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Cultivating healthy food ventures: the business model perspective



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Van Fossen, Kirsten Ellen  ORCID logo


This research has explored the business model and business model innovation in the context of the healthy food venture (HFV). The HFV is defined as an organised initiative that aims to improve people’s health by encouraging healthy food consumption. This research has grown out of the need to find new ways of tackling the public health issues that stem from the way food is currently produced and consumed. Scholars increasingly suggest that business model innovation helps business practitioners to achieve specific value outcomes. Thought leaders increasingly call for new business models to solve the health problems stemming from the food system. However, the literature fails to offer theory and practical guidance about how to design and manage the business models of HFVs.

The research seeks to answer two research questions: 1) what are the challenges faced by HFVs? and 2) how do HFVs innovate their business models? The purpose of this research is to help HFVs create multiple (both social and economic) value outcomes. One objective of the research is to contribute to the knowledge about healthy food intervention and more specifically, healthy food intervention through business models. Another objective of the research is to contribute to practice and offer practitioners tools that help them to operate successful HFVs. The research questions and objectives aligned with a qualitative approach. The researcher answered the research questions by studying a sample of HFVs using action research, autoethnography and traditional case study methodologies.

The research has produced specific insights and tools that can help HFV practitioners and scholars. The insights highlight the multiplicity of value that is embedded within food. Its value richness creates both opportunities and challenges for HFVs. The research has developed a context-specific business model framework—the Business Model Blossom (BMB), and has also led to the development of a business model innovation language that complements the Business Model Blossom—the Negative Value Diagnostics (NVDs). Besides these specific insights and tools, the research has challenged the current business model literature as to the precision of the business model and business model innovation concepts. It has created future research opportunities for implementing and refining the Business Model Blossom and Negative Value Diagnostics with HFV practitioners, as well as practitioners from other industries.





Evans, Stephen


business model, business model innovation, sustainable business model innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability, food intervention


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge