Tungsram takes up Elon Musk’s $6 billion challenge

Tungsram, a Hungarian technology innovator is proposing an answer to Elon Musk’s $6 billion offer to the United Nations World Food Program  to alleviate world hunger. Indoor farming, food factories for Africa, and integrated food clusters for metropolitan areas are sustainable means to solving the global food crisis.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was quick to respond to a challenge by UN World Food Programme Director (WFP) David Beasley, who reportedly claimed that 2% of Elon Musk’s wealth could greatly help solve world hunger.  “If WFP can describe (…) exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it,” Musk wrote in a tweet

While the debate between the two continues, Hungarian mid-cap Tungsram has a proposal for WFP and the Tesla CEO.

“Indoor farming is the most viable solution to achieve this,” says Tungsram President & CEO Joerg Bauer.  “It is an exciting disruptive technology that balances on the thin line between agriculture, industry 4.0 and digital technology to provide feasible global solutions and produce staple food for large numbers of people in a sustainable way.”

Tungsram – a 125-year-old, innovative lighting and technology manufacturer – has been collaborating with academic and SME partners to develop indoor farming technologies in a quest to eliminate world hunger.

The Tungsram team recently opened a 150 sqm vertical farm in Budapest to facilitate and advance research in this area. The facility, equipped with the company’s own high-end lighting solutions, is one of its kind in Central Europe.

The team is currently working on two indoor farming goals, both deemed highly feasible. The projects focus on so-called food factory units for the African continent and zero-waste, circular food clusters. The food factories would cover basic nutritional needs in rural areas with adverse climate, while the clusters would be located in the vicinity of large metropolitan areas to ensure decentralized food production locally. “Establishing millions of these units could provide healthy and available food independent from weather, season, every single day of the year,” Bauer argues.

Global food security is one of humanity’s most pressing challenges that requires immense amounts of innovation and investment. The money the UN has requested from the world’s billionaires would have to be spent on solving a number of challenges that will pave the way to eventually building these units. One such challenge is a breakthrough in atmospheric water capture that could provide water in climate-stricken, arid areas. Accelerated breeding that could make plants grow quicker and richer in nutrients without genetic modification is yet another innovation that would be a giant leap toward food security. Research and development in fertilizing, energy storage, remote operation, and automation is also a prerequisite to success.

Governments and businesses should provide funding for research and innovation to scale food security. “I’m ready to share the details of our plan with WFP, FAO and Mr. Musk himself,” says Joerg Bauer.