Reps from 6 countries say ‘yes’ to MSU initiative addressing global food challenges

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Representatives from six countries met this week and agreed to launch The Global Innoversity, a Michigan State University-led initiative to develop innovative ways to address the challenges and opportunities of sustainably feeding the populations of large metropolitan regions around the world.

Participants from Detroit, Hyderabad, Nairobi, Johannesburg, the Netherlands and Singapore convened in Detroit Feb. 25-28. They exchanged ideas, identified priorities and discussed funding options for the initiative. They also observed programs in food, agriculture and related resources already under way in Detroit.

“We are inspired and enthused by the conversations we had this week between our founding partners,” said H. Christopher Peterson, holder of the Homer Nowlin Chair of Consumer-responsive Agriculture and professor of agricultural, food and resource economics at MSU. “Global Innoversity will be a strong network of international partners who can draw on one another’s expertise as they implement changes in their local food, agriculture and resource systems.”

Developing a broad program of food system innovation to promote local economic development, land recovery and food security will be priorities for the partners. Helping to ensure that local metropolitan regions are able to meet the food demands of populations projected in 2050 is also a goal.

Through Global Innoversity, each metropolitan region will implement its own program. An educational institute in each region will convene a local steering committee to create a similar set of programs under the banner of an innovation coalition. The coalition will execute projects consistent with the Global Innoversity operating principles. These projects will become the source of local innovation and feed into the global network to spur further innovation.

Each coalition will have its own branding and identity and will develop a portfolio of action projects that result in implemented innovations, including commercialization as businesses. A multistakeholder group of business, government, societal/community organizations and knowledge institutions will lead each innovation coalition, and a similar group will lead each project the coalition sponsors.
FoodPlus Detroit, the local innovation coalition, was created in June 2012. Its purpose is to improve local residents’ access to nutritious food and economic opportunities, and to position Detroit as a world research center for metropolitan food system innovation. 

“The opportunity ahead is to address our current critical development needs through expanding the urban food agenda in Detroit, connecting our work to that of other major cities around the world and positioning the city to be a leader in new food growing technologies for the future,” said Rick Foster, MSU FoodPlus Program co-director.

Visit www.msumetrofood.com for more information.

The university is seeding the program with an initial three-year commitment, mainly through faculty effort representing colleges including Agriculture and Natural Resources, plus MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension.

MSU AgBioResearch engages in innovative, leading-edge research that combines scientific expertise with practical experience to generate economic prosperity, sustain natural resources, and enhance the quality of life in Michigan, the nation and the world. It encompasses the work of more than 300 scientists in six MSU colleges – Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Natural Science, Social Science and Veterinary Medicine – and has a network of 13 research centers across the state.

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