Once a year in the middle of July, Marzocca beach in Senigallia plays host to an innovative design, architecture, film and food festival called Demanio Marittimo.Km-278.  This unique event was founded by Mappelab and developed as a way to showcase cultural projects and design initiatives from the Marche and Adriatic region. Mappelab is the community portal of Gruppo Gagliardini who also operate Mappe magazine and MStore, an e-commerce platform for bespoke Marchigiano design pieces.

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Initially titled Progetti-Architettura Restauro Design, Mappe magazine was founded by entrepreneur Vittorio Gagliardini, and set out to promote the architectural quality of the region via detailed reportage from dignified design sources. Since 2011 it has grown in scope and complexity, and to corroborate the editorial output, the group has made significant investment in cultural outreach, design exhibitions, events, seminars and workshops. Demanio Marittimo.Km-278, curated by Cristiana Colli and Pippo Ciorra is the group’s most comprehensive and strategic project that is now in its fifth edition.

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The night begins at 18:00pm and only finishes at 06:00am the following day. The ancient beach, which has come to represent the socio-economic identities of the territory (encompassing travel, economics and tourism), is a significant space of urban transformation and sustainable development. It is the perfect place for a rich network of innovators, at the top of their game in cultural modernisation, to come together and collaborate.

As part of the event there are three competitions held across design, food and merchandising. Inaugurated in 2014, the street food competition organised with the Panzini Senigallia Hotel Institute, is open to young Italian students from all hotel institutions. A jury chaired by Michelin star chefs Moreno Cedroni and Mauro Uliassi decided the winning dish that became the official plate of the evening.  The award was handed to Alessandro Antonelli, who created a succulent burger composed of a potato and roasted baccalà patty, tomatoes au gratin and hot sauce.

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Innovation in food was not only evident in the tactile dishes crafted for the evening, but also through the panel discussions that were an integral part of the program. The Food Innovation Program was asked to host its own talk entitled ‘Feed the Future: Playing with Food Traditions’, which was moderated by Future Food Institute Managing Director, Sara Roversi.

The panel was composed of four of our dynamic students including Hildreth England, a digital dietitian and health behaviour designer from Austin, Angela Kelly Lee, a certified chef and expert in gastronomic sciences and sustainable agriculture from Canada, and Chiara Cecchini, a young entrepreneur who studied international management in Russia, France and Italy and is developing her own food app called Feat. Finally, Elisa Bedin, a specialist in Agricultural Sciences, Food Policy and Economics with a special focus on developing countries, completed the international mix.

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“What I found the most interesting about presenting at the DM event was the setting, and how perfectly it encapsulated our panel’s focus on playing in the space between tradition and modernity in food,” says England. “A beach is such an exciting space to talk about the tension that exists when you work in innovation. Every day you stand on the brink of safety and surety, adjusting your footing to deal with the tides as they roll in, and making the decision to jump into a broad ocean of possibilities.”

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The conversation centred on the human stories behind food traditions and the essential technologies that are modernising them. “Social media, technology (e.g. mobile apps) are democratising experiences in food, expanding food spaces, broadening traditions, bringing the unfamiliar into the familiar space,” notes Cecchini. The food and sharing economy is rapidly expanding and people are using technology to share recipes, meals and new hospitality business models. Some great example of leading edge Food and Agtech enterprises include Good Eggs, Quinciple, Sprig and Hampton Creek.

Technology can be leveraged to change food and health behaviour and Cecchini is trying to achieve this with her Feat app. “It combines physical activity incentives, healthy food education, gamification and behaviour changing models in one single idea. We reward people for their exercise and healthy lifestyles, and transform impersonal fitness data into something more tangible and useful,” says Cecchini.

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To conclude the session, the panel acknowledged that whilst technology is becoming increasingly integral in the food and agricultural realm, food innovation is not only about technological advancement. “Innovation in food can also be seen as a product of migration, changes in traditional spaces like the kitchen, and human movement between spaces and geographies,” says Cecchini. The panel discussion went from 00.15am to 01:00am in the morning. Following the talk, the girls got to listen to other panel sessions, enjoy the street food, such as the O’ Fiore Mio margherita pizza laden with balls of pillowy bufalina, and clink together a craft beer or two .

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Demanio Marittimo.Km-278 is a captivating event that highlights the creativity and socio-economic innovation of the Adriatic region. It provides a good dose of critical thinking, art and architectural novelty, and culinary inspiration, and above all, allows participants to be immersed in a marathon of ideas for an inspired and sustainable future.