Face behind the course: Meet Silvia Gaiani!

June 15, 2023

Silvia is the face behind the “Food Entrepreneurship, Sustainability and Innovation practices in Africa” course, which will be offered for the first time on next autumn. As Silvia gets ready to lead this interesting discussion, she is looking forward to letting the magic happen through interaction with students and collaborators. Be ready to enroll in such an amazing program.

Silvia Gaiani

Silvia is a senior researcher at Ruralia Institute, University of Helsinki. She is currently leading a long-term research project on food innovation and entrepreneurship toward a sustainable transition. In addition, she is also involved in 6 different projects (at EU, national and regional level) that analyze different aspects of the food systems. Regarding her background, Silvia is an agricultural economist from Bologna, Italy. Before joining Ruralia, she worked for different UN agencies, including FAO and WMO, as well as for different research institutes, like the Italian Research Council.

For Silvia, interacting with colleagues and students is one of the most important sources of inspiration.

“I’m passionate about teaching and I like interactions with students. In fact, I’m learning myself a lot each time I teach!”, she enthusiastically expressed.

Students curious about how the food systems work both in the North and South of the world should enroll in this course and get to know more about food entrepreneurship and innovation. As Finland is at the forefront of food innovations, this course will address new ways to promote them through the launch of business activities. This learning scenario promises to involve a lot of brainstorming, open discussions, and interactions among teachers, invited experts, and students. This course is designed in collaboration with Antti Autio (University of Helsinki), Paula Linna (University of Vaasa), and Simon Wagura Ndiritu (Strathmore University Business School, Kenya), whose contribution will allow students from Kenya to take participation and collaborate with peers in Finland.

Out of academia, you can find Silvia practicing yoga (she is by the way a certified yoga teacher), reading comics, watching Turkish and Indian Netflix series, baking apple pies, and sharing time with her three small kids. What a busy person! Until 2018 she run her own fashion start-up by designing bags made with recycled textiles.

Besides teaching, Silvia gets inspired when traveling and having good conversations. She loves the energy and wisdom that some people can emanate, as much as art and beauty. She is a conference enthusiast and takes the opportunity to participate in as many conferences as possible. She just attended the Arctic15 event a few days ago, from which she got back home energized and full of new ideas.

Silvia loves reading and listening to podcasts. Here she has kindly listed some suggestions on her field:


  • Zero to One Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel.

  • Food and Society by Mark Gibson

  • What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School by Marc Mc Cornack.


  • My Dear Kitchen Helsinki podcast is a series of interviews with researchers, practitioners, activists, local producers and anyone else working on food-related issues.

  • Analisa Winther is a podcast that spotlights individuals and organizations creating a better future through food.

  • African Food Changemakers is a podcast about food entrepreneurs in Africa.

Thank you, Silvia, for sharing your thoughts, recommendations, and experience. We are as excited about this UniPID course as you and are already looking forward to getting involved in food innovation and entrepreneurship debates.

What´s next? If you are interested in joining such thought-provoking discussions, do not hesitate to register and participate in the “Food Entrepreneurship, Sustainability and Innovation practices in Africa” course to be offered for the first time next September. Ensure your place here by 4 September.

Photo credits: Markus Spiske, 2020, on UnSplash