Collaboration and innovation to fix the food value chain: Qincho’s raison d’être

The problems with the dominant food system are well documented and of growing popularity, so I don’t feel the need to delve too much into them here. We know that we’ll be 9 billion by 2050, that to feed ourselves we’ll have to double food availability, and that we are doing this on ever thinner topsoils, under ever changing climate, and in ever uncertain economic conditions. We’re moving to cities, farmers are getting older, tastes are unseasonal. The global food equation has changed, and it’s time to adapt.

As a relentless optimist, I see this daunting challenge as a field of opportunities. Human ingenuity is immense, and given the right conditions minds will meet and progress will ensue. I don’t, however, underestimate the urgency of the matter. These are opportunities but they are onset by terrible challenges and unpardoning conditions. Changing climates and fragile food chains will affect the lives and livelihoods of many. In parallel, our perverse, obsessive, relationship with food and alienation from its production has resulted in health issues and an obesity epidemic. As an organisation for the future of food, our remit at Qincho is to foster solutions, using creativity and open mindedness to protect people and places.

Recent years have seen an incredible rise in interest around food, not only by millennials in western cities looking to Instagram their breakfast, but also by scientists, journalists, and activists finding in it solutions to the problems above. It shines light on the costs of the cost-driven, scaled, and automated approach to production and consumption that became dominant in the second half of the 20th century. Today, as we renew our interest in food, its origins and nutritional value, a new generation of innovation is needed. This mindset requires broken down chains and more nimble solutions. Innovators today are solving global problems at local scales, something the large agricultural interests cannot do so well. On top of this, they are building new solutions in a regulatory and financial landscape built around the previous generation of food innovators. The value of collaborative innovation has become very clear, as has the need to adapt the system in which they work. Building a supportive structure, where progress is incentivized and the planet and people protected, is the first step.

This is the basic premise pushing the Qincho project forward. The knowledge that solutions do exist but are locked out by disempowered innovators is our fuel. We see relentless innovators tinkering and solving, yet we see more still failing to scale their impact. With Qincho we want to bring these innovators together, break down silos and co-create solutions. We support them by convening the renascent industry. By translating new technologies, we bridge the gap with investors and policymakers, and give new solutions the chance to thrive. We take our conviction that creativity and collaboration will bring solutions to sustainable eating, and use it to empower solution-makers and progress to healthier, happier, and more prosperous societies.

The word Qincho comes for the Argentinian quincho, the roof under which a family meets for the weekly asado, a day dedicated to food, family, and conversation. This collaborative ethos is baked into Qincho, the centre for innovation and the future of food. For more sustainable meals to come, we are using this mentality to empower ideas to grow, technology to iterate, and entrepreneurs lead.