About the partnership
The thematic partnership aims at setting up a platform between agri-food- and electronic/IT cluster organisations, relevant research and technology organisations (RTO’s) and other related stakeholders, to lower the barriers for agri-food companies to access and implement the newest smart electronic systems and to enable the Internet of Things (IoT) transition of the agri-food industry.
The collaboration between the clusters and RTO’s will create a trust zone between the involved sectors. This will facilitate the exchange of know-how and will accelerate the introduction and integration of smart electronic systems and embedded technology solutions in the agri-food industry in a broad sense (from multinationals to locally operating SME’s).
In an initial phase, the focus of the platform will be on state-of-the-art technology with smart inline, atline and online food sensors that enable agri-food companies to quickly and accurately measure and share specific parameters and take charge of their own quality and safety monitoring within the new IoT based value chain.
Expected outcome: Achieving the transition towards agri-food industry 4.0 and this with improved/advanced food manufacturing, faster uptake/implementation/application of new technologies by agri-food companies and efficient use of data (big data management).
Focus and topics
The agri-food industry has specific requirements for smart food sensors and the related IT challenges (cloud- and big data management). By creating this envisaged European IoT-based agri-food platform, the involved stakeholders will get a better understanding of each other’s possibilities, needs and requirements regarding these technologies. Four challenges are identified and will be first tackled within our platform:
1st Challenge: Matching the needs of agri-food companies with what technology suppliers can offer and build a trust zone between both sectors, e.g. via demonstrations and living labs (‘Seeing is believing’).
2nd Challenge: Exploring and demonstrating the integration of sensors, techniques etc. in the production line that is often a harsh production environment
3rd Challenge: Stepwise approach towards digitalisation by creating an IoT and big data environment in agri-food companies, starting with investments in IT solutions (e.g. data acquisition platforms and data analysis software) as well as in data analysts that are capable of handling food-related issues.
4th Challenge: Adaptation or set-up of education and training programs to reorientate the organisations and their employees. Dedicated programs will be initiated that cover food science as well as data science to better reflect the industrial demand.
We will tackle these four challenges by following the “Funnel towards sector or community oriented validation model”. This methodology is based on a proven concept developed in the Sensors For Food project and will lead the European agri-food industry towards becoming the IoT based agri-food industry 4.0 in collaboration with the electronic/IT-industry. The aim of the 4-step model is to increase the awareness, explore the application and implement existing, new and upcoming smart electronic systems for the agri-food industry:
Awareness: Continuous process – Activities: identification of intermediate players, cluster organizations and RTO; convince them to join forces; identification of top players in agri-food and IT-technology; frequent meetings and activities
Platform creation: Setting up a forum that offers a trust zone between the involved sectors and which is managed by a cross-sectorial team with a centralized contact point – Activities: setting up living labs as knowledge transfer and demonstration vehicles; screening of needs and opportunities for the agri-food industry; technology watch on emerging sensor innovations; advisory service; partner matching; thematic seminars, workshops, training courses and demonstrations
Evaluation and validation: Collaborative process between all stakeholders providing insight in the specifications needed for industrial applications – Activities: validation in e.g. living labs; development of technology by knowledge centers to a level that technology suppliers and integrators can take further to implementation towards end users; convince end users (agri-food companies) to move towards the implementation phase
Implementation: Important role for system integrators as they make the link from prototype to industrial process, knowledge partners will give advice and further support – Activities: Licensing by knowledge partners; integration by system integrators; investments by agri-food companies; attracting new partners for newly defined validation tracks (reinforcing the funnel).
Wallonia (BE), Eindhoven (NL), Lower Saxony (DE), North-Rhine Westphalia (DE), Lombardia, (IT), Közép-Dunántúl (HU), Navarra (ES), Galicia (ES), Asturias (ES), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (FR), and Attica (Attiki, EL).
Flanders’ FOOD (lead agri-food cluster)
Veerle Rijckaert (New Business Development Manager)
imec (lead RTO)
Kris Van de Voorde (Innovation Program Manager Flanders)
DSP Valley (lead ICT cluster)
Annelies Vandamme (Project Manager Smart Health)
Additional information and documents
Sensors For Food project (2011-2015; http://www.sensorsforfood.com/en/project/platform-0)
i-FAST platform (2016 – 2020; http://www.ifastproject.com/platform)