Mission Focus: Food, Farming, and Fishing
Sectors within food systems are ripe for innovation – not just to mitigate further environmental harm, but to adapt businesses within these sectors to ensure they are prepared for the changes caused by our environmental crisis. Read on to learn more about how Zinc approaches environmental entrepreneurship in the food, farming and fishing sectors.
Food Systems and Climate Change
Food systems activities, such as producing food, transporting and storing wasted food in landfills, emit between 21-37% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is mainly due to animal production and deforestation for more agricultural land. At the same time, the conditions of the climate crisis reinforce existing food system inequalities and increase food insecurity.
Population growth in particular is leading to an increased consumption of meat and dairy products, meaning the GHG emissions of food systems are expected to rise by almost 90% by 2050. This means that unless we revolutionise food systems, the Paris Agreement goals are unattainable.
Whether via AgriTech, FoodTech, or mobilising grassroots skills and methods, we urgently need innovative methods to transform current food systems. We also need a better understanding of what might affect the scaling ability of climate solutions within the food, farming, and fishing industries. This is why this sector is one of the 4 we are focusing on in our next Venture Builder, with the mission to transform the industries that most impact our environmental crisis.
Innovation Across the Value Chain
Innovation is urgently needed to help these industries reduce emissions, pollution and harm to our natural ecosystems, and increase the resilience of food systems to the effects of climate change.
Progress has begun with new and emerging technologies well spread across the food system, from production processes right along the value chain to consumers. These technologies span myriad domains, including cellular agriculture, digital agriculture, aquaculture, food processing and safety, gene technology, replacement food and feed, and waste reduction.
For example, Inverlussa Marine Services, based on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, has deployed the UK’s first full-hybrid aquaculture service vessel. The Laurence Knight is estimated to use around one third less fuel each year than a diesel vessel, that represents a saving of almost 90,000 litres of fuel a year. This equates to a reduction in equivalent carbon dioxide emissions of over 234 tonnes per year.
In the US, Apeel Sciences is accelerating the preservation of fresh produce with plant-derived shelf life extension technology. By helping fruits and vegetables last two times longer, they’re poised to have a significant impact on reducing the amount of food that ends up in landfill (which in the UK alone amounts to 9.5 million tonnes per annum).
However, there are still significant opportunities to innovate and create business to business (B2B) commercial companies that will impact this industry.
Research has established several areas of innovation that are poised to have massive impacts in this area. These include pest/disease early warning systems and circular economy approaches for reutilising, recycling and repurposing resources.
A recent EU policy brief highlights several adaptation and mitigation action points, including amplifying efforts for sustainable land management (SLM), such as water-efficient irrigation methods, drought resistant crop cultivars and crop diversification. The brief also suggests supporting urban and peri-urban agriculture, which will reduce GHG emissions from food transportation and enable fixation of atmospheric nitrogen and carbon.
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At Zinc, we understand that this action must be taken now. We want to find and support the talented individuals who can drive this change. That’s why we are supporting 70 passionate people to become environmental entrepreneurs on our 12-month, London-based Venture Builder, launching in October 2022. This ambitious cohort will build new B2B businesses from scratch to help transform the food, farming, and fishing industries with up to £250k in funding, access to Zinc’s ecosystem and guidance from 100+ visiting fellows. You can learn more at our website or join us at an event.
Applications are open now for our fifth venture builder cohort. If you are passionate about transforming the food, fishing and farming sectors to reduce their environmental impact and help businesses to mitigate against the effects of climate change, please put in an application today.
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To Eliminate Environmental Threats to Our Health
Environmental health threats pose a grave danger to human health and well-being, causing suffering to individuals and communities worldwide. These threats, which include chemical pollution, climate change, and biological hazards, cause acute and chronic diseases and exacerbate existing health conditions.
To protect those we care about, we must tackle the causes of environmental degradation, shield people from the consequences of environmental harm, and, where protection fails, we must mitigate the health impacts they suffer.
This demands action to improve all aspects of our environment: soil, food, air, water, and the built environment. It requires us to focus on every aspect of human health to reduce suffering.
Entrepreneurship and technology are powerful means to tackle these challenges. That’s why we are backing 70 founders to build innovative companies addressing this mission.
Transforming people’s financial resilience and turning uncertainty into opportunity
Many people have been suffering a cost of living crisis for decades. This year, that crisis has spread to most of the population, causing a major shock across the developed world.
Whilst the immediate issues of rising energy costs and the COVID pandemic have tipped a lot of people over the edge, the underlying economic insecurities have been building for a long time.
Even before the energy and COVID crises, 100m people in Europe and 90m in the US were financially fragile. They wouldn’t be able to pay an unexpected bill today of $400, access $2000 within 30 days if they need it, or pay for food and basics if they’re out of work for 8 weeks.
In this mission, we want to empower middle-aged people to turn uncertainty into opportunity, to seize technology and make it work for them, to reinvent their lives (not be reinvented by others) and to achieve the financial security they need to navigate their own way through a changing and uncertain world.