New Initiative Aims to Improve Transparency and Inclusivity in the Food System

Journey Foods, an Austin-based food technology company, is launching a new collaboration with colleges and universities to support students in food technology research. The initiative, JourneyLabs, aims to diversify people working in food technology and create more data around food and nutrition.

Journey Foods was founded by Riana Lynn in 2018 with the goal of addressing inefficiencies in supply chain management to better feed the growing population. Lynn explains that data can help companies manage their supply chain, improve transparency in the food system, and improve accessibility to nutritious foods.

“We provide key actionable data that helps companies improve on their food science and supply chain opportunities, with a focus on data that supports nutrition, sustainability, and cost goals,” Lynn tells Food Tank.

Lynn believes that the research around food and nutrition conducted by universities can help advance the work of Journey Foods even further. To support this research, Journey Foods announced that they are launching JourneyLabs, a fellowship program that provides publicly funded grants to college-aged students at partnering universities across North America and Hong Kong.

“Journey Foods has built really great relationships with universities over the years, whether that is with students interested in food science, data science or economics. Their work has really supported our growth and our research,” Lynn tells Food Tank.

The JourneyLabs initiative acts as an incubator where each participating company and school will have a unique agreement to develop special products and data. For this reason, Journey Foods selected schools with strong programs in data science as well as food and sustainability. “Our goal was to find the universities that we believe should really be a part of shaping the future of food,” Lynn tells Food Tank.

She believes the collaboration can achieve two goals: it will create more data around food science, food technology, and nutrition that universities can purchase to support their own research. It will also support student researchers by providing them with Journey Foods’ data. In the JourneyLabs program, select early-stage companies and founders are also given free access to Journey Foods’ data to support their own research and development in areas including alternative protein and manufacturing.

Lynn also hopes that the initiative will help diversify the actors working on food systems solutions. JourneyLabs is partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) including Howard University and Tuskegee University. Lynn aims to provide opportunities for students in historically underfunded HBCUs to work directly with Journey Foods and help create a more efficient and sustainable global food system.

“What I am most excited about is using funds to specifically pay students from HBCUs to be a part of building a future of food,” Lynn tells Food Tank. She explains that Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities are underrepresented in food technology companies and in research environments. “We need to make sure we are creating safe and inclusive environments for Black and Brown talent to work on projects that are solving the future of food,” she says.

“College students are really smart, and creative,” Lynn tells Food Tank. “With these students we can accelerate our research, our impact, and our insights that are more efficacious for the companies that pay for our services.”

Photo courtesy of Christina Wocintechchat, Unsplash

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