Travel food, an Austin-based food technology company, is launching a new collaboration with colleges and universities to support students in food technology research. The initiative, JourneyLabs, aims to diversify people working in food technology and create more food and nutrition data.
Journey Foods was founded by Riana Lynn in 2018 with the aim of addressing inefficiencies in supply chain management to better feed the growing population. Lynn explains that data can help companies manage their supply chain, improve transparency of the food system, and improve accessibility to nutritious foods.
“We provide key actionable data that helps businesses improve their food science and supply chain opportunities, with a focus on data that supports nutrition, sustainability and cost goals,” said Lynn told Food Tank.
Lynn believes that university-led food and nutrition research can help take Journey Foods’ work even further. To support this research, Journey Foods announced the launch of JourneyLabs, a scholarship program that provides public grants to college-aged students at partner universities in North America and Hong Kong.
“Journey Foods has built very good relationships with universities over the years, whether with students interested in food science, data science or economics. Their work has really supported our growth and our research, ”Lynn told Food Tank.
The JourneyLabs initiative acts as an incubator where each participating company and school will have a unique agreement to develop special products and data. For this reason, Journey Foods selected schools with strong programs in data science as well as food and sustainability. “Our goal was to find the universities that we believe should really help shape the future of food,” Lynn told Food Tank.
She believes the collaboration can achieve two goals: It will create more food science, food technology, and nutrition data that universities can buy to support their own research. It will also support student researchers by providing them with data from Journey Foods. In the JourneyLabs program, some start-up companies and founders also have free access to Journey Foods data to support their own research and development in areas such as alternative proteins and manufacturing.
Lynn also hopes the initiative will help diversify actors working on solutions for food systems. JourneyLabs partners with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) including Howard University and Tuskegee University. Lynn aims to provide opportunities for students in historically underfunded HBCU to work directly with Journey Foods and help create a more efficient and sustainable global food system.
“What excites me the most is using funds to specifically pay HBCU students to participate in building a food future,” Lynn told Food Tank. She explains that Black, Indigenous and Colored (BIPOC) communities are under-represented in food technology companies and research environments. “We need to make sure we create safe and inclusive environments for black and brown talent to work on projects that shape the future of food,” she says.
“The students are really smart and creative,” Lynn told Food Tank. “With these students, we can accelerate our research, our impact and our knowledge that is more effective for the companies that pay for our services.”
Photo courtesy of Christina Wocintechchat, Unsplash