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EIT Food €400k fund to support positive societal impact projects

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Funding is available for food firms working on projects that enhance consumer trust, improve health outcomes and reduce the environmental impacts of the food system
Funding is available for food firms working on projects that enhance consumer trust, improve health outcomes and reduce the environmental impacts of the food system

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Food and drink firms are set to benefit from a €400k (£344k) funding pool to support projects that propose to bring about a positive impact on society.

Applications are now open for EIT Food’s Proof of Concepts Call, which aims to create positive societal impact through public engagement initiatives that enhance consumer trust, improve health outcomes and reduce the environmental impacts of the food system.

Organisations can apply for up to €50,000 (£43,000) in order for them to test out their idea, with successful applicants also able to tap into EIT Food’s community of experts – including potential collaborators.

Examples of projects the Call is looking for include applications that equip individuals to make more informed food choices related to health and sustainability, increase transparency and engagement in the food system, and enable consumer involvement in shaping the future food system.

Funded projects

In 2021, 13 concepts were selected to be tested in that year’s funding round, with projects ranging from and behaviour changing initiative to reduce childhood obesity to a guide for the sustainable disposal of food packaging. Last year saw seven concepts selected and are currently in the testing phase.

Alicia Torres and Finn Harris – coordinators for Juntos Farm, which was selected as a Proof of Concept in 2022 – said the funding provided by EIT Food had enabled them to work with people with the expertise in the areas they wanted to develop and dedicate funding to outreach to their local community.

“This means we are able to learn more about the real needs of the sector on Ibiza – an island that has lost over 50% of its agricultural land in the last 20 years,”​ they added. “Being able to present the project to the agrifood sector on the island is permitting us to gain feedback on where the project is succeeding and failing.

“It has enabled us to monitor broader island-wide social changes, including the growing number of residents working in the food economy and what infrastructure is needed on the island to increase food sovereignty while facilitating a transition to regenerative agriculture.”

Scaling up for successful applicants

Successful applicants will use the Proof of Concepts phase to build a scaleup model for a multi-year project. If the project is proven to have potential for societal impact during the testing phase, the activity leader is expected to submit a full proposal for continuation.

Marta Erquicia González-Careaga, public engagement programme manager at EIT Food, said: “We are excited to be opening up a new round of applications to welcome innovative public engagement proposals that have the potential to transform the food system.

“Engaging with consumers is critical to delivering an inclusive agrifood sector that produces healthy, sustainable food and empowers all people to participate and benefit. We look forward to supporting a new cohort of organisations to test and validate ideas that enhance consumer trust and involvement in our future food system.”

Orgnisations have until 18 August 2023 to apply. Full guidelines on how to apply for the Proof of Concepts Call can be found at: https://www.eitfood.eu/projects/public-engagement-proof-of-concepts-call-24​.

 Meanwhile, last month saw the launch of a Defra-funded, £5.9m research project​aimed increasing the prominence of pulses in arable and pastoral farming.

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