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Building a trusty future food system by using blockchain tech

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TrustEat (Building a trusty future food system by using blockchain tech)

Reporting period: 2020-10-01 to 2021-12-31

Food safety is a basis for effective functioning of markets with trust and transparency. Food safety risks occur along the food chain from a number of contaminants. In addition, malpractices or fraudulent practices could also lead to increased food safety risks. It is of major importance for the public health to develop integrated approaches along the entire food chain for detecting, assessing, and mitigating pathogens and contaminant hazards. The food blockchain technology would allow to ensure the food value chain integrity to consumers, that is, safety, traceability and authenticity. By using blockchain all the stakeholders in the food value chain will know where their food comes in real-time data, which can really increase trust and confidence about food production from start to finish.
By establishing a link between two of the best leading institutions in food integrity and blockchain, INL will improve the quality and the innovative nature of the developed research, will strengthen the interaction of partners, taking the research to the
next level.
The TrustEat project is a Twinning action between the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL, Portugal), Wageningen University & Research (WUR, Netherlands), and IBM Research Europe (Switzerland) in the field of food blockchain. The essence of the partnership is to strengthen the research area of food blockchain, focusing on improving INL´s research profile and capturing future opportunities of joint research. With these objectives, partners will develop a R&D Strategic Roadmap, will conduct training for senior and junior researchers, benchmark activities in research management and develop different activities with stakeholders to make the project sustainable, facilitating the transfer of knowledge. Activities include staff exchanges, expert visits, on-site/virtual training, workshops, conference, joint summer schools and activities to increase the ecosystem awareness.
During these first 15 months of the project, INL has strengthen the collaborations with its partners (WUR and IBM) and its knowledge in the area of agrifood blockchain.

TrustEat has developed a R&I Roadmap that focuses on actions to ensure the sustainability of the project. To define this Roadmap, WUR and IBM had meetings (3) with INL members to find out what was their level of knowledge in the field of agri-food blockchain. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, all activities were organised online. A survey was conducted to which 19 people of INL replied. Based on these outcomes and also on suggestions by participants, a list of 19 topics (organised by modules) was defined for the next activities, namely workshops and lectures.

In these period Two Talent Programmes were initiated: one dedicated to the ERs – Talent Programme I – and another one for ESRs – Talent Programme II. A third Talent Programme devoted to Project Management will start in the third year of the project.

In the Talent Programme I for ERs, 3 workshops were delivered by all TrustEat partners. The target audience was ERs INL. Topics were organised under the 3 modules. Around 35 participants attended. They expressed satisfaction with the contents, organisation and level of interaction. The second activity in the Programme for ERs were the Expert Visits (lectures). As with the other activities, due to the pandemic restrictions, it was decided to organise these lectures online, in May-June 2021. This activity was also aimed for external ERs. 34 participants attended each of the 3 days of the Scientific Lectures, and according to the survey they were highly satisfied with the contents.

Under the Talent Programme II for ESRs, an online Summer School was organised. It was prepared and targeted for ESRs (not just from INL but also from other entities), but ERs from INL were also accepted to participate. The Summer School framed different activities, such as the planned Virtual Trainings and Seminars, as well as a second round of Scientific Lectures (Talent Programme I). Tutoring was offered to 3 INL researchers. The School also offered a Career Session, a Satellite day with speakers from other well reputed organisations and a Social Session. Participants expressed satisfaction with the contents of the workshops, the organization and the level of interaction.

TrustEat organised the 1st Technical Workshop for May 2022 and the ESR Secondments, collecting expressions of interest for ESRs.

On the Sustainability Programme, two actions were performed: 1) A Virtual Cooperation Platform was created and 166 members conformed if by the end of this Reporting Period. On average 5 posts were shared per month. In Dec. 2021 it had 64 active members and 642 posts views. 2) A Think Tank was created with 16 members from industry and academy. The 1st Forum will be held in March 2021 and will count with the participation of regional and national innovation agencies.

On the Dissemination side, TrustEat counts with a project website were all information about the project can be found. During the reporting period it had 2,300 visits and 1,700 sessions. All partners disseminated the project information, events and outputs in their social media and a newsletter was published in Dec. 2021. INL promoted TrustEat in 2 conferences.

A funding opportunities roadmap was elaborated, identifying common topics of interest for partners in the area of agri-food blockchain. Partners prepared together 4 applications to Horizon Europe calls.
Internal monitoring of the project has been done every 6 months. The project has met each semester with the 5 prestigious members of its International Advisory Board, who has provided advice to the consortium.
TrustEat has expanded the knowledge INL has in the area of blockchain, allowing INL to include different aspects in their research, especially in sensors development and valorisation. It opened up potential new ideas to apply with companies, especially in the use case of wine. This should be a solid foundation for working with these technologies, a major goal of the project.

The project has brought INL visibility to European partners, being invited to 2 consortia of HEurope proposals related to Blockchain. INL and WUR prepared together 4 proposals of Horizon Europe. It is expected to increase this involvement during the following period of reporting.

6 work plans were elaborated by INL potential secondees to be hosted by IBM and WUR in 2022. The topics and ideas to be explored in these secondments will provide new knowledge that will be published.

TrustEat is promoting the involvement of regional stakeholders (4) in blockchain proposals. TrustEat has created a Think Tank in Portugal/Galicia that will be a laboratory of ideas for different stakeholders (industry, researchers, and policy makers) in the area of agri-food blockchain. It is expected that discussions held will be a starting point for new collaborations.

The project is increasing the opportunities for joint research and research management activities, including organisational and strategic alignment of business plans from a short-term and long-term perspective. It is also expected to use mutual resources and infrastructure availability across a wide range of Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) for increasing business opportunities.
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