Google Food Lab Recap from 2024 in Chicago featured image

Google Food Lab Recap from 2024 in Chicago

A summary of the events at Google’s Food Lab summit, a powerful gathering of ideas and action within the food world

Twice a year Google hosts some of the most innovative minds from all touch points of food for a two day gathering at one of their campuses. The two day summit was held in Windy City Academy at Google Chicago - Fulton Market.

The goal of Google Food Labs is to create a space to share moonshot ideas that might form into working groups outside of the lab to stress test in the wild.

Who is invited to the Google Food Lab summits?

The community that is consistently invited to participate in Google Food Labs spans from industry leaders in agriculture, sustainability, alternative proteins, research and development, impactful restaurants, food service providers, social impact organizations in food, and more. Over the 5 years that I have participated in Google Food Labs, I’ve met the world’s most important organizations that are working on the impact of food habits and behavior in supply chains, climate change, and health.

Some highlights from this year’s attendees were:

  • Larger corporations who are leading sustainability and healthy initiatives, some unexpected and who were not as visible in years past. This shows the impact the summit is making on gathering leaders who are not always participants in leading change.

  • Communication groups that are advocating for more consumer awareness and policy change, especially regarding human health and climate change.

  • The full list of attendees can be found here.

Topics this year that were the focus:

The focus of this year was heavily influenced by:

  • Health, nutrition, food as medicine, nutritional density

  • Use of AI

  • Agricultural leadership

A powerful exercise - "Have, Need, Will"

One of my favorite exercises I have learned from the Google community is the “have, need, will” exercise that we conclude the two day series with. Participants are curated ahead of time to answer the key topics, impact reports, predictions, and updates with the most promising momentum. Others are encouraged to share their “I have, I need, I will” list to facilitate collaboration among attendees. My share this time around was:

  • I have a collection of food entrepreneurs committed to reducing packaging waste.

  • I want to leverage my influence in pragmatic ways to help them achieve real reductions in single-use packaging.

  • I will test any product that aims to solve for or reduce the need for single-use packaging and scale those with the most promise.

In sharing this with the group we get matched up with those who have what we need and vice versa. At Cohere, we have used this simple process of connection to facilitate change in our communities of food founders. The format of the Food Lab is one that can be used within an organization or across stakeholder groups aligned around a common goal.

The Google Chicago Office

For more information on how to facilitate change in your community...