News: Exploring Innovation in Food Tech


Exploring Innovation in Food Tech

On Thursday, March 28, the Chicago Connectory hosted Sente Foundry’s ‘Innovation in Food Tech Meetup’. This event focused on how innovation and data is key to success in the food tech space.

The event began with a presentation by U.S. Director and Designer at CLEVER°FRANKE, Bob Corporaal. Their company works on improving client efficiency with data-driven tools and experiences. They bring data to farming with their mobile and desktop platform, Aker. The Aker process involves drones being flown over a client’s fields and turning the data collected into an easy-to-use map. This map then shows users where crops are less healthy and what they can do in order to get the most out of their land.


Next, Willemijn Schneyder discussed how he created SwipeGuide to improve traditional paper instruction manuals. Ease-of-use and understandability of paper instructions were problems when it came to Heineken’s changeover times. Changeover is the process of converting a factory line machine from producing one product to producing another. For Heineken, this process took about 5 hours.

SwipeGuide’s application allows line factory workers to upload photos with short instructions about the job and activities they do in a certain process. Other employees can then view these instructions by swiping right and following step-by-step. Heineken employees praised the user-friendliness saying “if you can Facebook, you can SwipeGuide”. By implementing SwipeGuide from a bottom-up approach, Heineken reduced their changeover times by 30-50% and got their factory workers excited about their work.

Senior Strategist of Insights & Innovation Direction at VanBerlo, Nadine von Seelen, then presented on how they’re finding the sweet spot between package-free and minimal packaging. More than ever, consumers are aware of the waste they produce and how it affects the environment. This has presented a problem for companies – maximizing product with minimalist packaging. VanBerlo understands that there are levels to sustainability and that large companies aren’t able to go waste and plastic free immediately. Therefore, they create solutions that work for both their clients and their consumers. The event finished with a panel moderated by Steve Dolinsky, food report at ABC7 and author of “Pizza City USA.”

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