Leap enters pilot with ZHAW Master students

Vegetables out of a paper bag

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In September, Leap by digitalswitzerland kicked off their collaboration with students pursuing their MSc BA Innovation & Entrepreneurship at ZHAW in Winterthur. Together, we are organising a workshop centred around Food Waste & Systems, taking place on 18 November 2021 in Bern.

The students from ZHAW MSc BA Innovation & Entrepreneurship and the Leap team, digitalswitzerland’s Collaborative Innovation programme, act hand-in-hand . Both have identified that the complex challenges of today demand innovative solutions, developed by multiple stakeholders. Tackling these challenges and implementing their solutions alone is hardly an option; instead, transversal multi-stakeholder collaboration is needed.

Students gain practical experience

The pilot project is a debut for the Leap team, which has started to work together closely with a group of five students. The pilot runs throughout one semester. During this time, students get to work on real multi-stakeholder projects tackling pressing systemic challenges. As part of ZHAW’s «Innovation & Venture Lab: Innovation Systems» the students invest around 900  working hours to conduct a system analysis, based on existing networks and projects. In the end, they will develop a prototype of a digital artefact – such as a website, strategy paper, video, etc. – to support the developed solution to a challenge.

One of the areas that the students work on with Leap is food waste and digitalisation on the consumer side. The students have to define the main focus and goals for the workshop on 18 November. To do so, they are in direct contact with participating stakeholders, such as WWF, Swiss Food Nutrition Valley or Coop. Through interviews, the students will identify the most pressing challenges during the fight against food waste. Finally, the upcoming workshop is intended to help Switzerland reach the goal of cutting its food waste in half by 2030 (bafu.admin).

Food Waste and its consequences

Food Waste is gaining attention due to its environmental impacts since it is no longer a secret that uneaten food produces additional CO2 emissions. According to a study, conducted by the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich),  annual food waste makes up 25% of Switzerland’s whole nutrition-related footprint. 

The Federal Office for the Environment (Source: bafu.admin) reports that 2.8 million tons of avoidable food waste are generated annually in Switzerland at all stages of the food chain, while the consumer counts as one of the three biggest producers of avoidable food waste.

What is meant by  “avoidable food waste”? Avoidable food waste is food that is still edible. For example, if we throw away a yogurt because it says on the package it has expired, but it might still be sanely edible, it is counted as avoidable food waste. On the other hand, inedible food components such as bones or fruit kernels are considered unavoidable food waste.

According to the above-mentioned study by the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), the cost of avoidable food waste in Swiss households is over CHF 600 per person per year. Projected to the whole of Switzerland, this is over CHF 5 billion, not including food losses at other stages of the food chain.

While organisations such as Too Good To Go help fight food waste in gastronomy and retail, there is no such solution in place for households for example.  However, if we want to look at food waste on the consumer side, we need to focus on the whole customer journey. How can we motivate people to buy the weirdly shaped carrot? Who takes home the apple with dents? What tools can help the consumers to only buy as much as they can eat in time? And, what digital technologies might already be in place to enable consumers to reduce food waste?

How can you join the workshop?

We will bring together industry players to identify existing or new digital solutions to reduce food waste on the consumer side to enable the ecosystem. Maybe you are already fighting food waste and could use support from the ecosystem? Or, would you like to contribute your ideas? If you are ready to fight food waste with digital solutions, this workshop is for you!

Join us on 18 November, from 9 am – 12 pm at ImpactHub in Bern. We look forward to your participation and a fruitful exchange. Save one of the limited spots and sign up here – first come, first served.

Author: Melanie Holenweger

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