You are what you eat. We’re at an interesting time in our awareness of what is in our food and the effects it can have on us. At times it may feel like what some people are doing in terms of data and food is a little extreme. However we are what we eat, and it does make sense that what goes in will affect our behaviour, mood and performance. In five to ten years time some things that seem extreme now will probably be seen as commonplace, logical and accepted behaviour. As humans we have a tendency to forget very quickly that we used to do things differently to how we do them now. Smoking and drinking during pregnancy is a good example of how data has informed and affected behaviour, reducing levels of consumption during pregnancy. There have also been a series of articles recently about how big data has helped athletes improve their performances at the Rio Olympics.
Within the food sector there have also been many exciting innovations and developments driven by data based insights. Irish company Nuritas aims to promote healthy living through scientifically proven ingredients. CEO and founder Nora Khaldi explains “the key to reducing and preventing disease begins and ends with food and the best way to uncover what was really in food was looking at the data within to see what food is fully capable of.”
Nuritas aims to discover ingredients from sustainable sources, including food side-streams currently not used to their full potential, to optimise global food resources. They are using artificial intelligence and DNA analysis to data-mine billions of molecules with the aim of providing access to health benefiting components within foods, called bioactive peptides. These peptides provide unique solutions for the maintenance of health and wellness. Benefits include: anti-inflammatory activity, antimicrobial activity, muscle recovery enhancement, skin anti-aging solutions, and potential management of blood sugar levels for type 2 diabetics.
We are also seeing a lot of growth in the area of biohacking where the aim is to look at what we put into our bodies and tweak this to achieve more optimal results. While some aspects are still contentious the increased ability to test our own blood sugar levels, heart beat rates, weight, and other key indicators do help to give us more awareness of our own key statistics. In Cork the food based startup accelerator IndieBio is helping to support the development of many interesting food related ideas. Many award winning companies have already emerged in the 16 months since it was started. Several of which have already been spun out into potentially multi million businesses. As Ron Shigeta, Chief Science Officer for IndieBio explains
“Biotechnology can have the ability to change the world and put us back on balance with the earth”.
In terms of talent watching for potential future innovations in food the annual end of programme IndieBio graduation showcases in both Cork and San Francisco have proved to be a great way to get an insight into innovations to look out for. There are other options for getting your food based idea started and Bord Bia have produced a guide of useful resources to help you develop food related business ideas. They also launched a new food accelerator called FoodWorks so watch this space for more innovative Irish food initiatives.
We’re looking forward to seeing what ideas and companies have come up with innovative data driven insights at the inaugural Irish DatSci awards on September 22nd. You can find out more about the event here and hopefully we will see you there as a nominee, supporter or advocate of one of the awards. Otherwise come along to support this showcase of great Irish data science talent and naturally for the fantastic networking opportunities as well. Either way the event will provide a great opportunity to showcase all the great data led initiatives taking place in Ireland. By getting as many key thought leaders and influencers into the same room also creates great potential going forward in terms of future collaborations and cross fertilisations that might take place. We look forward to seeing you there and sharing your ideas and insights.
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