NCFIL + LaunchLKN Host Food Seminar
February 16, 2022
The NC Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL) hosted a seminar on February 16 at its facility in Kannapolis in collaboration with LaunchLKN: Why Does Gluten Make So Many People Sick? featuring three speakers offering three different perspectives about what has changed in regards to gluten and humans’ tolerance for it, the event included gluten-free appetizers from Savory Moments and a tour of NCFIL following the presentation.
The Inspiration for the Seminar
Co-founder of LaunchLKN, Chris Boggiano credits a recent business dinner as the inspiration for the seminar. “A quarter of the people [at the dinner] were gluten-free, and I wondered, Why do so many people see benefits from going gluten free? I wanted to set up a talk to better understand the subject myself.”
Over the past several decades, a growing number of people find significant health benefits from eliminating gluten from their diets, yet most people have no idea why. The panel of speakers included three experts in their respective fields to help explain some of the reasons behind the growing gluten-free lifestyle.
Bill Aimutis, NCFIL Executive Director, spoke from a food science perspective. He addressed topics such as differences in how we grow food now compared to the past and the impact that has on the final food product.
Brooke Navarro, founder of allergen-free food manufacturer Without A Trace, talked from an allergen and food manufacturing standpoint. She explained the challenges associated with knowing whether a supply chain is gluten-free and what manufacturers have to disclose. It is difficult to gain knowledge about a product’s allergen exposure because the “Gluten Free” disclaimer is voluntary.
Nicole Magryta, nutritionist and author of Nourish Your Tribe: Empowering Parents to Grow Strong, Smart, Successful Kids, discussed the human body’s role: what’s different about the human body now, what differences within us have changed our health, and what has changed in our bodies that caused gluten sensitivity?
LaunchLKN: Creating an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
Formed in January 2017, LaunchLKN describes itself as “a collaborative community of entrepreneurs, mentors, educators and community leaders dedicated to sharing knowledge and creating a viable, sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem in the greater Lake Norman area.”
Boggiano explains further: “There’s a whole number of mechanisms that exist in Silicon Valley, where I previously lived, that connect people who are trying to innovate. If those exist in North Carolina, they are immature. If we were in Silicon Valley, someone interested in innovating with food would rapidly find out about Bill [Aimutis] and NCFIL. LaunchLKN helps that happen here.”
Co-created with Mark McDowell, LaunchLKN organizes events to introduce the amazing, but often fragmented, talent and expertise that exists in NC. Attendees have the opportunity to meet future business partners, investors, and fellow innovators, as well as organizations and nonprofits they may look to work with in the future. It’s about establishing an ecosystem of innovative people.
Boggiano says, “The connections that come out of [the events] are serendipitous.”
A Powerful Partnership
NCFIL’s Aimutis values relationships like the one with LaunchLKN: “Many local entrepreneurs try entering the food space and quickly realize it’s not easy. NCFIL offers services important to food entrepreneurs, including ideations, recipe conversion to commercial food product formulations, pilot plant capability, and assistance with scale-up. Launch LKN provides NCFIL an opportunity to meet some of these companies.”
The success of this event has Boggiano enthusiastic about partnering with NCFIL in the future. “It was wonderful; I loved it. As an organization, we are generally focused on the Lake Norman area. To me, [NCFIL’s] facility and what’s happening in downtown Kannapolis is amazing. I absolutely imagine we will do some version of a follow-up event in the future,” he comments.