Catalonia wants to create food innovation hub for nutrition, safety and sustainability

By Katy Askew contact

- Last updated on GMT

Catalonia eyes status as regional food development hub ©iStock
Catalonia eyes status as regional food development hub ©iStock

Related tags: Innovation, Food Valley, R&I

Catalonian authorities are launching an initiative to “transform and revitalise” the regional agri-food sector and create a new “food valley” in southern Europe.

The project, Territorial Specialization and Competitiveness Project (PECT NUTRISALT), was unveiled today (26 June) at the head offices of EURECAT, the technology centre of Catalonia.

It involves a collaboration between EURECAT and the Reus City Council as well as other regional research and development organisations. Agri-food research institute IRTA, which is related to the Catelonia Department of Agriculture (DARP), Rovira i Virgili University (URV) and the URV Foundation are also participating.

PECT NUTRISALT launch
PECT NUTRISALT project was launched at the EURECAT head office

The initiatives is focusing on the Reus and the Camp de Tarragona area. It will focus on the development of “innovative, safe, healthy and sustainable food”.

PECT NUTRISALT has a budget of €1.93m through to 2020, with 50% of its funding coming from the ERDF Operational Programme for Catalonia and 25% from Tarragona Provincial Council.

Three axis of innovation

PECT NUTRISALT will focus on what has been identified as three work areas that the project structure is targeting.

Researchers will develop “approach technologies​” to “add value​” to existing products and create new food products that are close to the consumer and support health.

In the field of animal husbandry, PECT has been tasked with developing technology and support platforms in areas such as animal nutrition and rearing that will safeguard food safety, reduce the environmental impact of animal farming and provide regional support structures to producers.

Finally, the project is required to “plan the future regional development and provide support to the competitiveness of companies and agri-food products”​. PECT will facilitate the commercialisation and internationalisation of the regional agri-food sector. It will also provide practical support to start-ups and develop an ecosystem that provides space for the “co-creation of products and new business models”.

Leading R&I in southern Europe

The hope is that this investment in innovation and research capabilities will help transform the region into an “international hub of nutrition and health”.

By developing a specialised innovation hub, it is hoped that the area will become the southern European equivalent of the Food Valley in Wageningen, Holland, which is viewed as a European benchmark in this field.

PECT is complementary to several local and regional strategic plans, such as the the Regional Smart Specialization Strategy (RIS3CAT), which identifies the food sector as the primary strategic sector for the Catalan economy.

“The PECT NUTRISALT project integrates and complements the objectives of the participating institutions and constitutes an opportunity to move forward as a region,”​ IRTA said in a statement.

As part of the project, IRTA plans to construct the Cooking Lab, an experimental kitchen that will specialise in oils and nuts. The facility will be located in the IRTA Mas Bové centre in Constantí.

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