Background - 19.04.2023 - 14:12 

DEMO DAY of the lab of tomorrow 14: a true co-creation and cross-sector collaboration

After the Innovation Sprint last June and a total of 10 months of incubation, the three remaining venture teams of lab of tomorrow (lot) 14 shared their lot journey and showcased how they contribute to a circular food system in Rwanda at the DEMO DAY in March 2022. The great progress achieved by Agricultural Gurus, FoodlinX and Future Farm illustrates the potential of the lot format for transformation through co-creation and collaboration across sectors.

The DEMO DAY end of March 2022 marked the final event of the lab of the tomorrow 14 process and took place in Kigali, Rwanda (if you missed it, you can watch the stream here). The Competence Center for Social Innovation (CSI-HSG) and our co-initiator the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) opened the event and stressed the relevance of cross-sector collaboration to address the grand challenges of our time. Our local partner Impact Hub Kigali pointed out the great untapped potential for advancing solutions and businesses for circular food systems in Rwanda and how the lot has helped raising awareness of circularity in food systems.

"After 2 years of remote collaboration due to Covid-19, I was able to visit the teams in Rwanda and was very impressed to experience in person what the teams have achieved in such a short amount of time. It validates our convictions about the lot as a catalyst for collaboration, social innovation and positive change."

Rahel Meyer, Co-Lead Innovation at CSI-HSG


The main topic of the DEMO DAY were the three venture teams and their progress achieved through the lot journey. Agricultural Gurus, FoodlinX and Future Farm showcased how they contribute to a circular food system in Rwanda. They do so with a locally produced high quality animal feed mix from waste, a food store providing fresh and organic fruits and vegetables directly sourced from smallholder farmers as well as with a composting system transforming waste into quality organic fertilizer. The teams shared how they all met for the very first time during the 5-day Innovation Sprint in June 2021 and, with the help of a Design Thinking coach, co-created a solution for a critical challenge related to the food system in Rwanda. They explained how they iterated the initial solutions over the last 10 months and showed what progress they have been able to achieve thanks to the coaching, expert inputs, and financial support they received during the Incubation Phase of the lot.

"Having participated in the Innovation Sprint in June 2021, I’ve been particularly impressed by the engagement of the 3 teams. They have developed what were very sketchy concepts back in June into operational activities representing first groundings of promising business activities contributing to a more circular food system in Rwanda. SDC appreciated to be part in testing the cocreation process of the lot as a new way to generate collaborations with the private sector. We have learned a lot from this first experience and are excited to realize a second round, taking stock of the successes and limitations of the first pilot."
Bernard Zaugg, Policy Advisor, Expert Team Inclusive Economic Development at Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

The three venture teams of lot 14

Agricultural Gurus: Many small livestock farmers in Rwanda cannot afford balanced feed mix for their pigs and chickens resulting in low productivity and income. To solve this problem, Agricultural Gurus produces high-quality feed mix for pigs and chicken by using agricultural residues (wastes) and industrial food waste. Compared to conventional animal feed, their mix is more nutritious and less expensive. In 2022, the venture began operating in Rulindo district in the northern province. 5 jobs have been created and around 3 tons of feed mix are currently produced per day. Agricultural Gurus aims to scale up the production with additional machines to 40 tones per day and expand the market to the entire northern province by 2023.

Future Farm: In Rwanda, there is currently no sustainable way of converting organic waste into something of value for smallholder farmers. Most waste goes to landfill which creates pressure on land usage and the environment through greenhouse gas emissions. Future Farm is developing a locally manufactured composting system to transform the municipal organic waste into quality organic fertilizer for smallholder farmers. To source waste, a Memorandum of Understanding has been singed with a waste management company in Kigali. In the coming years, Future Farm plans to sell and lease a re-adjusted composting system to hotels, food markets, schools and villages.

FoodlinX: Market accessibility remains a significant challenge for smallholder farmers in Rwanda largely due to limited market access and pricing information. Furthermore, high-quality and organic fruits and vegetables are scarce and expensive for urban consumers. FoodlinX establishes outlets in Kigali offering high-quality, fresh and organic fruits and vegetables at an affordable price directly sourced from smallholder farmers under fair trade terms. 2 jobs have been created so far and the first store opened on the day of the lot DEMO DAY. By 2023, FoodlinX plans to open three more stores in Kigali as well as a central food warehouse for logistics.

Achievements and potential of the lab of tomorrow

By engaging various local stakeholders such as the City of Kigali, students and entrepreneurs, the lot has raised awareness about circular food systems in Rwanda. Although, there are some attempts and initiatives to address circular economy in Rwanda, the issue has not yet gained traction and there is untapped potential for advancing circular food systems solutions and businesses. Following the lot and other ongoing initiatives, the Impact Hub Kigali is building a community around circularity and food systems in Kigali with the aim to conduct a series of events and programs on the topic. Moreover, the lot has strengthened the social entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kigali by providing space for co-creation and knowledge exchange, as well as access to financial resources, coaching and a pool of experts. At the same time there has been important capacity building and knowledge transfer between the key stakeholders involved, including CSI-HSG, SDC, Nestlé, Impact Hub Kigali, and reverse.

"Lab of tomorrow 14 was an exciting cross-sector collaboration that helped us build new relationships and let new local initiatives emerge to foster a regenerative food system. We are convinced that partnering with others in this set up helps delivering a bigger impact to advance our Creating Shared Value strategy and to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals."
Franck Saint-Martin, Global Public Affairs & ESG Engagement Manager at Nestlé

The lab of tomorrow format has an enormous, proven potential for change by bringing together people with diverse backgrounds and expertise to collaboratively create new and innovative solutions to the grand challenges of our time. We will hopefully be able to report some exciting updates on new projects soon.