Partners News

What if insects were a solution for urban food self-sufficiency?

Eating insects is a supply solution that limits the use of resources and allows the implementation of a circular economy. It requires less space and less water in production. Moreover, it produces less harmful gases then meat and provides a high protein diet.

According to the UN, having protein-rich food will be necessary by 2050. Edible insects will play a crucial role for making cities self-sufficient in food production. In France, a 2017 study carried out by UTOPIES showed that on average, out of 100 urban areas studied, 98% of food is composed of "imported" agricultural products, while at the same time 97% of local agricultural products are "exported".

The consequences in terms of environmental impact are strong due to the intensity of road transport, which sometimes imports and exports the same food. In terms of social cohesion too, through the loss of connection between those who produce and those who consume on the same territory. Almost two thirds of the urban areas studied have sufficient "agricultural assets", to be theoretically more than 50% autonomous. However, not all urban areas have the same potential... Some must think about the development of new forms of urban or semi-urban agriculture and new local agricultural products.

Jakob LEWIN RUKOV, guest of the 12th World Forum, understood these issues only too well. Founder of BUGGING DENMARK, the Denmark's first farm of crickets and edible insects. He is working on an innovative solution to replace meat in urban food.

Located in the northwestern part of Copenhagen, it is currently the only urban farm of Denmark.


Insect based juice: the new invention to replace meat


With his farm, Jakob LEWIN RUKOV wants to integrate insects into the Danish food chain by presenting them as valuable food other than pests. The company therefore decided to improve the cricket image by inventing an insect-based juice drink!

The recipe is very simple, the mix of pressed apple juice, ginger and blanched fat crickets as a magical ingredient gives birth to a healthy juice, rich in protein and benefit while guaranteeing the preservation of flavors.

The company is based on a circular business model. Insect production in cities is easy and accessible to the consumer because insects require very little space (3 kg product/m2) and the city is full of hidden resources that can be used as food.

Autonomie alimentaire

The financial support from the Danish public authorities* highlights the innovative scope of this project and its utility for the public. This will inspire other initiatives around the world.

*Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark

Like Jakob LEWIN RUKOV, these speakers have made food autonomy of cities their priority and are transforming society at their level, in their own way. Discover their testimony in video

See the 15 minutes video of Jakob LEWIN RUKOV sharing his story

Stride.AI: The artificial intelligence that frees us from repetitive tasks

The American start-up, founded by Vijaykant Nadadur in 2014, wants to free banking and insurance employees from processes and redundant tasks so they can devote their intelligence to more rewarding activities.

"computers are good for doing what we find difficult, but are not very good at performing tasks that are easy for us."

What if artificial intelligence could free us? What if we could finally get rid of the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks so we could concentrate our energy on more interesting and fulfilling activities? Last month, we interviewed Michael Priddis, founder and CEO of Faethm, who helps companies and governments anticipate the elimination of jobs caused by the proliferation of artificial intelligence. He stated, among other things, that "computers are good for doing what we find difficult, but are not very good at performing tasks that are easy for us." It is probably on that concept that Vijaykant Nadadur founded his start-up, Stride.AI, in 2014. Stride.AI develops solutions for companies based on artificial intelligence. The goal: to automate the most time-consuming, complex, and laborious tasks, thus freeing employees up for more strategic work, where human intelligence is indispensable.

machine learning

Artificial intelligence to better understand human feelings

Stride.AI's main customers are banks and insurance companies. The solutions offered allow them to make sense of all the data that exists on their markets and customers: "Stride.AI's cognitive computing platform transforms unstructured data into easily understandable information", explains the start-up’s website. Its analysis allows the automation of processes related to compliance, risk, and operations. In addition, it allows for a better understanding of customers and their needs, thus informing strategic thinking in order to help develop new products and services.

Innovation is based on three major technological advances: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning (which refers to the machine's ability to learn from certain tasks and experiences), and Natural Language Processing (which allows the machine to understand the subtleties of human language). These technologies make detailed and precise data analysis possible: Stride.AI claims that it can produce not only text summaries of the data, but it can also analyze the feelings expressed in the summaries by relying on semantic similarities to better understand, not only what is being said, but if the tone is positive or negative. In summary, the start-up develops artificial intelligence that mimics human intelligence in the very subtle area of language understanding. It also automates complex tasks that rely on human abilities such as reasoning, experience, and logic.

Emotional intelligence is irreplaceable

It is not a question of replacing workers on tasks with high added value. Stride.AI's clients are banks who use their services to automate processes and better understand customer feedback on social networks. The start-up also works with insurance companies, allowing them to observe trends, identify new opportunities and issues, compare insurance policies, and identify potential problems. As a result, processes are mapped out, streamlined, and checked by artificial intelligence, and employees avoid redundant and boring tasks as much as possible. Stride.AI promises to save customers time, effort, and cost by reducing human labor where it can be replaced.

IA Emotionnel

The resulting work time can be devoted to more strategic activities, such as customer relations, the development of new products, or the expansion into new markets.

In summary, the fear of being replaced by machines even for intelligent tasks is absolutely legitimate. But this will not necessarily be synonymous with the outright elimination of the need for human intelligence, especially with respect to emotional intelligence and creativity. These, to date, remain irreplaceable.




Relive the intervention of Vijaykant Nadadur at the 11th World Forum for a Responsible Economy: "A robot is taking over my job, what will I do?"


Auara, the mineral water producer that wants to solve the water crisis

What if mineral water could help resolve the global water crisis? The idea seems counterintuitive: access to clean, healthy water has been officially recognized as a fundamental right by the United Nations since 2010, and should therefore be free. Nevertheless, this is indeed the approach chosen by the young Spanish company Auara, though not exactly in the way one might imagine. The actual concept involved is a simple one: Auara sells bottled mineral water, and 100% of its profits go towards financing access to water in both Cambodia and eight countries in Africa. In short, the consumption habits of developed countries serve as a tool used to help solve the water crisis in other parts of the world.


... access to clean drinking water potentially reducing disease levels by up to 80% ...


Nine socially impactful projects

The decision by Auara's founders – Antonio Espinosa, Luis de Saned and Pablo Urbano – to launch their social enterprise was based on a simple observation: according to WaterAid, more than 700 million people around the world do not have access to clean drinking water. Additionally, and according to Unicef, more than 1,000 children die each day from medical conditions linked to the consumption of unclean water. Hence the idea of "transforming an everyday activity such as the drinking of water into an extraordinary act", as the company states on its website. And hence, also, the decision to become a social enterprise in the sense provided by Muhammad Yunus (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, and the person responsible for first developing the concept of social business), namely, a business that has a social objective and does not pay dividends: all profits instead go towards financing new projects. Auara does not allocate its funds to NGOs. Instead, the company itself gets directly involved in projects led by partners on the ground who know the lay of the land and are able to ensure the schemes' longevity. Today, there are nine projects underway in Africa (in Morocco, Sierra Leone, Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Uganda, Malawi and Ethiopia) and Asia (Cambodia). Each consists of three main components: access to clean drinking water, sanitation and agriculture. In may cases, this involves restoring existing wells and constructing toilets in villages and schools located in remote areas. The intended impact is, of course, to provide improved sanitation, with access to clean drinking water potentially reducing disease levels by up to 80%. But there are also economic and social impacts too, primarily due to the increased school attendance rates that result from children being ill less often, and because most of the projects encourage greater economic independence for women. Between now and 2020, the company plans to invest 2.5 million euros in socially impactful projects and provide access to clean drinking water for 50,000 people.


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Recycled plastic and hashtags

Auara is also making a certain number of commitments at the other end of the chain, i.e. at the Spanish consumer end. Firstly, the company's bottles are made from 100% R-PET, a recycled plastic – targets for 2020: reuse the plastic from 90 million bottles and save 10 million liters of oil that would otherwise have been used to manufacture ordinary PET. Additionally, and in what is a still an all too rare little extra touch, the bottles are equipped with braille labels for the benefit of the blind and visually impaired. And finally, to encourage people to "drink better", the brand provides a scannable QR code on each label to enable consumers to find out exactly where their money goes and what it is used to finance. This is because, for an enterprise like Auara, consumer engagement is the key to success: the more bottles it sells, the more project financing it is able to provide. And it is for this reason, too, that the company has launched the hashtag #crisisdelagua (#watercrisis) on social networks and is encouraging internet users to post photos of glasses of dirty water as a way of symbolizing the situation of the 700 million people with no access to clean water and raising awareness about the problem. The campaign has received the support of a number of well-known Spanish celebrities, including Pedro Almodovar's favorite actress Rossy de Palma.

In Amharic, a language spoken in Ethiopia, Auara means sand storm. The revolution the Spanish company is proposing, however, is a soft one: use the tools of capitalism to reduce inequality with respect to access to water. As it states itself on its website, as a social enterprise, Auara combines the best aspects of businesses and the way they operate with the best aspects of socially oriented NGOs.”

Making drinking water safe through sunlight

The Swedish company Solvatten is marketing a solution for developing countries where access to drinking water and energy is unreliable.



WakaWaka, the lamp that shares the sun

Since 2012, a Dutch social enterprise has been manufacturing small LED lamps that also recharge mobile phones to bring energy to those who do not have it.

Families arrive with nothing, crammed into makeshift camps, surviving without running water and electricity: since the beginning of the war in Syria, it’s the daily life of thousands of people.


The Fairphone, a no-conflict smartphone without planned obsolescence

Since 2013, the Dutch company Fairphone have been selling “socially responsible” smartphones. An alternative to the other machines currently making up the bulk of the market that are impossible to repair and produced in opaque conditions.