Thinking about the future of food

The Embassy of the Netherlands in Latvia is cooperating with local and regional partners to promote creative and innovative solutions to realize a sustainable food transition.

On February 18-19, the Dutch Embassy in Latvia co-organized a 24 hour hackathon on the theme of the Future of Food, focusing on the topics of food waste, circular economy, digitalization and new foods. Together with local partners from the Riga Technical University Design Factory, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia, Helve, and the regional supermarket chain RIMI, we managed to make this a truly international event. We are also very thankful for the support of the Regional Business Development team for the Baltics/Nordics. In the end, more than two hundred people applied of whom one hundred were invited to join the hackathon.

Image: Ansis Vegners, 18-2-2020
The crowd of participants filled the space up nicely

Next to participants and mentors from the Baltic and Nordic regions, there was also a considerable Dutch delegation to the hackathon. Three Dutch mentors were present to help the contestants work out their ideas. Sandra van Kampen from ‘de Schaal van Kampen’ and Chantal Engelen from ‘Kromkommer’ gave keynote presentations, while Sabine de Witte from the Dutch Startup Association, headed a pitching workshop. There were several Dutch participants - two of whom have their own startup business to combat food waste - Rogier Dop from Glorious Bastards and Vladislav Mazur from Cupbite. The other Dutch participants were students from the prestigious Delft and Wageningen universities.

The winning team, Jar Buddies, was awarded five thousand euros by RIMI to develop their idea and one team member was also given the chance by the Dutch Embassy in Latvia to travel to Amsterdam for The Next Web conference in June. The Dutch accelerator, Rockstart, participated by being on the jury and providing a mentoring prize to the winning team. The winners, which include a Dutch student, had a very creative solution for facilitating the at-home fermentation process by creating an online platform for sharing the required bacterial cultures to make different types of food.

Image: Ansis Vegners, 19-2-2020
Jar Buddies, the lucky winners of the hackathon

The success of the hackathon and the presence of our Dutch delegation provided the opportunity for a reception at the Ambassador’s residence on the evening after the event, February 19. All of the food was vegetarian and sustainable. At the reception our Dutch guests had the opportunity to meet Baltic and Nordic stakeholders from the field, and the Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia was the guest of honor. Our mentors and partners were happy and already propositions have been made to continue cooperation on this topic.

The hackathon was a side-event of the regional start-up/tech event in Riga called TechChill, February 20-21, to which the Embassy was an official partner and was present with a stand in the business expo site. A good-sized group of Dutch speakers, moderators and companies participated at TechChill, while also taking part in the Embassy networking event. The Embassy continues work on the theme of sustainability and circular economy, while promoting linkages between the start-up eco-systems of the Netherlands and Latvia.

Senior Economic Officer Indra Freiberga promoting the Netherlands at TechChill 2020

If you would like to learn more about doing business in Latvia, do feel free to listen to the podcast prepared by  Grenzeloos Ondernemen which includes the participation of Ambassador Govert Jan Bijl de Vroe (in Dutch).