EIT Food boss exclusive interview: part 1

Coronavirus funding fostering food firm innovation

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Finance, coronavirus

In this exclusive interview, Andy Zynga, boss of European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Food, addresses likely access to funding after the Brexit transition period and three funding recipients that caught his eye.

He also tells Food Manufacture​ how fostering innovation among food startups against the backdrop of a global pandemic were key to EIT Food’s latest round of funding.

The new €5.4m (£4.87m) support fund to help food and drink startups navigate the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak​ was announced by EIT Food last week. UK food labelling business Mimica Touch – which produces a temperature-sensitive indicator cap or label for food freshness – was among the 13 firms that received a share of funding.

“The EU has recognised the pandemic is a real challenge for all kinds of actors in the market and they encouraged our funding agency EIT to support startups and make the system more resilient overall,”​ said Zynga.

Solving the COVID-19 puzzle

Powered by a €60m fund set up by the EU and EIT to help finance Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), Zynga described the COVID-19 support fund as solving two parts of the puzzle.

 “One was startups, because we saw a lot of the startups that we work with struggled with the impact of COVID-19,”​ he added.

“The other part of it is innovation. We figured that there is a really great innovation ecosystem that we already have and we can invite additional players in that have great ideas as to address the issues that come from COVID-19.”

When asked how Brexit would affect the future of funding for UK food and drink startups, Zynga hoped that the UK would secure associated status and keeping channels open for EU projects.

“If you are an associated country, you are eligible to receive funding through Horizon Europe,” ​Zynga explained. “Right now, we have countries such as Switzerland, Israel and Iceland as associate countries also subject to funding.”

Brexit negotiations

Even if Brexit negotiations do break down, Zynga was hopeful that EIT Food could continue to work with UK businesses on projects to help share innovations with their European counterparts.

He went on to highlight some of the startups that caught EIT Food’s attention in their latest round of funding, as well as the trends that were prevalent during the application process.

To find out more, watch this exclusive interview.

Meanwhile, PepsiCo offered £256,085 (€300,000) in grants​ to food and drink entrepreneurs in a bid to grow eight breakthrough brands.

Related topics: People & Skills, COVID-19, Start-ups

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