As with many problems in the commons, the problem of food security has no one owner or one solution. To widen the lens around this issue and explore unconventional avenues of innovation, the CollaborateUp team partnered with Net Impact — a leading nonprofit that empowers their vast student and young professional network to drive transformational change in the workplace and the world. Together, we bring leading companies in the food, water and agriculture industries to university campuses around the country. With our cadre of student participants, we co-create powerful and realistic solutions addressing the challenges around global food security.

SolutionsLabs to Nourish 9 Billion by 2050 launched at Tufts University with great success thanks to our impressive group of participants. On April 17th, 50 students from a wide range of disciplines came together to learn about this issue and develop their own solutions. The session began with expert panelists sharing their experiences and insights, including Professor Timothy Griffin from Tufts University, Dr. Daniel Goldstein MD from the Monsanto Company, Jose Maria Silva from Conservation International, and Dr. Ku McMahan PhD from USAID. Using the CollaborateUp Formula for accelerated problem solving, the students then broke into groups and devised social innovations to tackle the issues to solve. They pitched these innovations to our panel of experts — detailing how the ideas below could be potentially transformative solutions.

Our first group proposed “Farming by SMS”, a market development strategy to incentivize smallholder farmers to input and share information via SMS. Their objective was to improve productivity and profit over the long-term.

The following group pitched their “Fitbit for Sustainable Consumption”, a fun and engaging game for consumers to analyze and improve their consumption patters. Similar to many apps currently on the market, this technology would track habits throughout the day with the objective being to reduce the footprint of it’s wearer.

“The Ikea of Food Prep” came next, with this group suggesting a modular, paint-by-numbers approach to grocery shopping. Consumers would be provided with color-coded boxes (green for produce, red for meat, etc.) to ensure they have what’s needed to prepare nutritious meals and in turn a well-balanced diet.

Our next group proposed “Sustainability Badges for Consumers & Shareholders”- a consumer-friendly certification “badge” to communicate a complex profile of sustainability statistics for food products in an easy-to-understand format.

The last group came up with “Sourcing from the Bottom of the Pyramid” to engage companies to make better decisions throughout their supply chains and more actively source from farmers at the bottom.

Each group received a wealth of feedback from our panelists and their peers. Read more about the Nourishing 9 Billion program here.