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Smart Sensor System for Food Safety, Quality Control and Resource Efficiency in the Food Processing Industry

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - S3FOOD (Smart Sensor System for Food Safety, Quality Control and Resource Efficiency in the Food Processing Industry)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2020-11-01 al 2022-09-30

All over Europe, the food processing industry is typically a sector characterized by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In contrast, in terms of turnover, the food and beverage manufacturing sector is the largest sector of all EU manufacturing sectors. For the food industry, digital transformation is a huge challenge. To facilitate and accelerate this process, a stepwise approach, starting from the challenges and needs of the food companies is paramount. The overall objective of S3FOOD, which stands for Smart Sensor Systems for Food Safety, Quality control and resource efficiency in the food processing industry, was to improve quality control and resource efficiency, facilitate the follow-up of food safety through the food production process, as well as the traceability along the food value chain via supporting the digital transformation of the food processing industry. From the project’s outcomes and results it became clear that digital solutions are relevant tools to overcome the challenges the food processing industry is facing. S3FOOD brought together clusters with a background in the food processing industry, IoT, ICT and sensor technology. Via a combination of direct and indirect innovation actions as well as support and capacity building measures, S3FOOD strengthened existing and developed new cross-sectoral industrial value chains within the food processing sector. The designed innovation voucher scheme supported the realization of SME driven exploration, validation and application projects across Europe. Moreover, S3FOOD established a network of living labs, organized cross-sectoral and cross-border events, demonstrations and study visits for SMEs.
The S3FOOD consortium performed a mapping exercise in the involved regions, resulting in a structured, concise summary of the typical needs and challenges of the food industry as well as an overview of smart sensor systems and other IoT related solutions together with their enabling functions that have potential for application in the food value chain identified. Next, 4 thematic priorities were defined for all actions in the framework of the S3FOOD project: sensors, integrations, smart data management and connectivity. The involved innovation ecosystem is complex and includes multiple actors with different fields of expertise. As S3FOOD´s mission, and by extension the Thematic Smart Specialization Partnership ‘Smart Sensors 4 Agri-food’, is to create added value for the agri-food SMEs of the ecosystem, the focus was within S3FOOD on innovative and applicable solutions that contribute to the major challenges the agri-food sector is facing. Living Labs play a central role in this ecosystem (Figure 1). Living Labs are innovation driven organizations that facilitate and foster collaborative innovation between the different stakeholders in the industry 4.0 ecosystem to develop, improve, test and validate digital solutions to specific challenges of the agri-food industry. At the core of the network of Living Labs lies the need for cross sectoral collaboration and innovation and creating a trust zone between all the players in the innovation ecosystem will be a key element. Currently, 23 Living Labs have been identified that make up the network of Living Labs. The Operational Handbook of Living Labs (see is set-up as a roadmap on how to further develop this network and clearly describes the ‘what’s in it for whom’ for the different stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem. Furthermore, both a descriptive and interactive technology catalogue were developed, listing relevant technologies and linking them to specific challenges of the food industry. The descriptive technology catalogue was elaborated to be used internally by the S3FOOD partners in support of SMEs via the ask@service and coaching activities. During the S3FOOD implementation period over 500 SME benefitted from coaching and training support via the S3FOOD partners. As part of this support actions, a descriptive Technology Catalogue to be used by the consortium as well as an online interactive technology map is an online tool that can freely be consulted via the S3FOOD website were developed. In 7 study visits were organized as well as 3 cross-border community building events, in order to inspire and connect the food companies as well as technology and digital solutions providers. The main action of S3FOOD were the 2 open calls for innovation vouchers. Both calls combined resulted in + 300 submitted SME projects of which after evaluation 58 granted were granted. These SME projects include 39 Exploration Vouchers, 10 Validation Vouchers and 9 Application Vouchers, supporting in total 75 unique SMEs (Figure 2). The outcomes of these innovation projects have been disseminated via the S3FOOD newsletter and website, the communication channels of all S3FOOD consortium partners as well as during various events organised by S3FOOD. During the final event, an aftermovie was made highlighting the added value of the S3FOOD voucher funding and support to SMEs. At the European Cluster Conference 2022, S3FOOD received the cluster partnership of the year award, which was a great recognition of the work done by the consortium. The outcomes and insights obtained via S3FOOD will be further valorised and exploited via the activities of the S3 partnership ' Smart Sensors 4 AgriFOOD' in future projects.
The impact of S3FOOD is situated on different levels. The innovation capacity of the SMEs, food processing as well as technology and digital solution providers, was enhanced via the supportive actions (study visits, coaching) and the innovation voucher scheme. The high number of applications – and above all the high number of qualitative and innovative proposals - proved that S3FOOD (and thus the INNOSUP-01 programme) managed to strike the right tone and activate cross-sector SME collaborations. This cross-sectoral collaborations were a true catalyst for the digital transformation in the food industry. The S3FOOD voucher scheme was designed in such way that only innovative, impactful proposals focussing on digital solutions for concrete challenges of the food processing industry could be funded. S3FOOD was set-up to strengthen industrial and digital transformation leadership in the EU and associated countries by making the food processing SMEs more competitive via the better integration of innovative digital solutions as an answer to the concrete challenges they are facing. This proved to be even more relevant in light of the effects of the COVID crisis, the current energy crisis and the challenges companies are facing to reduce their environmental impact.
The final impact will be a more transparent food system with less food waste, improved quality and safety, less use of resources, more potential for growth and innovation in developing new products and processes. The technology providers, digital solution developers and machine producers benefitted from a better understanding of food SMEs' needs and expectations as well as from implemented pilot applications, building a perfect starting point for further market development. Furthermore, the tools and services developed in the framework of S3FOOD will continue beyond the lifetime of the project. S3FOOD is one of the projects that is initiated by the Thematic Smart Specialisation Partnership ‘Smart Sensors 4 Agri-food' (SS4AF -'
Innovation ecosystem for digital transformation in the food industry with Living Labs in the center
Main outcomes of S3FOOD