Deep Tech in the Future Food Chain: Harsh Harshvardhan

Food systems have always depended on information exchanged between stakeholders, from small growers and small buyers to global conglomerates, billion dollar shipping firms, and consumers practicing BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store). Harsh is at the center of this enormous data system, making sure the data adds value, reduces waste, and adds food access and security. He’ll join us on 5/4/21 to talk about Integrated Data for Future Food Systems with Robert Steward and Frank Pica - today he shares some thoughts on the deep tech coming to food systems on Earth (and maybe in space).

What are you doing in your work?

As a supply chain R&D specialist at Ahold Delhaize USA I am expected to be an expert on application of emerging technologies on supply chain management. Over the past few years, blockchain and data science / machine learning have been my areas of focus.

What prepared you for what you're doing?

I have over 10 years of experience in global supply chain logistics. I have a Masters of Engineering degree from MIT.

What's an indicator that a food system (or space habitat) is working for the people in it?

High life expectancy, low rates of hunger. Effectively keeping track of our food from beginning to end can reduce hunger and increase life expectancy if we develop the proper systems.

What is the most interesting work going on right now in your area?

I find the recent developments in last-mile logistics the most interesting. MFCs (Micro Fulfillment Centers), autonomous delivery, drones, omnichannel network, etc.

What innovation outside your direct area is most interesting to you?

I am curious about the impacts of quantum computing on supply chains in the next 5-10 years. Quantum computers are going to open up a new era of computing, several trillions times faster than what we have today, and I believe it is only left to our imagination what we can do with it. There will be hardly anything that won’t be impacted.

What problem related to Space for Food most needs to be addressed?

Keeping the food fresh is important in my opinion. That would mean growing closer to the consumers and processing a lot of different items.

Who is doing the most interesting work in your area (other than you, of course!)?

I like the work Urbx is doing on fully automated micro fulfillment centers.

What's your favorite food, space, or ag memory?

When I had my name written on a chip and sent to Mars by NASA. I didn’t have to do much - just filled out an online form and NASA took care of the rest. NASA has been doing this for decades and as I write this they are accepting names for their next flight to the red planet. They do this to make people more interested in space programs. Looks like it worked for me!

What inspires or recharges you?

I love sleeping.

Meet Harsh and other leaders in the intersection of space and food at Space for Food- From Vision to Reality, our free May 4 event where you can also network with others exploring this exciting opportunity space.