IFR welcomes new focus on food innovation

5th December 2011

The Institute of Food Research welcomes the news that the European Commission, through the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, is to establish a Knowledge Innovation Community focussed on driving innovation in the food chain, from farm to fork.

“The news that food has been selected as one of the themes for the new KICs is a tremendous boost for innovation and research into the food chain. It recognises the central importance of sustainably supplying healthy, nutritious food to the European population, and the opportunities for innovation and building business capacity that the KIC will bring” said Professor Tim Brocklehurst, Head of the IFR’s International Office.

The mission of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an institute of the European Union, is to increase sustainable growth and competitiveness throughout Europe by reinforcing the innovation capacity of the Member States and the EU. To achieve this, the EIT has established Knowledge Innovation Communities (KICs) which link the higher education, research and business sectors to boost innovation and entrepreneurship.

The European Commission has allocated a budget of €2.8 billion in the next financial framework to enable the EIT to expand and consolidate the development of its existing KICs.

Under the leadership of Foodbest DK/S, a network of Swedish and Danish food companies and researchers, IFR worked with colleagues from the University of Bologna, INRA and Wageningen University for Research to develop, promote and successfully lobby for the Food KIC.

Food is one of three new areas selected for KICs by the European Commission, along with Healthy Living and Raw Materials.  The first three KICs established in 2009 were Climate Change and Mitigation, Sustainable Energy and Information Communication Technology, and these have been working to convert ideas into products, and to take research findings from the laboratory into the market. Training students and equipping them with entrepreneurial skills has also been a key outcome from the existing KICs.

The EC also adopted a proposal for the EIT’s Strategic Innovation Agenda, which defines the framework for its operations in the years to come. This will provide an impetus for creating up to 600 start-up companies and for training 25000 students and 10 000 PhDs in new curricula combining excellent science with a strong entrepreneurship component.

The next wave of KICs, to be established in 2018, will focus on: added value manufacturing (developing more competitive, sustainable and environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes); smart secure societies (addressing Europe’s security gaps through the development and deployment of innovative ICT solutions); and urban mobility (delivering a greener, more inclusive, safer and smarter urban mobility system).

The themes were selected on the basis of criteria established by the Commission, following a public consultation with the innovation community.