S2G is excited to share that five of our portfolio companies were recognized as part of Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards, which highlights businesses and organizations that are driving positive global change. Now in its fifth year, the competition received an all time record of 3,000 entries from across the globe, and honored 34 winners and hundreds of finalists including our portfolio companies - Back to the Roots, Brightseed, AppHarvest, Apeel and Sweetgreen.
Back to the Roots
Back to the Roots is an organic gardening company and pioneer in small-space, indoor gardening. Last year the company launched the first 100 percent US-grown seed packet company in the country, which includes 92 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers which are all organic and non-GMO and complements the rest of the brand's full line of organic gardening products.
Back to the Roots received honorable mentions for their 100% US Grown Seeds Program in the general category, which recognizes the broadest ideas that have the potential to effect true systems change, and the corporate social responsibility category, which highlights corporate initiatives that use a company’s platform and power to advance change, either internally or for the community. Both of these recognitions speak to Back to the Root’s mission to connect consumers to the source of their food while supporting American farmers who have traditionally been overlooked by seed companies.
Brightseed is a finalist for the AI and Data category which recognizes projects that harness the power of data, machine learning, or artificial intelligence to understand the world and empower change. The company’s discovery platform, Forager, is the first and only artificial intelligence platform to map millions of bioactive compounds and to identify the presence of specific nutrients in plants that are believed to boost human health. So far Forager has analyzed over 700,000 compounds for their health properties and is on track to surpass 10 million by 2025. Once Forager identifies the presence of key nutrients in plants, those plants can then be cultivated or their compounds manufactured to produce ingredients for consumer foods.
Fast casual salad chain, Sweetgreen, also received an honorable mention in the Corporate Social Responsibility Category for their Impact Outpost Program and was recognized as a finalist for their Tingly Sweet Potato and Kelp Bowl in the food category which features projects changing what we eat, how we eat, and how we get our food.
At the start of the pandemic, Sweetgreen launched their Impact Outpost Fund, a partnership with chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen that donates free salads and bowls to hospitals. The fund is based on the company’s already existing Outpost Platform, which offers free delivery to office buildings via designated kiosks. The Impact Outpost Fund leverages that platform and the logistics and team members that drive it, but redirects the food deliveries to front line workers and vulnerable communities.
Sweetgreen’s Tingly Sweet Potato and Kelp Bowl was designed to highlight seaweed, an ingredient that has the potential to heal our oceans, provide numerous health benefits and improve the financial viability of struggling fishermen. The company is highlighting the benefits of seaweed across 104 locations from New York to Los Angeles, with the culinary inspiration and support of restaurateur and chef, David Chang. The kelp is sourced from Atlantic Seafarm, a company working with lobstermen in Maine to diversify their income streams in the face of reduced catches as a result of climate change.
Indoor farm company, Appharvest, received an honorable mention for their AgTech Entrepreneurs High School Program. Launched in 2018, the container farm program demonstrates AppHarvest’s commitment to promoting interest in high-tech farming in Appalachia. The program provides shipping container farms to schools which serve as hands-on agricultural classrooms as well as a source of fresh leafy greens for students and people in need in local communities. Through this program, Appharvest is able to “grow their growers” while creating a more resilient Appalachian economy.
Apeel also received an honorable mention in the food category. Apeel uses materials that already exist in the peels, seeds, and pulp of fruits and vegetables to create a protective extra layer that seals moisture in produce and keeps oxygen out. This technology doubles the shelf life of produce and means that less produce goes to waste throughout the supply chain. Considering that over 30-40 percent of our food goes to waste in the US, Apeel’s technology is an essential tool in masking sure more food ends up on our plates instead of in landfills.