IFAMA 2016: CONFERENCE RECAP
Last month IFAMA held their 26th annual world conference in Aarhus, Denmark. The Chair for Technology and Innovation Management at UniBonn took part in the event and was represented by Prof. Dr. Stefanie Bröring (head of the chair group), Dr. Laura Carraresi, Silvan Berg (research assistant), Sukhada Khedkar (research assistant) and three AFECO students - Adetoun Oyebade, Camilo Gutierrez and Lora Tsvetanova.
IFAMA (the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association) is an international management organization that brings together current and future business, academic, and government leaders. After last year’s initiative in St. Paul, 2016 marked the second of three annual meetings which focus on the theme Become the Solution: Food Security 2050. Particular attention was payed to three major issues: the flow of talent in the Food and Agribusiness sector (People), Climate-smart systems (Climate) and Better analytics and deeper insight management (Big data). The program included twelve symposium sessions, daily roundtable discussions, a workshop on teaching case methods and an opportunity to take part in tours and site visits. Key stakeholders, industry and academia representatives took part in the ongoing conversations about the challenges that the Agrifood sector is facing, sharing perspectives and opinions about topics such as Food security and sustainability; Innovation in developing economies; Governance and contract issues. The whole event was dominated by an atmosphere of networking and knowledge-sharing, of a common sense of responsibility towards the food and agriculture of tomorrow. It won’t be an exaggeration if we say that the most special value of IFAMA is the opportunity to engage across sectors and cultures, to seek new ways for collaboration.
A core element of the Chair`s participation this year was the AFECO team that took part in the International Student Case Competition - a capstone event for IFAMA that offered students a rare venue to demonstrate analytical and problem-solving skills. Our team consisted of three international master students - Adetoun Oyebade (Nigeria), Camilo Gutierrez (Colombia) and Lora Tsvetanova (Bulgaria) and competed against the Doha University for Graduate Students, University of Buenos Aires, University of Macerata, the South African Team and the World Team in the category Graduate Intermediate Students. The challenge began with a preliminary round on Sunday, 19th June. All teams were given a task in the form of a case study. We had four hours to analyse the problem, formulate a solution and develop a presentation. Each team then delivered their presentations to a panel of three judges. The case itself focussed on agribusiness sustainability and measuring tools such as life cycle analysis, on the problems and issues between proprietary and publicly funded research, on the role of public-private partnerships in promoting innovation. The real challenge however was to come together as a team, to be selective, brief and efficient in our communication strategy and to convince the judges with well-selected, logical arguments. In retrospect, the International Student Case Competition provided us with invaluable learning experience and an opportunity to test ourselves in a dynamic “real world” situation.
The 2016 IFAMA World Conference was not just talks and workshops, and no recap of the event will be complete without mentioning the marvelous social events that were organized for us – dinner with Danes (initiative that allowed us to experience the local culture by meeting actual Danish families for dinner), reception at Tivoli Friheden (a whole amusement park just for us, where we were greeted by Kristian Jensen, the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs) and the traditional Danish bonfire on St. John’s Eve. Here is the place to mention that the conference was produced in partnership with the Danish Food Cluster and the Wageningen International conference on Chain and Network management and took place in Aarhus - one of Denmark’s food innovation hubs.