Students from the University of Reading have taken part in a programme which challenged them to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to real-life industry challenges.

120 students from across Europe and Israel celebrated their completion of EIT Food’s Food Solutions programme in December 2021. Grouped into 25 interdisciplinary teams, university students took part in one of four Food Solutions projects this year:

  • Empty All: New packaging solutions for sticky or viscous food products to reduce food waste
  • Food for the Elderly (FoodFE): Appealing and nutritious new food products for the elderly to recover their joy of eating
  • GrOAT: Healthy and sustainable food products with oat-based ingredients
  • DIG-it: Innovative business solutions through the digitalization of food value chains

Students, academic supervisors and industry experts, representing more than 27 different organisations and institutions, collaborated together to tackle these challenges.

Some of the innovations developed by students included: a digital tool to improve the use of industrial food waste, collapsible packaging technology for viscous food products, snacks with low sugar and high fibre and/or protein for the elderly, and an oat-based, soya-free tofu alternative.

All students also received an innovation and entrepreneurship education course, designed by world-leading experts to help the teams build a viable business case for their innovation.

Dr Matthieu Arnoult, project partner from the University of Reading said:

“Students from the University of Reading were excellent ambassadors and fully took part in the programme which came up with innovative ideas. It’s very encouraging to see how the students engaged in different ways with challenges in the food system, and shows the bright future that there is for innovation in the food industry.”

One of the students who took part said:

“Participating in [Food Solutions] was not only fun, but also an exceptional learning opportunity for me. It often meant working in interdisciplinary teams on problems we all did not know a solution for. This has not only put me out of my comfort zone often, but more [importantly] it helped me [build] up resilience and taught me how I can learn from others by asking.”

At the final pitch events in November, the winning teams were chosen by a panel of industry experts and awarded financial prizes based on their solution’s innovativeness, viability and potential for impact. Many student teams are now continuing their entrepreneurial journey to develop their solution further and have all gained practical skills and experience that they can take with them into their next endeavours.

The student teams were supported by a consortium of industry partners with different focus areas, including Puratos, Swiss Food Research, Grupo AN, Syntegon Technology, DIL, E-Seniors, Danone, Myllyn Paras, Döhler and many more that were able to provide guidance and mentoring for the students in their areas of expertise. The full list of participating partners can be seen on the Food Solutions website here.

About EIT Food

Food Solutions is a project under the support of EIT Food. EIT Food is the world’s largest and most dynamic food innovation community. We accelerate innovation to build a future-fit food system that produces healthy and sustainable food for all.

Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, we invest in projects, organisations and individuals that share our goals for a healthy and sustainable food system. We unlock innovation potential in businesses and universities, and create and scale agrifood startups to bring new technologies and products to market. We equip entrepreneurs and professionals with the skills needed to transform the food system and put consumers at the heart of our work, helping build trust by reconnecting them to the origins of their food.

We are one of eight innovation communities established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.

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