Agri-food Circular Systems: the FFI Ecosystem. Education, Community and Innovation: the three ingredients to weave regenerative Agri-food systems.
Silos thinking and short-termism have for long pervaded the agri-food system, generating the excesses and malfunctionings we all know today. Rethinking the whole food supply chain through the lenses of sustainability means at first build bridges of dialogue and cross-pollination among all the players, opening towards new forms of collaborations: multidimensional, multicultural, intergenerational “co-opetitions”.
To implement new regenerative agri-food system models, the Future Food Institute (FFI) operates by connecting the dots of the global food ecosystem. Through Education, its first pillar, it contributes to raise awareness and build a new mindset at different levels: secondary and middle school students (ConviviumLab, KidsLab K12), food actors and today’s global citizens (Food Innovation Program, Boot Camp on Smart Kitchens); the global society (Research Initiative on Food Loss&Waste).
Through events and hackathons developed in its Living Labs, the Institute inspires, connects and feeds the Global Community to take collective actions (Waste2Value Hackathon, Hack Waste Rome, Hack for SDGs, Chockothon, Voices of Food Systems Live Marathon, Food for Earth Day event, Zero Waste Global Convivium digital event).
Through innovation, its third pillar, the FFI contributes finding solutions to multi-corporate challenges through research, new product development, fast prototyping Testing&Validation (Waste2Value, SmartRipe, The Wise Kitchen, FoodAlchemist Team, fermentation bar).

Resources needed

Infrastructure: renting costs for the physical spaces.
Human Resources: a general coordinator, an innovation manager, a communication manager and project managers.
General costs: for functioning, communication, travels, consumables etc.
Costs vary according to the local context and structure.

Evidence of success

For educational programs FFI has developed a pioneering tool to measure the impact generated (3D measuring the width, length and depth of the impact). Its hackathons on circularity have reached over 400 participants including students, startuppers, businesses and institutional partners. The only Italian-based Living Lab hosted more than 30,000 people, developed nearly 25,000 innovative recipes to embrace circular economy principles and fight climate change, and helped more than 20 startups.

Difficulties encountered

- Maintain a harmonious coordination of all components
- Measure the impact generated
- Efficiently communicate the added value to the general public
- Keep being attractive for youngsters and innovators
- Maintain financial solidity
- It is a practice that is mainly adapted to urban areas

Potential for learning or transfer

FFI already operates in three different continents: Europe (Italy), America (San Francisco and New York City) and Asia (Tokyo, Shanghai, and Singapore). However, the principle behind the practice still remains the same: combining “thinkers” and “doers”, youths and experienced leaders, for-profit and not for profit organisations to co-design and reshape a purpose-driven and regenerative ecosystem starting from the healing power of food. This structure has the mission of breaking the silos of food systems, using a systemic thinking and holistic approach to build a thriving society through food. Increasing awareness and empowering individuals to become conscious beings is the core of a systemic change, just as involving all stakeholders around the table, both within the agri-food sector (food production, transformation, distribution, storage, supply) and outside it (teachers, students, entrepreneurs, startuppers, philanthropists, community builders, researchers, diplomats, changemakers).

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Main institution
Future Food Institute
Emilia-Romagna, Italy (Italia)
Start Date
June 2014
End Date


Valeria Stacchini Please login to contact the author.