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Why we must embrace the unknown

Wilhelmina Jewell Sparks is my guest today on Inside Ideas. Jewell is a global executive who has worked in both corporate and startup environments for over 20 years preparing markets and launching innovative products and services in the science, technology, retail, and food industries. 

She is the founder of UNITED17 Venture Lab and the CEO of BiTHOUSE Venture Group, which is a global business development cultivator fostering collaboration and innovation cultures in corporates, innovators, investors, governments and communities.

Jewell is also an active technology scout, angel investor and venture partner focused on sustainably inclusive solutions,  and the integration of innovative technology solutions for corporate venture capital funds and government entities, as the need for customer engagement, growth, digitalization and corporate innovation increases.

To support organisations and young innovators Jewell serves on several global advisory boards, including IADAS (International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences), is a guest lecturer of Corporate Innovation at WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management and is an active advisor and mentor to several startups and accelerator programs focused on IoT, AI, mobility, agrifood, retail, entertainment, fashion, sustainability and health. 

Jewell is also the founder of the AgTech FoodTech Summit and was the founder of the Food und FoodTech Group of the Deutsche Startup Association.   

The trained biotechnologist, global markets strategist and strategic communications expert from the United States, now based in Germany and Copenhagen, has a motto that ‘Bridging the Gap’ can be achieved by ‘Connecting the Dots’. Which Jewell insists must start with education.

“We need as many people as possible rolling the words sustainability, the Sustainable Development Goals off of their tongues,” Jewell said. “That comes from education. Education is something that should be available to everybody: green, purple, tall, short, young, old – whatever. We need to make sure that we are sustainably inclusive. That people know about water systems, that people know about supply chain food sourcing, the climate, innovation. We need to educate and we need to be inclusive.”

This education doesn’t begin and end at the school gate or university campus, either. It is on all of us, Jewell says. Which means listening to different people, learning about different products, from regions you don’t usually look at: to begin truly embracing the unknown.

“Go on a mission,” she says. “Spend 20% of your time in situations you know nothing about, 20% of your time with people you don’t know, who are not referred to. If we start with 20% then maybe two years later it is 40%, then in seven years it is 50%.”

Hear more from Jewell on how we connect these dots and become sustainably inclusive on today’s show.

Inside Ideas is on every Tuesday + Thursday. You can watch all the shows on YouTube, and listen to the audio wherever you get your podcast. And remember to follow the show on Instagram and Facebook.

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Marc Buckley
Written By

Marc is Editor-at-Large for Innovators Magazine and host of INSIDE IDEAS, his OnePoint5Media video podcast show. Marc is an official UN SDG Advocate, member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network, Resilient Futurist, and award-winning Global Food Reformist.

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