Unprecedented Collaboration between Industry and Academia to Explore the Future of Cell Ag

January 25, 2022 - 4 min read

January 25, 2022 — The cultivated food industry has seen record levels of investment and breakthroughs in the past two years. However, academic curricula still do not cover topics that would prepare students for work in this field. The Cultivate Tomorrow initiative aims to help bridge that gap, organizing students from all disciplines to tackle key challenges in the industry through a cellular agriculture-focused hackathon, the first of its kind in the US. Cultivate Tomorrow was initiated and directed by Jasmin Kern, a cultivated food enthusiast and senior studying Chemistry at MIT. In July 2021, she gathered a group of passionate and forward-thinking students across US academic institutions to build this event.

The inaugural Cultivate Tomorrow hackathon is organized into three tracks: scientific communication, advertising strategy, and innovative resource use. Each team of 3-5 students is paired with an industry mentor. The Cultivate Tomorrow team recruited 170 student applicants from around the country last fall, and currently have nearly 130 students participating.

“From conceptualizing the first nation-wide cultivated food hackathon to directing the first iteration of Cultivate Tomorrow, I have gotten to know so many impressive and inspiring people working to revolutionize the food industry. I am thrilled to see how much new talent has been waiting for a chance to step into this industry, and that we can offer them this opportunity,” says Jasmin. 

To conclude the Cultivate Tomorrow Hackathon, the organization will host a virtual pitch day on February 12, 2022. This event will be open to everyone interested in the cultivated food industry, biotechnology applications, and sustainable food and agriculture sectors. The event will feature the hackathon team presentations and awards ceremony. The event is hosting a panel moderated by Danielle Nierenberg, the president of Food Tank, on the ethics of the commercialization of cultivated food products featuring New Harvest Executive Director Isha Datar. To inspire the new generation of students, a panel on navigating entrepreneurship and start-ups is scheduled featuring founders, and intrapreneurs in the industry who will provide insight into running a company in the cell ag industry.

Benny Larson, PhD and VP of Research and Product Development at Wildtype believes that “students need to know that there is a big future here in the new food economy. Bio and chemical engineering students, bioprocess specialists, and others are likely all plotting the career path right now to work in pharma, but we need these folks to take a look at other paths and be able to see cell ag as being able to provide a viable, sustainable future.”

Kicking off the year with this far-reaching event will make 2022 the biggest year for cultivated food and cell ag yet! This event will foster collaboration and partnerships between many important players in the industry from suppliers to food manufacturers, from biotechnology innovation and research to investing and marketing experts.

About Cultivate Tomorrow:

Cultivate Tomorrow is a grassroots initiative launched by students from MIT, Northwestern, Yale, UW Madison, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UVM, and Ohio State University. The Founder and Director is Jasmin Kern, currently an undergraduate senior at MIT studying Chemistry with a focus on Cellular Agriculture. Other organizers include PhD candidates in Biochemistry and Food Sciences, as well as MBA candidates. This interdisciplinary team hopes to spark excitement and support for more sustainable food technologies among students and changemakers. In November 2021, Cultivate Tomorrow became a member of Nucleate, a national student-run organization that empowers biotech founders and facilitates the formation of pioneering life sciences companies. Together with Nucleate, Cultivate Tomorrow will continue to foster collaboration and inspire and empower students with a passion for sustainable food technology.

Partners of Cultivate Tomorrow:

The initiative has attracted involvement from exciting startups and players in the space. Industry mentors include leaders from groundbreaking startups such as Perfect Day, Wildtype, The Every Company, BIOMILQ, Tender Food, Higher Steaks, and Mission Barns. The event is sponsored by Merck KGaA, Turtle Tree, Gingko Bioworks and CULT Food Science.

Organization website: https://www.cultivate-tmrw.com/

Contact: cellag.hackathon@gmail.com 

Event Registration: https://hopin.com/events/cultivate-tomorrow-pitch-day 

Event Partners