• Visualization of Food Campus Berlin with Teltow Canal, Brain City Berlin

    Think Tank for the food of the future

Back in the day, Sarotti chocolate used to be produced in Berlin’s industrial Tempelhof-Ost region. In the coming years, the Food Campus Berlin is due to be built here on premises measuring 14,000 square metres. The Science Park will be focussing on nutrition and planetary health – including a living ecosystem that connects science and the economy – to devise holistic solutions for transforming the food system.

For now, the Food Campus Berlin only exists virtually: Through the Food Campus Digital platform, scientists can exchange ideas about the future of food with experts in the field of economics and other areas, discuss trends and evaluate and devise solutions for future food systems. The platform focusses on information sharing, knowledge transfer, further education and building skills and synergies. Events such as webinars, web talks and an online magazine co-curated by the community provide food for thought and promote the exchange of ideas.

The Food Campus Digital was launched in March 2023. Meanwhile, the community has over 5,000 followers. At the same time, it is also the heart of an interdisciplinary Information Hub for the future of food, which will soon have a physical home along the Teltow Canal in Tempelhof-Schöneberg known as the Food Campus Berlin on premises measuring around 14,000 square metres. “We are currently planning to start building in spring 2024,” says Jörg Reuter, Managing Director of Artprojekt Nature & Nutrition GmbH and Head of Food Campus Berlin, who devised the project for property developer Artprojekt. The Objective of the Food Campus team: To create a Science Park in the industrial Tempelhof-Ost region in which new concepts regarding the nature of food production can be devised. To encourage an ecosystem of start-ups, businesses and science that drive the transformation of food systems locally and digitally.

“We are driven by the fact that the ecological limits of our planet have been transcended. The food industry is part of the problem but it can also be part of the solution,” explains Reuter on the basic principle of his Food Campus vision. “Food is having a negative impact on planetary limits at the moment. As a result, our global food system is responsible for 30 percent of greenhouse gases and 70 percent of biodiversity loss. We therefore need to transform the food and agricultural industry. In future, we will have to supply a greater number of people with healthy and sustainable food under increasingly difficult climatic conditions – by 2050 the global population will increase by two billion.”

In order to accelerate the necessary transformation of the food and agricultural industry, the Food Campus is designed to be holistic. “By holistic, we mean a vertical approach in which the entire supply chain from farm to table is incorporated as much as possible,” continues Reuter. “In terms of a horizontal approach, holistic means that it is not just about one right solution but finding multiple solutions. Everyone should have the space to thrive off one another at the Food Campus Berlin.” 

In Food Campus Berlin, Art Projekt will provide premises spanning 40,000 square metres of floor space for start-ups, established businesses, researchers, food-oriented institutions and service providers plus other pioneers in the planetary health sector to work, research and produce. For this, a sustainable complex will be built on the Teilestraße in Tempelhof, right next to the Teltow Canal based on drawings by the architectural company Tchoban Voss. It will include 15,000 square metres allocated to partially transparent production as well as plenty of office space for businesses, institutes and services providers in the food and planetary health sector. 8,000 square metres will be assigned to laboratories, R&D departments and test kitchens. 2,000 square metres is earmarked for events, showrooms and gastronomic services.

However, the focus of the Food Campus Berlin is more on research and development rather than production, emphasises Jörg Reuter. “A key aspect of the Food Campus will also include the ‘Smart Protein Hub’ maker space. There we will create a unique European co-using infrastructure for food tech start-ups.” University partnerships are also being planned. Initial partnerships with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences (HTW have already been set in motion.

It is no coincidence that Artprojekt selected the Brain City Berlin as the physical location for the Food Campus Berlin. Jörg Reuter: “Berlin is one of the leading cities for food start-ups in Europe. What’s more, Berlin is also one of Europe’s central ‘metropolises’ from a meta perspective. Close political relationships are extremely useful and effective when it comes to the big picture of agricultural and food transformation.” The eleven Berlin locations of future innovation (‘Zukunftsorte’) in the city will support the Food Campus Berlin with its food-related work. “We are the first technology park to cover the topic of food in Berlin. Partnerships are always welcome. Fields such as biotechnology and AI are also useful to this collaboration.”

However, the Food Campus Berlin must first be built. This should take approximately two years from the start of building. Based on current plans, it should be finished in 2026. Several companies have already secured space on the campus. But how is the selection made? “In principle, tenants should be involved in the food industry,” says Jörg Reuter. “Applicants are preferred who are actively developing solutions relating to food innovations and searching for solutions to planetary health and sustainability.” This is key as it supports the vision of the Food Campus to tackle the future of food together. Cross-platform and interdisciplinary – as a Berlin expert community that is developing new solutions for the future of food. (vdo)

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