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Innovation for Europe's delectables

An EU-funded project established a network of food clusters to boost investments and innovation in Europe's food and drink industry.
Innovation for Europe's delectables
The EU food and drink industry is Europe's largest manufacturing sector, with a turnover inching towards the trillion euro mark. But a shrinking market share of global food exports now threatens its competitiveness. Only effective and rapid innovation can help reverse this downward trend. As such, action has to be taken to increase regional investments in research and technological development (RTD), as well as to sharpen the innovative power of companies.

The 'Food innovation network Europe' (FINE) project set out to accomplish just that by developing the necessary strategies, tools and policies to not only increase the volume of such investments but their effectiveness as well. A first step in this direction was to establish a network of emerging food regions focused on engaging stakeholders and setting the stage for interregional collaborative projects.

Employing a cluster-based approach, FINE partners extended the sustainability of the network to further develop regional research-driven clusters through improved access to regional research infrastructures and more coordinated investments in them, more effective regional research policies and best use of available funding. The network succeeded in making a major impact on regional policies for food research and technological development (RTD) and innovation, and resulted in a number of interregional research and innovation projects that even included the field of infrastructure.

A FINE workshop for regional policymakers also gave participants the opportunity to discuss the results of the project and its final policy recommendations. The focus of these was on stimulating research and development (R&D) investments and innovation in Europe's food sector through strong food clusters, enhanced policies and interregional cooperation.

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