Bill Layden is a big-picture guy, one who’s fearless in the face of the status quo.
When he was a congressional investigator with the Government Accountability Office, he concluded that the EPA’s pesticide safety review process needed a major overhaul, not just a few tweaks. That earned him a GAO meritorious service award. Addressing Friedman School graduates in 2010, Layden, a member of the school’s board of advisors, challenged them to break the food system—“and break it good.” He added: “Sometimes you have to tear down something to make it better.”
As owner and partner of the food and nutrition consulting firm FoodMinds, Layden helps food companies achieve something that may not seem an obvious recipe for success—grow their bottom line and do right by consumers.
Entrepreneurship is the ability to create something that doesn’t exist, to impact the public positively
“Entrepreneurship is the ability to create something that doesn’t exist, to impact the public positively,” he says, describing the business model that has guided his professional life. “We have demonstrated that a food company can compete and make money on nutrition, health and wellness just as it competes and makes money on taste, price and convenience.”
To encourage Friedman School students to tap into their own inner entrepreneurs, Layden and his wife, Lee Anne, have created something new: the William and Lee Anne Layden Scholarship for Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurs. The scholarship will support students who want to pursue business development and other kinds of entrepreneurial activities at Tufts and after they graduate.
FoodMinds depends on these graduates to provide the intellectual power that drives our vision and mission
“This scholarship seeks to inspire students to have the courage to break through and create something new,” Layden says. “It aims to inspire students to think about entrepreneurship with a business and social purpose.”
Layden says he and Lee Anne chose to invest in Tufts because of the university’s history of entrepreneurship and the international reputation of the Friedman School. He became involved with the school more than 12 years ago, when Professor James Tillotson invited him to speak to students in his course, “Health Messages by the Food Industry,” about the health benefits food companies can claim legally on their packaging. He returned to speak every year until Tillotson retired this past year.
In 2017, Nutrition Entrepreneurship at Tufts got off to a great start
We were excited to kick off our new entrepreneurship program this October with a full panel discussion from many of our new Friedman School Entrepreneurship Advisors. The discussion was followed by more intimate group discussions with Dean Mozaffarian, Friedman School faculty, entrepreneurial alumni, and advisors about ideation and innovation. We are looking ahead to many new events and school programming for our new initiative.
Our Strategic Plan: Discovery and Entrepreneurship
In an ever-changing world of technology, global economies, and advancing knowledge, a focus on scientific discovery and entrepreneurship is more vital than ever to creating novel solutions to promote better eating, food systems, and wellbeing. Many of our alumni have their own businesses and have started food trucks, launched food delivery services, created networks amongst food industry players, helped create food markets, developed health education programs, and established organizations that provide services for refugees.