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Hybrid business models

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Image of an indoor vertical farm with plants growing under special lighting

There is a lack of coordination within the food system from food production through to consumption; encompassing the people, activities and outcomes involved in processing, procuring, manufacturing, catering, retail and consumption of our food. There is a need to develop new approaches and business models focused on environmental sustainability, equality and healthy nutrition. These new models are great examples of hybrid initiatives (business models, alliances, networks) that challenge the traditional business structures in place that currently focus primarily on the pursuit of financial gain. There is limited research to identify how these hybrid models work and how they can be scaled up and promoted in the food system.

FixOurFood aims to explore where and what are effective examples of hybrid approaches that coordinate food production to consumption in an economical and  regenerative way. The team is examining what the critical success factors are in setting up, governing, scaling up and managing these models. In addition, they are looking at how these innovations can be enhanced to create new approaches in finance and investment, to create the transformation needed to make hybrid food economies the norm.

Working with the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, entrepreneurs, Grow Yorkshire, and our key stakeholders, we are planning to scale up a range of new hybrid models including: Yorkshire ‘Food Hubs’; a new indoor community urban vertical farm; building the first entrepreneurial ecosystem (a network of food enterprises) to create a vibrant, diversified food economy; designing new public procurement supply chains to schools and holiday clubs and co-designing new business policy and financial tools to promote sharing risks and investment towards a regenerative food system.

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There are calls to develop new approaches and business models focused on environmental sustainability, equality and healthy nutrition

source: Doherty et al (2014)
Important outcomes will include a range of new hybrid models. These will include shifts in practice to demonstrate different ways of re-organising towards a regional food infrastructure; enabling regenerative farmers to find markets by aggregating supply and helping consumers and schools to source locally produced healthy foods.

Key people: Prof Bob Doherty, Prof Katherine Denby, Dr Alana Kluczkovski, Dr Ulrike Ehgartner