Johnson & Wales University (JWU), a world-renowned culinary educator, is no stranger to food innovation. Today it is announcing its newest venture to spur therapeutic breakthroughs at the intersection of healthy food and medicine: The Food Innovation Nexus (FIX).
In partnership with three product development entrepreneurs, Michael Allio, Steve Lane and Ken Levy, The FIX is based on two convictions: food is a powerful medium to deliver health benefits and manage symptoms and disease states, and cross-disciplinary collaboration spurs innovation. At any given time, a team of chefs, research dietitians, food scientists, industrial and product designers, marketers, students, strategists and medical experts can be found collaborating to find and fill gaps in the food and beverage market space.
Now, the FIX is ready to spotlight two breakthrough new programs in its growing product and venture portfolio: The Modern Pod Company, LLC and ColonaryConcepts™.
- The Modern Pod Co. – Hummus Pod™
The first venture to launch from the FIX is the Modern Pod Company, whose flagship product line, the Hummus Pod™ was developed with JWU students, chefs and alumni and a team of design-driven inventors dedicated to making healthy, plant-based foods and snacks. The Hummus Pod is “hummus a whole new way:” healthy, creamy hummus encapsulated in a crispy, chewy multigrain crust. The Hummus Pod, which debuted on the campuses of Rhode Island universities, was recently introduced at the Natural Products’ Expo East®, Sept. 21-24, 2016, in Baltimore and will hit shelves regionally this fall. National distribution is planned for 2017-18.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer for both men and women in the United States and the third leading cause of death. Sadly, more than 10 million forgo colonoscopies because of the grueling colon prep process. In partnership with two leading gastroenterologists, Corey Siegel, M.D. and Joshua Korzenik, The FIX collaborated with the team from ColonaryConcepts to develop a palatable alternative to traditional colonoscopy preparation: a meal kit that improves the experience of patients undergoing this process. After successfully completing a Phase 2 trial, ColonaryConcepts is poised to enter a Phase 3 trial; the company expects to launch commercially in 2018.
“The FIX develops patient and consumer-centric products and ventures that focus on food as the medium to deliver a wide array of health benefits,” said Michael Allio, co-founder of The FIX, and strategy and innovation specialist. “Our cross-disciplinary platform unlocks the potential of well-designed foods and beverages to help with the management of health, wellness, and symptom states.”
In addition, The FIX recently launched The Angel Fund LLC, an investment fund that provides capital and strategic support to promising, early-stage ventures in the food sector. The first recipient is Providence-based startup WhatsGood, a cloud-based platform that connects local and sustainable food purveyors, in real-time, with restaurants and institutions seeking better food suppliers. Another recipient is PreMama, a startup seeking to disrupt the prenatal vitamin market by creating pill-free, drinkable vitamins to support pregnancy.
“By investing in The FIX, we are committing ourselves — now more than ever — to creating bold, new advances in the food sector that will have a long-term, positive impact on our students, faculty, alumni and the broader community,” said Dr. Mim Runey, JWU president and chief operating officer. “This venture will serve to expand our academic programs by allowing more of our students to pursue food innovation and research.”