Food, the City, and Innovation

Roundtable conference about the global food system. February 1 & 2, 2013

The Food Lab at the University of Texas at Austin presents “Food, the City, and innovation,” a two-day roundtable conference at the E.A. Smith building – just west of the Blanton Museum in Austin, Texas. The Food Lab at UT and our co-host Boston University believe that the climate for innovation in the food industry could not be better.


New food startups led by engineers, artists, scientists, and architects are responding to the challenge to re-invent our global food system. This conference will explore the opportunities for innovation and seek those that will benefit from the collaboration between universities and our cities.


The purpose of this conference is to explore questions about our food system that require experimentation, nontraditional approaches, and multidisciplinary ways of thinking. We will explore how the humanities can inform entrepreneurship. Throughout these two days we will identify key opportunities for innovation within the global food system and create a roadmap for new food entrepreneurs.

The conference will broaden our understanding of the food system while seeking new ideas and models for delivering food to our growing cities. The roundtable participants will offer insights and experiences from three perspectives: as scholars, presenting examples of how innovation occurred in the past to create urban provisioning systems; as members of the global food community, sharing their experiences and ideas about the opportunities for innovation with our current food system; and as entrepreneurs who are leading innovation in the food space.

The Food Lab at UT explores innovative approaches to improving our global food system. It promotes creativity and entrepreneurship by integrating science, technology and the study of the humanities (art, history, literature, music, philosophy).

Program at a Glance

Keynote Speaker 

9:15 – 9:45 am

Dr. David Edwards, is a writer and educator, teaches at Harvard University and is founder and director of Le Laboratoire in Paris, France.

His work, which spans the arts and sciences, has been featured prominently in the international media, and is at the core of a network of art and science labs in Europe, USA and Africa (ArtScience Labs.) He is interested in creating new ways of eating, such as Le Whif, and Le Whaf, as commercially developed through the FoodLab of Le Laboratoire. David Edwards’ work also includes new approaches to experimental learning through art and science creation including the ArtScience Prize, and the Idea Translation Lab.

Session and Roundtable Info

Day one and two

Each session will include two round table discussions composed of speakers from academia and the business community, including food entrepreneurs.

Session I: Food

The two roundtables in this session will challenge how we think about and produce food. Participants will explore our understanding of food and the current disruption of our traditional food industry.

(10:00 am – 12:00 pm)  Roundtable 1

Roundtable 2 (1:00 – 3:00 pm)

Session II: The City

These roundtables will explore how cities will feed their diverse, demanding, and increasing populations. Will cities need to rethink their provisioning systems? What will be the new requirements for a robust, adaptive and resilient urban food system?

(3:15 – 5:15 pm) Roundtable 3

Roundtable 4 (9:10 – 11:00 am)

Session III: Innovation

This session will inquire about the opportunities for innovation within the food system. Entrepreneurs, funders, and food startups will share their experiences.

(111:15 – 1:15 PM) Roundtable 5

Roundtable 6 (2:30 – 4:30 pm)

GREEN food, the city, and innovation

Download Complete Program (PDF)


$75 per person, two-days, including lunch on both days.

Dinner on Friday night: The Food Lab Presents: The Longhouse Food Salon, Pop-Up dining experience that brings the Longhouse Food Writers Revival to Austin, a project of New York Time Food Writer, Molly O’Neill. O’Neill is the author of three cookbooks, including the best-selling New York Cookbook, A Well-Seasoned Appetite, and The Pleasure of Your Company. We have a limited number of seats at a special rate so be sure to reserve your place at the dinner as soon as possible.


Hotel Reservations

We have reserved a block of rooms with AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center at a special group rate for conference attendees. Please RESERVE YOUR ROOM for the conference. It is just a three minute walk to the E. A. Smith building, where the conference will be held.

Special Rate: $174/night *Taxes not included.

Available Dates: January 31, 2013 – February 3, 2013


Official Sponsors and Partners

Check out the complete list of sponsors and community partners for the conference HERE.


Conference Chair: Dr. Robyn Metcalfe, University of Texas at Austin,

Fundraising Chair: Chelsea McCullough,

Tech Support: Daniel Heron,


41 thoughts on “Food, the City, and Innovation

  1. This type of conference will be gaint step for healthy food.I want to be participate in this conference

  2. This kind of programme is the need of the hour and it should be encourage all over the world. I want to attend the programme since I work in this field, is there any sponsorship for theprogramme ?

  3. Sounds interesting I would like to participate.i run a meat processing factory and a farm in Ghana

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  7. It is very important and useful program. It helps to strengthen the system for food management and public health system.

    I will be eager to participate in the program.

    Shankar Raj Kandel

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  31. Sorry I missed this gathering, but will be looking forward to a 2014 conference. Also, happy to learn more about Long House Food Writers and Cook ‘n Scribble opportunities.

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