Caleb Harper MA '14 Image: Kent Larson
Caleb Harper MA ’14 is the principal investigator and director of the Open Agriculture (OpenAG) Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. Image: Kent Larson

A new collaboration is bringing together industry experts and MIT researchers to explore the future of food. Earlier this month, retailer Target announced a multiyear partnership with MIT and human-centered design firm IDEO that will explore challenges faced by modern agriculture and the world’s current food systems.

The partnership will study a range of issues, including urban farming, supply chains, food transparency, and health. “We know more about what’s in our smartphones than we do in the last meal we ate. And that’s something we want to change,” Greg Shewmaker, Target’s entrepreneur-in-residence, said in a press release.

Later this month, Target and MIT’s Laboratory for Social Machines will begin collecting and analyzing public data to identify trends and map global conversations about food. MIT’s newly launched Open Agriculture (OpenAg) Initiative will also participate, investigating new ways to grow food in urban environments. As its name suggests, the OpenAg group is committed to sharing its work through an open, online platform. The OpenAg Initiative is led by Caleb Harper MA ’14, whose research focuses on the areas of control environment design, actuated sensing, control automation, and data-driven resource, energy, and biologic optimization.

A third initiative is slated to kick off in 2016, with the launch of the Food + Future coLAB. At the coLAB, multidisciplinary teams will develop new technologies and identify new markets in the food and agriculture industries, using research from the MIT Media Lab. The initiative is currently seeking student researchers.

Read more about how MIT, Target, and IDEO plan to revolutionize the future of food at Beta Boston.

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One comment

  1. CH Lim

    Dear Sir,
    I read with interest your studies on The Future of Food. I am aware that in China a strain of bacteria has been developed to “fix” atmospheric nitrogen. This increased crops’ yields by 30% to 50%. An improved formulation 6 months ago increased the yield of rice by more than 100%. 
    Let me know if you are keen.

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