© 2019 by Fran Huerta.

Barcelona Crowdfooding

Strategy & Design Thinking

Barcelona Crowdfooding aims to engage, involve, and connect the government, the research centers, the private sector and the citizens to generate positive impact in the food sector in Barcelona.

In a collaboration with PEMB, a private non-profit organization promoted by Barcelona’s City Council, we were asked to envision the strategy for a Food Innovation Hub in Barcelona in order to engage the main stakeholders of the food system working to improve it.

Well-being is no longer a state of being but a way of living.

The opportunity area

How might we help PEMB to create a strategy that engages, involves, and connects the key stakeholders?

PEMB is formed by the main economic and social agents of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. Its main goal is to identify the needs of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona in the medium term, foresee tendencies and forthcoming treats, and propose solutions to tackle the future in the best conditions. It expects to boost economic and social development by promoting participation, enabling consensus, prioritizing decisions and sharing leadership between Barcelona’s public and private sectors. 

One of the focus areas of their vision Plan for 2030 is the agroalimentary sector. They detected that this sector is lacking of common policies to support the control and develop of more sustainable practices alongside the whole system.

In order to promote the development of policies that could satisfy everyone’s needs, they started to negotiate with Barcelona's City Council the idea of creating a Food Innovation Hub, so that the stakeholder’s could have a space to collaborate and a platform to generate discussions and gather data about what the policies should be about.

The Design Process

Understanding the citizens needs and their food awareness

To begging the research and discovery fase, we started doing some guerrilla interviews, trying to gain understanding about the citizens' perspective and to uncover the first insights in a fast and low-cost way. We decided to do it in different neighborhoods of the city, in a attempt to get a more holistic picture. 

Food waste, food quality, local markets and products, as well as information and transparency about what we are eating were the most common topics that came up during those interviews. Those topics uncover a reality, and it is that general citizens understand the topic of food in a daily basis, as eating is a primary necessity. 

This uncovered one of the first insights for the project: citizens feel they are lacking awareness and information about food; they need experience and access to knowledge, either to understand, to manage, to create or to change habits in their daily context to guarantee their well-being.

There are multiple factors of the context and the culture of a city that might dictate the output of the project. Culture is broadly recognized as a key element in strategies.

After our analysis, we understood that there were opportunities for a project about food innovation in Barcelona city. The highly diversified economic structure of the city is focused on creating a dynamic and innovative city economy. On the other hand, there is great public and private cooperation, and the success of this collaboration has been key to Barcelona’s transformation. From the food industry perspective, it is one of the key sectors for Barcelona and Catalonia and represents more than 20% of total net sales and operation incomes of Spain, leading the country’s market.

But the key indicator that there was opportunity for a strategy to enhance collaboration in Barcelona came from the cultural perspective. We found multiple signals that indicated that Barcelona is characterized by a highly participatory citizenship. Initiatives as decidim.barcelona or ____________ are great examples of the collaborative personality of the citizens. Those platforms promote a more open, transparent and collaborative city through the empowerment of its population.

Exploring the topic through the lenses of the cultural context of Barcelona city

Analyzing the stakeholders map, the value exchange between them and the gaps in their journey

From the initial conversation with the client, we understood that their activity was focused in what is called "quadruple helix", a model that focuses on the actors from academia, government, industry and civil society. We needed to understand the main drivers and needs of those players in order to engage them into this initiative.

We conducted a series of interviews with different people that represented the voice of those players. The interview was divided into six main categories: a small presentation about themselves and their work, their own understanding of Barcelona, their perception of the business they are working on and how it is positioned in Barcelona, their relationship with PEMB, their vision of a Food Innovation Hub and if they considered it would be useful to develop one in Barcelona, and lastly, if they thought they could be part of this hub and how. 

Although their professional activities might be different, we found some similar gaps in their day to day job. Most of the players working actively in food innovation mentioned that they find difficult to make connections and to find support either to develop, to grow, to bring awareness, to receive investment, to know each other and exchange knowledge and ideas. They also mentioned that they have difficulties bringing their initiatives to the citizens, and even to the government.

In the other hand, we realized that they not only shared painpoints but their primary goals were aligned, as their activity was focused in create awareness to co-responsibility, share information and knowledge and achieve social and economic development to have food quality and quality of life, through sustainability and innovative ways.

Those key insights drove us to set up a co-creation session, in order to co-create a shared vision for the Food Innovation Hub with some representatives of the stakeholders and with our client.

There are many kinds of crowd-model platforms working in innovation and creativity, art, technology, natural environment, healthcare industry and profit and nonprofit institutions working on delivering better services and improving policies for society. Taking this into account and considering the needs of the main stakeholders, we developed crowd-model focused on food to be the innovation hub demanded by our client.

Barcelona Crowdfooding is, essentially, a platform to connect entities and professionals from different segments that work around food focusing in improving the whole food system in a sustainable way. The crowd model aims to enable a space for collaboration in different ways, not only focused in financial funds, but allowing votes and other offers. The platform is based on two main activities: events and projects, that can be submitted by members of Barcelona Crowdfooding, and curated by an internal department.

The Proposal

Barcelona Crowdfooding, a collaborative platform that provides networking and support to the main actors and projects around food in Barcelona metropolitan area, while giving them visibility towards the citizens.