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Unlocking food’s dark matter

March 29, 2022

It is often said that the food system is broken.

It is not broken.

Instead, it was designed over time to effectively and efficiently produce and distribute safe, inexpensive, and highly caloric food. While hunger has been materially reduced over the last century, the food system was designed without sufficient knowledge of downstream nutritional and environmental impacts. We are only now gaining a full understanding of the food system’s downstream effects on human and planetary health. These parallel paths now have an opportunity to converge and reconcile for nutrition security and better human and planetary health solutions.

The recent explosion in nutritional science is providing a new understanding of the food-health nexus. This has created new opportunities to harness scientific breakthroughs, advanced technologies, and novel methodologies in order to set a new foundation for how food, nutrition, lifestyle, and human health are inextricably bound.

Simultaneously, scientific advances in agriculture, food, and nutrition — as well as the emerging revolutions in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and human feedback systems — are unlocking and elucidating the complexity of these systems. By leveraging new tools and innovations, we can lower the prevalence and cost of diet-related diseases, provide therapeutic and preventative interventions for human health, an d counter the economic drag resulting from inadequate nutrition; all while emitting fewer greenhouse gases, boosting resilience to climate change, and preserving biodiversity.

That’s why FoodShot Global and our partners have selected BioActive Foods as our next FoodShot. With this new ‘moonshot for better food,’ we are seeking to invest in, catalyze the development of, and improve access to nutrient-dense and optimized bioactive foods supporting human health (brain, immune system, cardiovascular, metabolic, and gut), while also taking into account production practices to protect human and planetary health.

Apply now for FoodShot Global’s BioActive Foods here.

The future of food is… food

Bioactive foods is an area that many of our partners are already investing in through their portfolios and other initiatives. Our partners at Cornucopian Capital, for instance, believe that “metabolic health for everyone is an idea whose time has come. Investing to make high quality bioactive foods accessible for all is critical to realizing this potential.” The Rockefeller Foundation sees the focus on bioactive foods as “an incredible opportunity to better understand the spectrum between food and medicine,” and it complements their efforts to “broadly expand the understanding of the effects of food composition on human and planetary health, through The Periodic Table of Food Initiative.”  The new FoodShot “further elevates the importance of diet on health and prevention of non-communicable diseases through food and its bioactive constituents,” according to Bernhard van Lengerich, founder of the Seeding the Future Foundation.

It also “fits the PeakBridge VC investment strategy, which includes improving nutritional decisions, consumer health, and wellness through products or services with proven health benefits, such as functional food supplements with clinical benefits.”

The Peakbridge investment portfolio already includes relevant companies Ukko (designing proteins that do not trigger an immune response, and applying those proteins to food and therapeutics), Iwi (creating a source of omega-3 fatty acids that facilitates the highest absorption into the body), and Prenexus Health (developing and producing prebiotic ingredients), among others.

Other venture partners, including Novo Holdings, Acre Venture Partners, and The Yield Lab Europe, also have bioactive foods-aligned investments in their portfolios: from companies seeking new and diverse sources of carbohydrates, and those upcycling ‘waste’ into active and functional ingredients, through to microbiome discovery platforms and behavioral interventions that leverage artificial intelligence to improve nutritional quality.

Our university partners are also eager to dig into bioactive foods.

“Our deepening understanding of our body biochemistry — and the role of bioactive foods in it — is unlocking the potential for a happier, healthier, and longer life,” says the UC Davis’s Innovation Institute for Food & Health on its website. “Frustratingly, most people are instead seeing the opposite come true – affected by a global disease epidemic of massive proportions, driven by series of metabolic dysfunctions and missed opportunities.”

Similarly, Wageningen University notes that “healthy food and the living environment being [our] core domain, [we] recognize and celebrate the importance of taking a systemic and multidisciplinary lens to advance research on foods and lifestyle that contribute to improving human health while preserving planetary health.”

And our partners at AgriFutures Australia celebrate bioactive foods for focusing “on using natural, existing opportunities that have broad health and nutritional benefits while also protecting planetary health.”

Faeth raises $20 million from Khosla, AgFunder to battle cancer with food – read more here

Fundamentally, our bioactive foods framework presents an opportunity to support innovations in human, agricultural, and systems health by leveraging biotechnology, machine learning, and human feedback systems, all while empowering conscious consumer choices. As our partner Mars puts it: “FoodShot’s platforms are critical to ensuring we surface the best thinking and capability being developed in service of wicked challenges. This latest platform is a great example of how we can understand up-and-coming thinking and startups that are addressing the latest developments in nutrition and human wellness. Precision health management is just the next frontier to be developed.”

FoodShot Global is currently accepting applications from for-profit businesses interested in equity investment from our venture partners. We are also seeking nominations of researchers, early-stage entrepreneurs, and policy advocates for the $500,000-plus GroundBreaker Prize. In addition to our BioActive Foods FoodShot, we are accepting applications and nominations for our Innovating Soil Deep Dive and Precision Protein Deep Dive FoodShots.

Apply now!

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