City Stories > Barcelona

Welcome to the story of Barcelona!Click on a link to the right to display: 1) a summary of the city's food goals, 2) contact details, 3) an interview with a city living lab representative or 4) the city's reports on innovation and governance
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  • Barcelona’s focus was on accelerating citizen-driven, local food tech projects  
  • They joined the project to help connect Distributed Design and the maker movement with the food system 
  • They were proactively trying to reach different types of stakeholders, particularly focusing on communicating a co-created vision of food technology through a variety of events and 
  • Challenges were for example the general unfamiliarity with food tech and a lack of public understanding of local, citizen-driven food tech beyond the mainstream food tech, supporting innovators who were mostly in need of funding and support on political issues, which weren’t areas of support our pilot could assist in, and the lack of knowledge and support in the area of business development in the early idea stages 
  • Greatest successes were for example to develop a definition of food technology that was based in co-creation practices and the needs of the local community and seeing local innovators thrive  
  • For a city wanting to embark on a similar journey, the recommendation is to go slow when integrating in the local food network and identifying and co-defining food tech and possible responses with the local community. Have a look at what your local maker space is doing! 
 🥘 Learn more about this story by reading the interview with the Fab Lab Barcelona team below


Fab Lab BarcelonaAlessandra -  Stay tuned at Fab Lab Barcelona social media channels 

The Interview

Click on the questions below to read the answers
What was your city's specific focus in your food system transition and how did you initially start working with this focus area in your city?  
Our focus was to support the technological and social development of emerging food tech projects (local key and developed by citizens) in any of the stages of the local food system. 
We joined FoodSHIFT 2030 to better understand how the maker movement could integrate and collaborate with the food system. Besides, one of our creative talents in the Distributed Design Platform network helped us connect to the opportunity of joining the project, believing it was a way to connect Distributed Design and maker principles to food. 
The process was eye-opening. It was exciting to begin to link to the local food ecosystem as well as getting to know the work that our peers in the maker movement are doing in the realm of food. The process was also quite revealing. We have been able to observe that there is an outstanding interest in the local population aimed at developing technological-social projects and that in fact, they need support to transfer the idea of something abstract to the concrete terrain through prototyping. For us, this discovery process was organic and quite revealing in order to design our food strategy based on this information. 
What were some obstacles or challenges you faced in your food system transition and how did you overcome them (or are planning on overcoming them)? 
One obstacle was the general unfamiliarity (e.g. at a consortium level and while meeting local stakeholders) with food tech and when there was familiarity, that it was associated with mainstream food tech, like meat being grown in petri dishes or big ag like Monsanto. Time availability and timings: Our community often felt like they were a brain drain and were not getting direct benefits back in a timely manner. Additionally, the lack of funding for the participation of the advisory board, especially given the long timeline.  
The 2019 Covid crisis was one of the biggest obstacles for the acceleration programme, since we couldn’t meet in person. This was a constrain for the social learning process and knowledge sharing, especially between innovators. 
The lack of funding mechanisms was another obstacle to helping the initiatives jump from the prototyping phase to the commercial phase. Another obstacle was the lack of knowledge and support in the area of business development from the early stages, since that is not the focus of FAL Barcelona in itself. However it was evident that if we want to bring in innovations successfully in the future , it is necessary to have experts dedicated to the business development area. 
We learned a lot through peer exchanges with the 8 other FALs, as well as the extended consortium, on how to address these challenges. 
Then, more specifically, as mentioned in earlier questions, we worked tirelessly to co-create a new definition for the food technology (creating the “food tech 3.0 concept”) that the local food ecosystem wanted to see with the invaluable input of our advisory board and previous related projects’ approach at the Fab Lab. Then the question from there was working on education and knowledge transfer about that vision, which we did through all of the in-person and online events we took part in at local and global levels, and particularly in the Gitbook resource we put together, which we hope will continue to inspire others who are working in developing food technology that is citizen-driven, open, eco-systemic, just, and regenerative. 
Regarding funding, we tried to be judicious when we asked for unpaid stakeholders to contribute and found ways to try to compensate them as we could. We also allotted 300 euros per innovator for their acceleration process, to be dedicated to technical materials or workshop/event participation. 
With business, we are looking to the broader Fab Lab and Fab City Networks, including our three FELs in Hamburg, Milan, and Paris, as well as the Distributed Design Platform community, particularly to find answers about opensource business models. 
If you look back on the last four years, what would you say were your biggest achievements or impacts that you achieved during the project?   
Developing a definition of food technology that was based in co-creation practices and the needs of the local community, as opposed to the definition we often encounter that makes us think of big agriculture (instead of polyculture microfarms), data (instead of citizen generated data), lab generated meat or produce, etc. We want to see food technology that: 
Are community-based & citizen-powered: initiatives respond to an actual need within a community and prioritise empowering their communities and creating food citizenship, taking stakeholders from passive consumers to agents of action; 
Are regenerative: providing positive environmental, social and economic outcomes; 
Employ open design practices: either (or all) the product, business model, or governance is open access and/or open source, enabling replication & hacking 
Further equity: Supporting intersectional equity and accessibility at the nexus of gender, cultural, racial, and economic lines 
Operate in an ecosystem: systemic innovations and systemic partnerships, and especially the opportunity to partner with other types of tech initiatives (i.e. city/rural, high tech/low tech, for profit/non-profit, etc. partnerships) Within that, it was also being able to support innovators to further develop their tracks of community and technology. Seeing our innovators begin to communicate their narratives, reach new communities and make new connections-- like Gaia Espirulina starting on Instagram, getting engaged in the local community, and even adapting his tech to the needs of the community-- was absolutely amazing.  
What advice do you have for other cities who want to embark on a similar journey? 
We had a bottom-up approach when it came to our journey. So in the first phase of the project, we learned a lot about going slow when integrating in the local food network and identifying and co-defining food tech and possible responses with the local community. That would be particularly important for makerspaces, Fab Labs, and Fab Cities that want to begin to connect with food. For cities and citizens that want to connect to Food Technology from a more inclusive perspective, we  would say to start by looking at your local makerspaces or Fab Labs! Our processes are geared around openness, collaboration, regeneration, and working ecosystemically and that will help communities and cities uncover food tech approaches that are truly citizen-driven. Cities can also check networks like the Distributed Design Platform or MakeWorks to try to locate local actors that are already working on food production and transformation in their areas and that share these principles. 

The Innovation and Governance Reports

FoodSHIFT 2030 deliverable by Susmetro, Netherlands

FoodSHIFT 2030 deliverable by ZALF, Germany

FoodSHIFT 2030 deliverable by ZALF, Germany