The LAUNCH Food Countdown Begins

November 18, 2016

Could your innovation help disrupt the way we do food? Learn how to develop and submit your idea here.

As innovators from six continents prepare to send in their LAUNCH Food ideas, we’re taking a look back at the insights we’ve gained and the stories we’ve told since the challenge began. With 20 days left to apply, we invite you to share in some of our learnings.

With LAUNCH Food, we're taking on a problem we've never tackled before: malnutrition. Why? First, it's a huge public health problem. Hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS combined. On the other hand, global obesity levels have more than doubled since 1980, increasing rates of non-communicable diseases. And people in developing countries are more likely to bear the brunt of malnutrition. This is a complex problem that calls for ambitious solutions. To help innovators get a sense of the scale of global malnutrition, we kicked off the LAUNCH Food challenge by taking a walk through the numbers.

To build movements, LAUNCH relies on our network: a global community of experts from across government, industry, and civil society. To inform the development of our challenge, we called on our network members to bring their insights and expertise to the table via a series of “Big Thinks.” These learnings helped guide us as we composed our call for applications. Read our reports from the Sydney and Washington, DC thinks.

Core to the LAUNCH philosophy is that good ideas can come from anywhere. To illustrate this point, we talked to celebrity chef and author Robert Oliver about how chefs can link agriculture to tourism in the Pacific region. By serving traditional local foods to tourist customers instead of imported Western dishes, Oliver believes that chefs working in the Pacific have a unique opportunity to boost regional economies. "[Chefs] can opt to be local champions," Oliver tells us. "One person can make a huge difference."

Could a change of heart start with a pair of VR goggles? LAUNCH has been exploring ways to use emerging technologies to amplify messages around healthy eating and catalyze action to combat malnutrition. In October, LAUNCH and the Australian government's innovationXchange convened a group of digital storytellers and international development experts for the LAUNCH Reality Hack: a summit exploring the utility of 360° video, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and gamification in the service of development and public health. Our hack participants worked in teams to develop pitch ideas, which we documented in a wiki. Read the five key takeaways from the LAUNCH Reality Hack on the Huffington Post.

Right after the Reality Hack, the LAUNCH Food team headed to Timor-Leste. Our goals were twofold: to pilot and get feedback on some of the ideas from the Reality Hack, and to meet with food innovators from across the Pacific Islands. We left Timor-Leste with a wealth of field observations, research, and resources, which we collated to create an open-source report for storytellers, technologists, and innovators interested in emerging technology and development.

Behind every plate is a wealth of traditions. As we kicked off the LAUNCH Food challenge, we wanted to see what healthy eating looks like around the world. So we created a Global Food Diary, asking our network members to send in pictures and stories about healthy recipes that are significant to their region or their culture. In order to find submissions beyond our network, we partnered with World Pulse, a network of women leaders from around the world. We received submissions from Jamaica to Cameroon to the Solomon Islands-- check out our round-up of recipes.

As we source the next generation of LAUNCH innovators, we're inspired by the evolution of innovations from previous cycles. From testing water toxin levels to recycling medicines to growing sustainable packaging materials, see how past LAUNCH innovators are changing the world for good.