Up Close with Team… Sustainability Incubator & Trace Register

This post is part of a special “Up Close with Team…” series, featuring Q&As with the five finalists of the Rethink Supply Chains Challenge.
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Sustainability Incubator and Trace Register’s solution centers on traceability software that enables seafood suppliers to voluntarily report on the origins of their catches and vessel working conditions. The team is one of five Rethink Supply Chains finalists competing for a $250,000 grand prize. Stay tuned for the winner announcement in April!

Why is this Challenge important to you? What do you hope your solution will achieve?
This challenge is important to us as developers of business-to-business applications for a high quality standard in seafood. Our clients are trying to source quality seafood, and we offer a combined solution for ethical and sustainable sourcing that otherwise does not yet exist in the seafood sector. Seafood is sourced by people and includes the seafarers handling 90% of the world’s trade. Most crew and most fish have origins in developing countries, and there is a very real slavery hazard today despite widespread claims of seafood sustainability. Buyers also have the hazard of importing illegally fished products. Our expertise and technology, with support for further development through this challenge, can help companies directly address these problems.

What inspired your solution?
Trace Register believes that digital traceability and analytics begin and end with people. Our solutions have been created to help companies in the complex seafood supply chain deal with the many business challenges they face, such as food waste, product rejection due to non-conformities, inefficient product recalls, difficulty meeting regulations on labeling, as well as difficulty in confirming a product is sustainable. In developing our enhanced traceability technology, we recognized the need to digitally prove that product data meets a set of requirements, whilst maintaining confidential business information, called digital certificates. This is a powerful tool that is adaptable and includes algorithms that can help pinpoint supply chain issues, including slavery. The Labor Safe Screen algorithm is a powerful algorithm for identifying slavery and illegal fishing in seafood production, and we are plugging it into the Trace Register system. Working together with Sustainability Incubator, we are combining evidence-based research with real world practices and supply chain data to identify human rights conditions in the seafood industry.

Your team has entered the Finalist Accelerator phase, which includes expert mentorship and participation in a live boot camp. What do you hope to learn through the process?
Our goal is to provide expertise and tools that will enable the seafood sector to improve conditions for people and oceans as they deliver consistently good food. We are hoping for fresh ideas to include in a product that will be well received by supply chain participants as both a way to reduce slavery in supply chains as well as being a valuable tool to drive supply chain efficiencies. Different types of evidence are available from different people at different places in production. We need to understand the user as an information provider and as a consumer, and we hope to learn how to speak to and engage users better. If the boot camp gives us the pathway to help turn perceptions of voluntary corporate efforts against slavery into a value-add – where it is still a scary proposition in the seafood sector – then this will be a key learning benefit.