EIT Food opens call for ideas that will make a real difference to the agrifood sector

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Do you have a concept that you believe has the power to disrupt or enhance the current food system? Pic: GettyImages/Abstract Ariel Art
Do you have a concept that you believe has the power to disrupt or enhance the current food system? Pic: GettyImages/Abstract Ariel Art

Related tags EIT Food Food security Food waste Green Spot Technologies Transparency Net zero Healthy snacks accelerator Innovation Puratos

EIT Food has launched its latest Europe-wide Open Innovation Call for pioneering tech responses to the biggest challenges in the agrifood sector, such as better-for-you snacks and a net zero footprint.

Are you perhaps sitting on a trailblazing concept that will create positive change in the food system?

If so, EIT Food – the world’s largest food innovation community – promises to contribute 70% of funding to bring the groundbreaker to market. It also means you can de-risk your own investment, leaving you to focus on finishing the project rather than the cost.

This year’s call is on the hunt for new and improved processes, services and products – expected to have commercial results by the end of 2024 and beyond – to achieve:

  • Healthier lives through food
  • A net zero food system
  • A fully transparent, fair and resilient food system

“Through this Open Innovation Call, EIT Food will support bold new innovations that promise to transform the way we address agrifood challenges,” ​said Paola Giavedoni, director of Innovation at EIT Food.

“Whether through new products, technology or business practices, we want to hear from organisations with ideas that will help us secure a fairer, more transparent and resilient food system for all.”

You are not alone

The call is open to European organisations, including current members of the EIT Food partnership, as well as external actors in the agrifood space, such as industry, businesses, SMEs, universities and startups. You will need to demonstrate your ability to fund 30% of your project costs from other sources.

EIT Food is accepting submissions in two windows: the first deadline closes on 14 October 2022; the second on 13 April 2023.

It may seem like a daunting task, but you are not alone in preparing that winning proposal. EIT Food is hosting webinars and matchmaking events to ensure you have all the tricks at your fingertips.

Hint: Activity leaders strongly recommend to complete proposals well in advance of the deadline, so you can email it through should a technical glitch occur.

If your idea makes the grade and makes it to fruition, you will be expected to pay a percentage of the original grant back to EIT Food, which will be used to reinvest in future projects. The payment commitment only kicks in once your product or service is on the market and earning an income.

High-impact ventures

Food innovators ra2studios

For the past five years, the not-for-profit’s Open Innovation Call has resulted in a wealth of powerful projects​ that are making a real difference to the agrifood industry.

Such as Green Spot Technologies – interviewed by BakeryandSnacks​ at the start of its journey in 2016 – which has developed a zero-waste process that relies on ‘nature co-designed’ millenary tech (fermentation and side streams of processing (seeds, pulps, peels) from cereals and beverages to create functional ingredients. The French company has been included under the Circular Food Systems programme.

Other cohorts of EIT Food Accelerator Network class of 2022​ were Little Inca (Targeted Nutrition) – smart baby food made from quinoa and other plant-based ingredients scientifically proven to support gut health and brain development; Rize ag (Sustainable Agriculture) – helps farmers to define and finance their climate action plan; the VERY Food Co. (Alternative Proteins) – plant-based functional ingredients that can replace eggs and dairy in baking applications; and Biovaaka (Digitalised Taceability) – which makes waste tracking and reduction practical for professional kitchens

Among EIT Food’s RisingFoodStars 2022 are Bulgarian concern Pollenity (established as Bee Smart Technologies), which aims to help beekeepers take better care of their bees through IoT (Internet of Things) solutions. Israeli startup Seed-X has developed AI driven image analysis tech systems for seed and grain quality prediction to maximise seed quality, while Delicious Data (Germany) uses machine learning to help hospitality and foodservice reduce food waste.

It’s a win:win for all. Earlier this year, French startup Sencrop secured $18m in investment – with support from EIT Food – to help scale its weather forecasting services for food producers.

EIT Food is also focused on diversity and inclusion: EIT Food Youth Mission is an umbrella project to develop a better attitude among schoolchildren towards food and sustainability, and encourage careers in the agrifood sector, while WE Lead Food is the cooperate/collaborate/cocreate network for women in the food sector.

It has even attracted investment from big food concerns like Puratos​ in an initiative called FoodSparks to foster innovation.

EIT timeline

The 2023 Open Funding Call reflects EIT Food’s commitment to inclusive systems innovation. The organisation is one of nine innovation communities set up by the EU’s European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT) to unlock potential to bring new technologies and products to market that will drive a healthy and sustainable food system.

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