London Food Lab could be a hub of innovation bringing food entrepreneurs together to build better businesses and learn from one another. This concept offers a solution to a double sided issue of creating a sustainable food system and supporting individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Presently, the government has provided funding and aid through grant and Bounce Back Loan schemes, but there remains a dearth of services for the thousands of businesses unable to apply due to time constraints or an inability to access them.
The London Food Lab is an incubator that is rooted in Localism, an ideology that many Britons would like to continue post-Covid-19. Now more than ever, as COVID-19 continues and Brexit begins, it is important to invest our time and energy into creating a more sustainable holistic foodcape for the UK. The London Food Lab is a for-purpose food business incubator, designed to help existing and inspiring food businesses thrive. Our aim is to equip people with the skills, tools, networks, and resources needed to become a thriving food enterprise in London and to collectively make London a more vibrant, diverse, and sustainable place to live and eat. We want to empower individuals with the capabilities they need to participate in a thriving local food system, giving them the tools and efficacy to become leaders in their communities, while providing better access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food.
At its centre, it is a 3 month program that covers ideation, market research, prototyping, scaling, building a team, food business literacy and gives access to mentors, guest speakers and a range of tools and resources. And also offers research, event, and consulting services. We believe this will foster innovation through the open exchange of ideas and will build resiliency into the post covid food system but creating a community web of support.
The social determinants of health highlight the disparity of access for many BAME communities from the top down – unequal resource distribution, diminished access to health services, nutritious food, and economic resources. The London Food Lab would be specifically dedicated to supporting people from disadvantaged communities in London, such as BAME and low income individuals.
The London Food Lab is modelled after the Detroit and Sydney Food Labs, both of which have helped hundreds of entrepreneurs create businesses that improve sustainable food systems and diets. The Detroit Food Lab has been pivotal in helping the city recover after the abrupt collapse of the automobile manufacturing industry in the 1970s and 1980s. The Sydney FoodLab is connected to Sydney University and they partner on research projects. Also connected to the Food Tafe, so businesses have access to commercial kitchens and cookery training. This joining of business and research has yielded a range of interdisciplinary benefits and will go on to pave the way for many future projects and collaborations.
Investing into business accelerator programs like this are likely to result in compounding benefits. Under this model, it would be possible to invest in the success of dozens of start-up businesses, for the same funding level as one. This exponential value generation makes limited budgets stretch further while providing benefits for a wider range of participants as well as the UK in general.