The EIT Food Innovator Fellowship: Postdocs collaborating to transform the food system

23 July 2019 News EIT Food Projects The EIT Food Innovator Fellowship enables like-minded researchers to come together and develop solutions to some of the food system’s biggest challenges, including the need for a sustainable circular bioeconomy. The programme recognises that the future leaders of the food system require a range of competencies, from research and academic skills to leadership and entrepreneurship.

The EIT Food Innovator Fellowship: Postdocs collaborating to transform the food system

Overcoming food system challenges requires new skillsets  

Tackling global challenges in the food system calls for diversified skills, where the new generation of entrepreneurs can collaborate to solve food-related issues such as food waste and making healthier food choices. Post-Doctoral Researchers have the potential to become the future innovative leaders of the food system when their different skillsets bring together academic knowledge, entrepreneurship and business leadership. This wide-ranging talent is needed to make a real change.

Explaining the EIT Food Innovator Fellowship

The EIT Food Innovator Fellowship is a professional programme dedicated to Post-Doctoral Researchers working in research centres and innovation departments. The one-year challenge enables Postdocs from both academic and non-academic organisations to work together on innovative projects that can transform the food system. In particular, the programme identifies talented individuals wanting to expand their skill repertoire, and then takes them through an advanced training programme that will develop an idea to improve the food sector.

The Foodathon – a 2-day Food-Hackathon

Half-way through the programme a Foodathon is held during which 50 Postdocs come together to progress their ideas over an intensive 48-hour period. Here the newly-formed teams gain new skills needed to turn these ideas into viable food system solutions. The highlight of the event is the opportunity for teams to present their ideas to an expert panel, where the selected winners go on to receive high-level training and mentoring before finalising their proposal.

  “We appreciated the high level of the speeches and the support of different mentors: they gave us multiple perspectives to analyse our idea, and a great motivation not to give up and develop a real, viable project”

Line Mielby, Aarhus University, POW(D)ERFULL B Team

2018 winners tackling sustainability and food waste

The first year of the Innovator Fellowship was won by POW(D)ERFULL B, AgroGrIN, CiDiWaste and ALfresh. The winners received high-level mentoring and workshops from the project’s three partners designed to advance each team’s original idea.

  • POW(D)ERFULL B – are tackling food waste by turning used grain from breweries into a healthy and dairy-free probiotic
  • AgroGrIN – are specialising in the isolation of valuable enzymes from the by-products of industrial fruit processing to deliver a zero-residue process
  • CiDiWaste – are using advanced technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to characterise the exact make-up of food wastes to identify where they can be best utilised
  • ALfresh – allows people to ‘grow’ their own Omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy diet by producing algae in the convenience of their own home.

Why talented individuals should get involved with the EIT Food Innovator Fellowship

There are many reasons why talented individuals should get involved with the programme. These include:

  • The opportunity to work with a range of people from different academic and non-academic organisations.
  • The chance to develop a potentially disruptive idea and formulate a viable, sustainable team project ready to hit the market.
  • To experience funded trips and network with talented individuals from all over the world in an immersive and creative context.

The EIT Food Innovator Fellowship accepts talent from a wide range of areas including: Business Analysis, Modelling and Planning; Leadership and Organisational Changes; Project Management, Public Engagement and Responsible Research and Innovation, Science and Technology and Sustainable Developmental Goals.

A new call for applications for the Innovator Fellowship is currently planned for 2020, with further details available at the beginning of that year. For more information on the Innovator Fellowship click here.

“My experience at the Foodathon was transformational. The combination of [my] placement, cohort experience, & networking access was unparallel. Thanks!”Danny Azucar, CONNECT-EAT_Team"

About the author: Laura Elphick is a Communications and Events Assistant at EIT Food. She holds a First-Class Bachelor’s Degree in Consumer Behaviour and Marketing and is passionate about promoting a sustainable food environment to consumers.

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