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S3FOOD opens innovation voucher call for digital change in the food industry

European food processors are gearing up for a digital future with support from the EU S3FOOD project, which launched its funding scheme this month. Successful small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that apply to the scheme can receive a grant of up to €60,000 towards their transition to Industry 4.0.

Digitalisation is a game-changer for the food industry, where some forward-thinking producers are already using smart technology to improve quality control and efficiency in production and raise food safety and traceability standards to a new level. Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, S3FOOD supports SMEs in developing impactful digital solutions to specific challenges.


Towards digital implementation
Project coordinator Veerle De Graef (Flanders' FOOD) announced the funding launch at the S3FOOD study visit and matchmaking event in Gijón, northern Spain. This was the third event to gather food SMEs for sharing inspiration, developing ideas and establishing partnerships with experts – an ideal backdrop for encouraging SMEs to take the next step to digital implementation.

“Demands on resource efficiency, food safety and quality, and transparency in food supply chains continue to grow. By offering inspiration, coaching and funding, the S3FOOD partners aim to help food processors solve these pressing challenges,” , says.

“Participants in our events are food processors, technology providers and digital solution suppliers. Even before S3FOOD opened to funding applications, we have experienced overwhelming interest. We hope this will now materialise into many innovative applications for S3FOOD vouchers.”


Criteria for funding eligibility
To be considered for funding, SMEs must be either based in one of the S3FOOD partner regions or a member of one of the partner clusters. Their digitalisation idea must also fall into one of four categories – sensors for real-time monitoring, sensor integration, smart data management or connectivity – while addressing a specific food processing challenge.

In addition to providing travel support to events, S3FOOD offers vouchers for exploration, validation and application of digital solutions. SMEs can apply for a maximum of €60,000 each. For individual projects involving a consortium of SME partners, up to €180,000 may be granted, subject to terms and conditions.

S3FOOD will announce the first SME projects to receive funding at the end of July 2020. Visit s3food.eu for more information about the vouchers, how to apply and deadlines.