Nutrition experts, industry representatives, founders or software developers - we believe together we can shape the future of nutrition. This is why we organised our first Nutrition Hackathon from 3rd - 5th July 2019 in Berlin. We are impressed what can be achieved in only 48 hours. The journalist, Shane Starling, attended the hackathon and wrote about it for us and nutraingredients. Here is his perspective on the hackathon:
Nutrition Hub showed what can be achieved in rapid time at its Nutrition Hackathon, where teams had just two days to crunch their personalised nutrition ideas into practical and science-backed app and product prototypes: The sold-out event split 30 German and European nutrition researchers and innovators into six teams. All teams were guided through a condensed 2-day version of the Google-created Design Sprint product development model by NO BS Innovation founder Hany Rizk. On the final day the teams had to present their ideas in front of on audience consisting of the participants and external guests from health insurances, startups and investors who rated the solutions in real-time.
The winning team (1st) developed a prototype of the app Bevust: It transforms retailer-held shopping data into user-friendly stats, trends and recommendations to guide better nutrition and sustainability choices such as carbohydrate and plastic consumption. By using an already existing and reliable data set – the retailers – Bevust solved one of the great challenges of the Hackathon – how to gather, calibrate and present a reliable nutrition data set that people would trust enough to pay for. Other winning concepts included:
HappyPregnant – an app to guide nutrition choices for pregnant women, or women considering becoming pregnant (2nd)
An app to mesh food consumption data and nutrition science into actionable food choices called Science4Me. (3rd)
The event kicked off on Wednesday evening at the app-driven, waiterless DataKitchen restaurant and conference space in central Berlin with our co-founder Simone telling the assembled food hackers the world “had entered a new era of nutrition” with the rise of social media, tech-driven solutions and the advance of nutrition science. The potential of merging nutrition and technology had to elevate personalised nutrition solutions – to make them tangible in the places people make food choices; to change lives for the better. “Take workplaces: How do you connect a personalised nutrition plan with what you eat at work? So that is connecting point-of-sale with your personal preferences and diagnostics – it’s about what you want to eat and finding access to it, then measuring how well you are nourished and creating a feedback loop. The interesting part today is combining nutrition and technology. Food is the product to nourish yourself but there is a much broader perspective with nutrition. That’s the potential we are all about at Nutrition Hub.”
Nard Clabbers, Hackathon mentor and senior business developer in personalised nutrition and health at Dutch food research house, TNO, said the power and ubiquity of apps was “allowing people to make better food choices in online and physical retail environments.” The manner in which apps which included vital nutrition information had drastically improved the lives of diabetics was just one example. Hackathon mentor and leading personalised nutrition consultant, Dr Mariette Abrahams, founder of Qina, said even at product development level in commercial cultures both large and small, nutritionist input is gaining of importance as it helps to improve health outcomes.
The Hackathon was held at the year-old Food Tech Campus – a space created by giant German retailer Edeka to host food and nutrition start-ups and interact with them. Head tech-scout at Food Tech Campus Jan Lingenbrinck said about 100 nutrition, food, food tech and food service start-ups were engaged with the Campus and benefitting from the variety of office facilities along with access to experts, mentors and food champions as well as Edeka’s own vast data stores and product selection processes and protocols. "We have a food start-up platform which is a B2B marketplace where you can add your start-up product and we test it to see if it is marketable and has all the right certificates. If it is successful there it can be added to the regular product list.”
Other partners of the Hackathon included the EU-funded European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT Food) as well as Munich pharma and supplements business Protina and large German dairy DMK. "We are more and more interested in preventative health and nutrition so it’s great to see all the creativity and speed here and to interact with future founders,” a spokesperson for Protina said.
The next Nutrition Hackathon will take place in 2020. Stay tuned!
About the author
Shane Starling is a journalist and analyst with a specialisation in food, nutrition and technology. He is the former senior editor of NutraIngredients, FoodNavigator and other publications in the food and nutrition space. He is the founder of communications agency, StardustKomms.com. A west Australian, he lives in Berlin, Germany. He likes cycling and wok cooking and thinks better nutrition is an under-utilised superpower.