Innovators from Foodtech & Supply Chain Join Forces for Sustainability Discussions & Industry Disruption at 1871’s First-Ever Joint Innovation Summits

1871’s Fall 2023 Innovation Summits took place on 10.04.23, focusing on  Foodtech & Supply Chain. These summits are a capstone event for 1871’s Foodtech Innovation Lab & Supply Chain Innovation Lab that includes the public, as well as curated experts. 

With over 650+ registrants, 30+ VCs, and 30+ growth and late stage startups, this event took place at 1871 office in Chicago’s historic Merchandise Mart! View our full recap playlists, including tailored food tech & supply chain interviews from keynotes, partners, lab members, and more.

Our summit anchor partners Accenture (supply chain) and Barrel Ventures (foodtech)supported the day’s wealth of content and discussions that concentrated on solving industry problems with technology and inspiring innovations. 

Running simultaneously, our industry tracks offered participants the chance to “choose their own adventure” for the day, with overlapping fireside and keynotes that united all go-ers under the topics: sustainability & climate change. 

Here’s what went down for both Supply Chain & Foodtech summits: 

  • Startup pitch competitions

  • Tech playgrounds

  • Expert panels 

  • 4-5 breakout rooms

  • Networking

Read on for the best quotes, content, and insights from the day.

Summit Memories: expert content 

Chicago is THE place for supply chain innovation 

According to Michael Lyman, North America Strategy & Consulting Leader at Accenture and member of 1871’s Board of Directors, supply chain has ‘become a tier-one board-level issue’. In terms of disruption, redesigns of a business’ model and footprint,and changes in technology, ‘60% of carbon emission is directly tied back to the supply chain’. 

“It’s the center of the discussion, the debate, and the opportunity that we [Chicagoans] have, and food, where better than Chicago, right?” said Lyman. “We’re bringing the best innovators, investors, corporates, ecosystem partners and advisors together around a common agenda to innovate, and that’s the heart of what we’re trying to do here today.” 

Foodtech innovation spans from the lab to the plate 

From fungi grown in labs to esteemed restaurants across the nation, food innovation was the topic for our morning fireside chat, FoodTech Innovations from Lab to Plate. 

1871’s CEO Betsy Ziegler sat down with Stephanie Izard, executive chef and CEO of This Little Goat and Karuna Rawal, Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer at Nature’s Fynd. Together, they delved into the evolving landscape of the culinary world and the innovative approaches being taken to craft sustainable, delicious food that prioritizes consumer health and well-being, while addressing critical sustainability and climate change issues. 

With over 25 years of experience innovating within the restaurant world, Izard shared her journey of opening several restaurants to extending her brand to consumer packaged goods (CPGs). Her advice for founders? Keep innovating, surround yourself with creative thinkers, and understand the need for change within industries. 

“Enjoying great flavors is important, but it’s also important to look into these [alternative] options as supply chain issues continue and look at the growth of people in the world…  there’s not going to be enough food going around,” said Izard. “Turning something that we take for granted and changing it to something that we can actually sustain with is crucial.” 

On a mission to revolutionize the world of protein and dairy alternatives, Rawal revealed Nature’s Fynds’ accidental discovery of a unique fungus sourced from Yellowstone National Park. Their fungi, named ‘Fy’, has transformed their labs to utilize the untapped resource as a way to give consumers a tasty, and nutrient-packed substitution.

“How do we feed 10 billion people on this planet in the face of climate change? It’s overwhelming, we’re running out of land and water and climate change is a big factor,” said Kawal. “ Food is something so culturally driven, personal, and emotional. There’s a lot of reasons people need alternative choices, and it’s hard to change behavior if food isn’t delicious. We have to change how we eat…we’ve done it throughout history and we’re at another point where we need to do just that.”

Industry experts in food tech and supply chain weigh in on the most important topics in the respective industries

Guest food tech and supply chain experts added their industry insights and expertise to our riveting panel discussions. They delved into current industry trends and emphasized the pivotal role of innovation within the two industries. 

Our food tech panelists discussed Future of Ingredients: Critical Innovations for Feeding 10 Billion People by 2050, moderated by Shayna Harris, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Supply Change, featuring  Alexander Plotkin, Director of Culinary Innovation at Nature’s Fynd , Julia Stamberger, CEO & Co-Founder of Planting Hope, Judith Moca, Head of the Technology Discovery & Development at Kraft, Nate Cooper, Managing Partner at Barrel Ventures, and Greg Hocking, Vice President of Global R&D new innovation territories at Mars Wrigley

Our supply chain panelists discussed Digital Revolution in Supply Chains: Currency Trends and Future Game- Changers, moderated by Patty Riedl, Managing Director- North America Supply Chain & Operations Lead for Accenture, featuring Adam Wisniewski, CEO of EX3 Labs, Antonio Orozco, CTO of Deacero, Reid Jackson, Vice President, Innovation & Partnerships of GS1, and Ryan Murphy, Principal Program Manager of Microsoft, Michael Sachaj, Senior Principal of HPA

For a deeper dive into the dynamic world of food tech and supply chain, guest session leaders hosted a series of captivating breakouts, including:

  • From Ideas to Impact: Fostering an Innovation Culture to Create Value 
  • Data-Driven Supply Chains: Unleashing the Power of AI 
  • Smart Products, Smarter Supply Chains: The IoT Revolution 
  • Rethinking Supply Chains: Adapting to a Changing World 
  • How  Emerging Technologies are Creating More Efficient and Resilient Supply Chains 
  • Saving the Planet – One Wrapper at A Time 
  • Nourishing Change: FoodTech for A Sustainable Future 
  • Flavors of Innovation: A FoodTech Investor Panel 

Data is key for supply chain innovation

To close out the day, Betsy Ziegler was joined by Gail Crockett, Operations & Supply Chain Officer at Cleveland Avenue for our afternoon fireside chat, Big Mac to Big Impact: Supply Chain Leadership

Having successfully directed and overseen supply chain operations for global giants like McDonalds, where she played a pivotal role in the inception of the McCafe, Crockett has transitioned to a new chapter with a focus on startups. She shares her wealth of expertise with pre-IPO businesses, assisting them in accelerating their revenue and monetizing more quickly at Cleveland Avenue. 

Crockett has extensive experience in managing supply, product, and transportation optimization alongside business-driving programs in the food and beverage service and packaging and manufacturing industries. Her advice for innovation? It’s not necessary to be the first to invent something, but it’s fair game to borrow and make it better – just be transparent with your customers!

“We all know data is important. Data management, collection, and knowing what to do with that data is critical. Thinking about supply chain after being in business for a year or two – you have to play catch up. But if you build [traceability] systems from the beginning, it can be much smoother,” said Crockett. “The provenance and understanding of where something comes from and how it moves across the supply chain is important and leads to transparency. That’s where the critical trends are.”  

Summit memories: startup pitch competition & tech playground

The top 16 founders from our 2023 Supply Chain Innovation Lab cohort & Foodtech Innovation Lab cohort pitched their startups to showcase how they’re revolutionizing the supply chain and food tech realm and driving innovation with their solutions. 

Congratulations to our pitch winners PlantSwitch, pitched by CEO & Founder Dillon Baxter and The Rubic Technologies, pitched by CGO Luke Buckberrough

Audience members voted live for their favorite pitches, which were awarded to AWSM Sauce,  pitched by Co-Founder Carl Starkey and ConnectSX, pitched by CEO & Founder Chris Riedel

Attendees were treated to the opportunity to explore revolutionary products and solutions at our startup alley & tech playground. Pioneering lab cohort members were stationed at booths offering live product demonstrations, and were able to engage in conversations with potential investors and collaborators. 

The day ended with a celebration of the winning pitches, closing remarks from 1871 and a happy-hour after networking event.

Thank you to our Innovation Lab partners in foodtech and supply chain who made our 2023 Fall Innovation Summit amazing: Accenture, Barrel Ventures, Microsoft, Deacero, World Business Chicago, Rheaply, Arkestro, Super Dispatch, Canadian Consulate, Flock Freight, Farmers Fridge, Human Co and Planting Hope

We’ll see you next year for our 2024 Foodtech Innovation Summit & Supply Chain Innovation Summit! 

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