The EU S3FOOD programme has awarded grants totalling more than EUR 1 million to projects that will enable the digital transition of small and medium-sized food producers. The 20 successful projects in seven European countries have been selected from more than 100 applications for the first round of S3FOOD funding. Five of the awarded projects include Flemish companies!
Behind each project are innovative food producers and technology providers that recognise the need for more customised digital solutions for the European food processing industry, which is largely populated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Through the implementation of digital technology, the aim is to equip these companies to meet growing market demands for improved quality control and efficiency and higher standards of food safety and traceability. Driven by a consortium of 13 European partners, the three-year S3FOOD programme was launched in 2019 to inspire, support and fund this digital change. Activities include study visits to technology centres, ideation, training and matchmaking sessions and the funding scheme. More than 500 SMEs have participated in S3FOOD events so far.
Selection – the biggest challenge
S3FOOD coordinator Veerle De Graef describes both the number and quality of the applications for the first funding round as unexpectedly high. “The selection process was probably the biggest challenge we have faced so far due to the extreme diversity of the project applications and their high innovative potential,” she says. “We were very pleased to see that many SMEs submitted joint applications after finding partners at our events. This included a number of cross-border applications.”
30 funded SMES in total
The 20 successful projects represent 30 SMEs in total and include two cross-border projects. Focus areas vary widely from smart sensors for high-speed processing of brussels sprouts over mobile cobots for improved processing flexibility to smart milk metering for the dairy industry. “The SMEs now have between four and 12 months to work on their projects, depending on whether they have received a grant to explore, validate or implement a new digital solution. That means we will start seeing the first results at the end of this year,” De Graef explains. Discover the awarded voucher projects here.
Next deadlines for applications
Applicants who were not successful in the first funding round should not despair. More opportunities are on the way. The second call for vouchers will open December 2020. For more information about application criteria, the funding scheme and how to apply, visit s3food.eu