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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

New partnership between UC Davis, Barnstorm Foundry aims to discover innovative food technology markets, enhance food access and sustainability

UC Davis graduate students help identify markets for sustainable and healthful foods into the future

 

By LILLY ACKERMAN — science@theaggie.org 

 

A new partnership between UC Davis’s Graduate School of Management, the UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health and venture capital firm Barnstorm Foundry has been formed to identify market spaces for new food products and ingredients that can support a growing world. 

Barnstorm Foundry is a venture firm headed by managing partner Aryeh Ganz, a UC Davis alum, that combines entrepreneurship and science. The firm is trying to identify new market spaces with the help of UC Davis’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) students. 

The market spaces this partnership is looking to emphasize improved nutrition in food products, find ways to adapt ingredients for a changing climate and increase food access for those in need, according to Dean of the Graduate School of Management (GSM) H. Rao Unnava. Solutions like these are becoming more crucial with continued human population growth.

“With the climate changes, with the population growth, with sustainability issues, with water shortages, all these things put together, [in the future] we may not be eating like we are eating today,” Unnava said. “The same vegetables [will not] grow. We cannot continue to eat meat in the quantity that we are eating [it today].”

Unnava gave an example of this type of innovation: a savory snack currently being worked on that would cost about as much as a bag of potato chips. Unlike potato chips, this snack has much less sodium and much more dietary fiber and protein, making it an inexpensive and sustainable — but still nutritious — option. 

Not only is the program a major step in innovation for increased food security in the future, but it also gives the UC Davis MBA program a unique emphasis on food and agriculture science, setting it apart from other programs. According to Unnava, the GSM has been aiming to incorporate these specific elements for several years to highlight UC Davis’s strengths. 

“We have been working on the concept of the MBA program that we have representing UC Davis somehow,” Unnava said. “Is it just one more MBA, or is there something about UC Davis that we can reflect in our MBA program?”

Lucas Haskins, an MBA student at the GSM and one of the members of the first cohort of graduate students to join this market research program, chose UC Davis for his MBA because of its opportunities in food and agriculture. He blogged about his experience working under this new partnership, in which he worked on white papers, or reports to inform and guide readers, identifying market spaces for new food products. 

“The collaboration has opened the opportunity for UC Davis MBA students to critically evaluate several macro-food-industry trends and publish a series of white papers on the market potential within each of them—with the ultimate goal of launching new food products,” Haskins wrote in his blog. “It’s just one of the many extracurriculars and elective courses that are part of the GSM’s Food & Ag Industry Immersion experience.”

Ultimately, this collaboration aims to enhance UC Davis’s MBA program and the university’s potential for innovation in food tech, especially in areas of high need, like sustainability, affordability and nutrition. According to Haskins’ blog, graduate students have already worked on white papers for plant-based milk and ketogenic diet markets, with more to come as the program grows.  

 

Written by: Lilly Ackerman — science@theaggie.org