The Master Class The Future of Food lasted a month and was held in June; during the last week of the course the participants gathered in Tech Park Sofia, in Bulgaria’s capital. Within the programme twelve students from schools and universities from the towns of Velingrad, Blagoevgrad, Rousse, Shumen and Sofia met with experts, scientists and entrepreneurs who were to assist them in developing their innovative green ideas.
The four teams researched ways to make food production and packaging more sustainable, as well as to mitigate the problem of food waste. The finalist teams were:
Team SmartFood, with their idea for a biodegradable egg box made from dead seaweed from the coasts of the Black Sea;
Team Innovative, with their idea for biodegradable bags that preserve the quality of the goods they contain during transportation;
Team RED, with their idea for ice cream produced from pumpkin seeds and sunflower residue;
Team Tres Compadres, with their idea for an electrical household composter that transforms food waste into liquid fertilizer.
The lectures during the Master Class focused on business modelling, customer experience, finance, marketing, starting grants. Sessions on teamwork and presentation skills were also part of the training. The educational modules aimed to provide the participants with the knowledge and skills necessary for the further development of their ideas, creation of prototypes and starting their successful companies. In the process the young inventors were mentored by experienced entrepreneurs.
The teams that reached the final stage of the semester had the opportunity to participate in a discussion with WWF-Bulgaria’s CEO Vesselina Kavrakova and learn more about her personal path in nature conservation, as well as the activities of the organization in Bulgaria and globally. Kremena Georgieva from Kaufland Bulgaria introduced the young participants to her company’s climate strategy, as well as its projects for plastics reduction and the newly installed plastic bottle recycling stations.
"What is new and different this semester is that it is supported by WWF Global Food Practice. The work of our nature conservation organization in this direction focuses on sustainable food systems, food waste reduction and environment impact management for farming and fishing. The participants had the opportunity to meet our colleagues from WWF-USA, including Pete Pearson, Senior Director, Global Food Loss and Waste", said Victoria Tabakova, Youth Engagement Coordinator at WWF.
Among the panelists were also Angel Veza, Capital, Innovation And Engagement Senior Manager at ReFED, USA, as well as Samantha Kenny, Senior Program Officer, Global Food Loss and Waste, WWF USA. They discussed issues, their solutions and possible strategies concerning recycling, packaging and extending food expiration dates.
At the end of the semester the finalist participants had to present their ideas to an expert jury. The jury was responsible for picking the best business plan from the teams. After some serious consideration they chose Team SmartFood and their idea to make biodegradable egg boxes from dead seaweed from the coasts of the Black Sea. The team will receive 7 000 leva as funding for the initial tests of their business plan and the creation of a prototype. The Panda Labs crew will continue to support the teams and to look for opportunities for the development of their ideas after the end of the green entrepreneurship programme too.
WWF-Bulgaria’s Panda Labs Programme is looking for the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs willing to find sustainable solutions to real environmental challenges. Panda Labs is realized by WWF-Bulgaria with the kind support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, Kaufland Bulgaria and the State Department of USA.