Impact Limited, a strategy, and impact measurement firm, assessing the effectiveness of innovations and ecosystems in the agriculture sector. She has focused on identifying what works for whom and why and used data, evidence, and learning to create strategic opportunities for many organizations including private philanthropic foundations, UN agencies, DFIs, NGOs, Mastercard, GSMA, and Vodafone, bilateral donors, the private sector, and farmer organizations. Previously, she was employed as the Africa Executive at the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and as an Agriculture Development specialist at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for over 15 years, managing portfolios in breeding and seed systems, IPM, and women’s economic empowerment, and key institutional relationships. She is also a mentor and advisor to health and life sciences enterprises in Europe and in Africa.

Questions Submitted


- Aug 17, 2022

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