Seeding the Future

Food Systems Ideation Lab

Seeding The Future

Food Systems Ideation Lab

The Food & Nutrition Innovation Institute is the home for an array of activities that the Friedman School has built upon after prioritizing discovery and innovation in our School’s strategic plan. From gatherings of entrepreneurs and experts to career fairs and competitions; we’re building a truly unique group who can navigate the complexities of the food system and find new ways of working.

Seeding the Future

Seeding and accelerating innovative, multidisciplinary, and scalable approaches to create solutions that sustainably improve the food supply and reduce chronic hunger.

Started by Dr. Bernhard van Lengerich, Seeding the Future (STF) van Lengerich Foundation, is looking to feed “the next billion” by supporting robust and scalable solutions with the highest long-term impact.

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Program Overview

With climate change, inequities, and increasing population concerns becoming ever more omnipresence in the conversation around nutrition and food systems, there is an urgent need for impactful solutions. The Seeding the Future Foundation has generously provided funding for a second year of the Seeding the Future program at the Food & Nutrition Innovation Institute in order to continue working towards developing these immensely needed large-scale ideas and solutions.

The second year of this program will see the establishment of the Food Systems Ideation Lab within the Food & Nutrition Innovation Institute. The purpose of this Lab is to utilize human-centered design thinking with a nutrition-first approach, to leverage diverse skillsets for top of the funnel ideation that inspires venture creators to scale transformative changes within our food systems.

Are you a student, faculty, or organization interested in getting involved? Please contact Caroline Andrews.

Dr. Bernhard van Lengerich

Bernhard completed his Doctorate Degree (Dr.-Ing.) in Food/Biotechnology at the University of Berlin, Germany. His work experience includes Unilever Germany, RJR Nabisco, and Buehler AG in Switzerland. In 1994 Bernhard joined General Mills, Inc. in Minneapolis and was Chief Science Officer and Vice President for Technology Strategy. He led the development of key enabling technologies resulting in major product innovations. Bernhard authored/co-authored over 160 patents and patent applications, established a Game Changer program and created a novel ‘Cashless Venturing’ initiative, enabling faster and more disruptive innovations. Under the Obama Administration, he was an invited participant at the White House Office for Science and Technology Policy for discussions on global protein security. Bernhard retired in 2015 after more than 20 years with General Mills and serves now as a Board Member at several organizations in the US and Europe.

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Sezin Yigit

Jen Shafer

Matt Gregory

Daniel Kibet
Master of International Business

Cecilia Karoly-Lister
Master of Fine Arts

Aarti Singh
Aarti Singh
MS Agriculture, Food, and Environment

Sophia Day
Master of Fine Arts

Priyanshi Somani
MS Innovation Management MS Data Science

Rahul Ramesh
MS Urban & Environmental Planning

Oluwagbenga Sadik
MS Food and Nutrition Policy and Programs

Ideation and Innovation Student Leader

Application Description

About the Food and Nutrition Innovation Institute:

The Food and Nutrition Innovation Institute is hosted by the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. The mission of the Institute is to foster a robust, science-driven ecosystem of food, agricultural, and nutrition innovation and entrepreneurship for a healthier, equitable, and sustainable food system.


About the Food Systems Ideation Lab:

The Ideation Lab is funded by the Seeding the Future Foundation whose vision is “a global food system that always provides equitable access to safe, nutritious, affordable, appealing, and trusted food for everyone and improves the health of people and our planet by being sustainable, resilient, and regenerative”.  The Foundation was founded by Dr. Bernhard van Lengerich. After several decades with various food companies focusing on the intersection of science, technology, and innovation, Dr. van Lengerich now seeks to help feed the next one billion people by helping to support innovative solutions for a more equitable and sustainable food system.

This is the second year of the Seeding the Future program at the Innovation Institute and the first year of the Food Systems Ideation Lab. The aim of this Lab is to employ human-centered design thinking to develop ambitious, evidence-based ideas that can transform our food systems into channels that equitably deliver safe, nutritious food to all people while improving planetary health. This year students will identify emerging themes in academic research related to the future of nutrition and food systems. They will ideate and communicate far-reaching possibilities for how this technical information can be used by intrapreneurs, entrepreneurs, and venture creators to improve our food systems.


Scope of work:

Prior to the fall semester, graduate and professional degree-seeking students will be selected from across the twelve schools that comprise Tufts University. During the fall semester, selected students will receive human-centered design skills training from the lab’s Design Thinking Innovator in Residence. The team will then apply these design thinking skills when facilitating ideation sessions across Tufts campuses with students from all disciplines. The purpose of these meetings is to develop as many ideas and potential opportunities for how the academic research within these themes can be applied to innovative solutions across the food value supply chain. By the end of the fall semester, the team will identify a set of ideas generated from the ideation sessions to explore and refine further. Starting in the fall semester, student researchers will also have access to mentors and networking to provide insight throughout this process.

The spring term will build off of the research done in the fall. STF leaders will act as communicators, bridging the gap that often stands between evidence and industry. They will continue utilizing design thinking to identify the target consumer for these ideas, and develop a case for why the ideas should be tested and ultimately scaled. The outcome of the year’s work will be compiling the final reports in a virtual open-access research idea pitch book that will act as a jumping-off point for venture creators, intrapreneurs, and entrepreneurs to take on these ideas.

In addition to participating in the program’s components, student researchers will have the ability to shape the program for the coming years.


We are asking for a commitment of both semesters—a full academic year. To compensate for the time and work, participants will receive $22/hr.


Who we are looking for:

Are you insatiably curious? Want to work on a collaborative, interdisciplinary team? Have a fervent desire to make a difference? Do you love innovation?

We are looking for current Tufts graduate and professional degree-seeking students to take on the challenge of creating a better food system. This program will bring together keen minds from across programs to tackle various issues within the food and nutrition landscape. Though there is no set skillset necessary, students should bring a variety of interests and expertise – exposure to areas such as business, agriculture, nutrition, policy, design, or STEM may be most relevant.

Qualities that we are looking for:

  • Self-motivated – we’re talking that internal drive factor
  • Ability to dive into the details while also maintaining the big picture
  • Interest in making a positive impact, sustainably
  • Desire to learn about areas outside of current studies
  • Passion for food, agriculture, nutrition, or related topics
  • Collaborative
  • Willingness to fail
    • Because we’re aiming high and creating the next “big ideas”, not every idea is going to be a success.
  • Thrive in ambiguity
    • The program will provide students with the appropriate resources, but let them take the lead; though there will be set events and some structure, there is no syllabus like a traditional course. This encourages taking initiative to collaborate and develop ideas while also providing critical feedback to the implementation and development of the Seeding the Future program.

If this sounds like you, please apply by the August 3rd!

Please send a resume and statement of interest to Caroline Andrews.

2021-22 Cohort

Morgan Springer

Leah Beaulac
Leah K. Beaulac

Sally Williams
Sally E. Williams

Caroline Andrews

Aarti Singh
Aarti Singh


Feel free to contact us with any questions
Katie Stebbins
Katie Stebbins
Executive Director, Food and Nutrition Innovation Institute

Caroline Andrews
Program Director, Seeding the Future Ideation Lab

Interest Form

This is an initial interest form. A formal application will come later.