A ‘substantial’ increase: EIT to invest €56.4m in sustainable food chain initiatives

By Katy Askew contact

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags: EIT Food, European Institute of Innovation and Technology, EIT, Sustainability, Innovation, start-up

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) will invest €56.4m in projects that aim to ‘transform’ the agri-food system in 2019, a 44% year-on-year increase.

EIT Food focuses on six strategic objectives that guide its response to the key demographic, environmental and health challenges “threatening the future of people and the planet”​ via the transformation of the food system.

EIT Food has six strategic objectives:

  1. Overcome low consumer trust: support Europeans in the transition towards a smart food system that is inclusive and trusted;
  2. Create consumer valued food for healthier nutrition: enable individuals to make informed and affordable personal nutrition choices;
  3. Build a consumer-centric connected food system: develop a digital food supply network with consumers and industry as equal partners;
  4. Enhance sustainability: develop solutions to transform the traditional ‘produce-use-dispose’ model into a circular bio-economy;
  5. Educate to engage, innovate and advance: provide ‘food system’ skills for students, entrepreneurs and professionals through advanced training programmes and open online courses, and
  6. Catalyse food entrepreneurship and innovation: foster innovation at all stages of business creation.

These objectives aim to build consumer trust, help people make informed and healthy choices and build ‘connected’ food supply systems. They will also support education and entrepreneurship.

“The challenges that we face together in the agri-food system are huge, and it is only investments like these that will enable our unique network of partners to deliver radical change on how food is innovated, produced and valued by society,”​ EIT Food CEO Dr. Andy Zynga said.

Announcing the funding boost, EIT-Food said the enhanced 2019 investment will be used to accelerate its activities through its partner network, which is made up of more than 50 organisations from the food industry and university sector, alongside more than 50 agri-food start-ups.

Funds will be invested in EIT-Food’s “diverse innovation ecosystem”​. A total of €6.8m has been allocated for projects supporting start-ups, €7.8m is earmarked for food system education and €5.2m will be devoted to public engagement. Innovation projects that aim to create “marketable products and services” will receive funding of €25.6m.

“Each of these areas brings a unique focus, helping to develop talents and leaders that will transform the food sector, create and scale start-ups to deliver new food innovations and businesses, launch new innovative products and ingredients and empower consumers to take an active part in the transformation of the agri-food system.” -EIT

Dr. Zynda added he is “delighted​” EIT Food has secured this “substantial investment”​ in the agri-food system.

EIT Food’s 2019 projects include activities that aim to sustainably increase food production, reduce food waste, improve public health and measure consumer confidence in the agri-food sector.

The budget increase was secured by EIT-Food from EIT under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework. 

In the next Project Horizon budget, for 2021-27, the EC plans to invest €10bn in supporting agri-food research and innovation. The funding proposal is a significant expansion for Project Horizon, which was launched in 2017 to support “knowledge and innovation​” in the sector. In the six-year funding cycle to 2020, the EU will have spent a total of €6bn on food research and innovation.

Among other objectives, EIT-Food hopes to:

  • Create 86 and support 533 start-ups within seven years, attracting in total €191.6m
  • Train over 400 graduates from EIT-labelled Master's programmes and have 285 000 participants overall in educational programmes over seven years
  • Develop 398 new or improved products, services, and processes by 2024
  • Have 147 000 citizens participating in an annual food Trust Measuring Tool over the seven years.

All 2019 projects are available to view on the EIT Food website​.

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