Thursday November 23rd sees LSE Generate (the entrepreneurship hub of London School of Economics) launch one of its most ambitious initiatives yet, The Food & Beverage Deepdive Programme), a mutually beneficial collaboration between one of the UK’s most progressive universities and the UK’s bustling SME food & drink scene.
Latest Mintel GNPD (Global New Products Database) suggests that this is a timely pilot scheme for tomorrow’s generation of aspiring entrepreneurs, with the latest share of retail food & drink launches that are entirely new (not new flavours, improved recipe decks or packaging) plummeting to 16% of all launches in the year to Sept 2023, (down from 33% of launches in the year to Sept 2014).
LSE is certainly better placed than academic institutions to foster such a programme, having been named in 2022 the UK’s most entrepreneurial university by Times Higher Education. Better still, this is a well-connected centre of excellence with the capacity to call upon a wealth of past alumni, who’ve gone on to launch some 200+ food and drink brands over the last decade. Past LSE alumni have successfully championed every imaginable food aisle, from clean-deck, soulful soda (Dalston’s Soda) and sustainably brewed ale using surplus bread (Toast Ale), through to gluten-free, crunchy corn snacks (Love Corn), grown-up soft drinks (Nix & Kix) and the world’s best known meal kit provider (Hello Fresh).
According to Laura-Jane Silverman, Head of LSE Generate, “at the heart of our groundbreaking initiative is a clear vision to design and curate a bespoke impact-driven programme geared at supporting current and future food & drink entrepreneurs, which we feel uniquely positioned to run.”
The programme, which is deliberately not restricted to LSE students, will actively extend its reach to any inquisitive ‘founders of tomorrow’ who reside within the wider London F&B ecosystem and who are motivated to explore the countless opportunities to launch their own brand(s).
Such an ambitious incubator scheme might best be viewed as a well-connected speed-dating event, where a safe, supportive environment has been created, not simply to stimulate discussions and debates, but to host every conceivable learning forum from supper clubs, networking events and webinars to guest panels, investor discussions and mentoring pushes.
According to LSE Generate Special Programmes Advisor and Food entrepreneur, Nisha Ramisetty, ‘data shows that almost 40% of UK shoppers actively seek out new discovery brands and ranges as part of a weekly shopping ritual they love. The problem is that in times of economic hardship, many retailers choose to become risk averse, doubling down on trusted incumbent lines that are low on risk yet light on ambition. The UK is an unrivalled hotbed for food innovation, and that is something we mustn’t allow to die.’
LSE Generate’s F&B Deepdive Programme launch event takes place on 23 November 2023 at the London School of Economics main campus in Holborn, London. Speakers for the launch event include:
- John Vincent, Cofounder, LEON and Founder, Longhouse
- Si-fu Julian Hitch, Wing Tsun master and Chief Culture and Mindset Officer, GrowUp Farms
- Jade Hoai, Director of Purchasing and Operations, Whole Foods Market
- Duncan O’Brien, Founder, Dalston’s Soda Co.