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Deans’ Food System Challenge Successfully Kicked-off!

by Amanda Phillips (JD ’15)

Last week a group of Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and Food Law Seminar students crossed the river to join over 200 students and guests at the Harvard Business School for the launch of the Deans’ Food System Challenge. The Challenge, sponsored by Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow and T.H. Chan School of Public Health Dean Julio Frenk is a year-long innovation competition where student teams develop venture proposals and are selected by a team of expert judges to be incubated at the Harvard i-Lab and receive financial prizes. Teams are challenged to develop innovative ideas to improve the health, social, and environmental outcomes of the food system.


The i-Lab is the only space at Harvard not operating under the banner of any particular school. Instead, it is a space devoted to cross-collaboration between schools and between disciplines. If I’ve learned anything from my study of the food system while a Clinic student, it is that effective solutions will require dynamic approaches and new ways of thinking, incorporating legal, entrepreneurial, educational, and public health approaches. In that regard, the i-Lab is the perfect host for such a challenge.

After a keynote speech by Ayr Muir, the founder of beloved Boston food start-up Clover Food Lab, attendees were let loose to mingle and make connections. We placed colored stickers on our nametags to signify whether we had an idea and sought collaborators, or the other way around. It initially felt a bit like a singles mixer, as people from different schools and backgrounds sought collaborators or pitched proposals. But after a few minutes the whole room was buzzing with people listening and sharing their ideas.


After the Launch, my walk back into Cambridge flew by as my classmate and I chatted rapidly about our ideas and the encouragement and inspiration we had just received. If this launch was meant to start a conversation, I think it was a huge success.


The views reflected in this blog are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation or Harvard Law School. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.

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