At EIT Food, we believe that we are all responsible for, and connected to, the food that we eat so we all need to work together to improve it. Our role is to bring all players together, and guide and accelerate the innovation process that will transform the food system. The COVID-19 crisis has placed unprecedented pressure on the global food system, calling for innovative thinking and ways of partnering to face the immediate challenges of the pandemic as well as the future recovery.
The EIT Food COVID-19 Rapid Response Call focuses on innovation projects which deliver:
- Rapid impact: this initiative will fund activities executed until 31 December 2020. As such, the innovative solution (product, service, startup created) must be ready for launch by the end of 2020, and be on the market by end Q2 2021 at the latest.
- Significant impact: applicants must demonstrate how the initiative will deliver both economic and societal impact, specifically addressing the COVID-19 crisis or possible future similar Pandemics.
Results of the call
Following EIT’s recent announcement on its Crisis Response Initiative, EIT Food has awarded 13 innovation projects EUR 6.17 million in total. The selected projects focus on supporting three food system challenges EIT Food is currently tackling.
- MeDiCo-Health (€ 238.75K), supported by the Technical University of Munich (GE) and the University of Turin (IT), will conduct research at hospitals in Italy and Germany into whether deficiencies in micronutrients such as zinc, selenium and vitamin D have a correlation with the severity of disease in COVID-19 patients.
- SPIN (€ 410.9K) will work towards the development of a nutritional supplement based on natural ingredients and will test its ability to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The supplement will not be a replacement for SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations. This project will be carried out by University of Bologna (IT), IARFR PAS (PL), IMDEA (ES), TGD (IT), Molino Naldoni (IT) and Xeda (FR).
- CovidX (€ 615.9K), delivered by MATIS (IS) and Algaennovation (IL), aspires to bring a food supplement based on a novel Spirulina-extract to market, providing a natural shield to high-risk population groups such as the elderly and people with severe underlying medical conditions, as well as high-exposure groups e.g. medical personnel.
- ImmunoBoost (€ 260K), led by Queen’s University of Belfast (IE), Colruyt Group (BE) and Linwoods (IE), aims to bring better sourced food to the population, protecting against the effects of COVID-19. They will create a new product building on a newly discovered plant polysaccharide, to help consumers have a better functioning immune system.
- Mtching COVID (€ 529.9K) will launch a platform connecting recovering COVID-19 patients with dietitians and health coaches to motivate them, follow-up and provide inspiring recipes. Partners of this project include SmartWithFood (BE), Colruyt Group (BE), Aarhus University (DK) and Eroski (ES).
Supply Chain Disruption
- FRIENDS Reduce Food Waste (€ 702.5K), by Wasteless (IE) and NX-Food (GE), intends to implement the usage of dynamic pricing technology to reduce food waste by up to 40%, ensure smoother supply of perishable goods and bring fairer prices to consumers in 40 branches of a German supermarket chain.
- Robin Food (€ 553.7K) will offer new life to the large volumes of surplus vegetables resulting from the pandemic, by transforming them into nutritious soup. The soup will be redistributed to socially vulnerable groups in Belgium, The Netherlands and Spain. Partners include Rikolto, Okay, Colruyt Group, KU Leuven, RISO Vlaams-Brabant, enVie (all from BE), Eroski, CLC South, Robin Good (all from ES) and Verspillingsfabriek (NL).
- Smart-ET (€ 276.2K), by Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (IT), Associazione Italiana Allevatori (IT), University of Reading (UK) and Agricolus (IT), will use COVID-19 data from farms and existing models to predict variations in dairy production and market feed costs, helping to reorganise dairy production and supply rapidly and efficiently during pandemic events or similar market shocks.
- Safelivery (€ 466.5K) will construct innovative food delivery services and protocols to reduce the risk of surface and packaging contamination of “Ready To Eat Foods” with microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. Partners of this project are University of Bologna (IT), Queen’s University of Belfast (IE), Tecnoalimenti (IT), Technological University Dublin (IE) and ARIA (IT).
- Healthricous (€ 173.75K), will introduce a digital solution that makes shopping, cooking and keeping track of the daily food intake easy and accessible, taking personal preferences, intolerances and allergies into account. In this way, the project aims to empower consumers to pursue a healthy and balanced diet. The project will be delivered by SmartWithFood (BE), Colruyt Group (BE) and One Planet Research Centre, a consortium made up of Wageningen University and Research, Radboud University, Radboudumc (all from NL) and IMEC (BE).
Food Safety Risks
- COVICOAT (€ 485K), led by the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (PT), Eroski (ES) and 2BNanoFood (PT), aims to develop an edible antiviral coating to prevent surface contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables with COVID-19. They will then assess its performance in relation to how it may change the taste, smell and colour of food to ensure its acceptability in the consumer market.
- PASS (€ 667K) intends to design plasma-assisted sanitation systems for packaging, equipment and tools used in the processing and handling of food products. The project’s main goal is to deactivate the COVID-19 virus and will be carried out by University of Bologna (IT), Lund University (SE) and Almaplasma (IT).
- COVID-19 BAEMitup (€ 792K) will build a diagnostic platform to improve the on-site testing capacity of food industries. This project, by SwissDeCode (CH), Microbion (IT), CSIC (ES), University of Helsinki (FI) and Eurofins (FR), will contribute to the security and resilience of the European agrifood system.
EIT Food ecosystem
EIT Food is - above all else - a network, and our excellence comes from our Partners. The initiative is made up of a consortium of key industry players (multinationals, nationals and SMEs), agrifood startups, research centres and universities from across Europe.
Within our ecosystem we also work with organisations not yet part of the EIT Food consortium. Non-partners can participate in the Covid-19 Rapid Response Call by collaborating with a current EIT Food Partner (see our partners list) willing to lead the project or join an already engaged potential COVID-19 proposal consortium.