EIT Food announces recipients of €6.17 million COVID-19 Innovation Fund

Winning innovations include an edible anti-viral coating for food, a test for micronutrient deficiencies’ effect on disease strength and dynamic pricing technology which can decrease supermarket food waste by over 40%.

EIT Food has announced the final list of initiatives that will be awarded EUR 6.17 million of funding as part of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Call for Innovation projects. The Call was designed to fast-track product or service solutions that could have a significant and immediate impact to the challenges brought about by COVID-19 on the agrifood sector.

The funding is being awarded to 13 projects in total, made up from consortia representing 52 global organisations. Lead organisations include the Technical University of Munich (TUM) from Germany, INL from Portugal, SwissDeCode from Switzerland, Wasteless from Israel, UNIBO from Italy, Matis from Iceland, Rikolto from Belgium, UCSC from Italy, Queen’s University Belfast from Northern Ireland, and SmartRetail from Belgium.

As part of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT)’s Crisis Response Initiative, this activity directly contributes to the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the leadership of the EIT, EIT Food and its other Knowledge Innovation Communities (KICs) have been able to deploy these COVID-19 Response Calls at an unprecedented speed, ensuring that industries across Europe are being supported in their time of need.

The COVID-19 Rapid Response Call for Innovation was launched in May 2020 alongside the COVID-19 Bridge Fund, which was designed to support startups that have been adversely affected by the pandemic. The total available amount awarded to EIT Food is EUR 10.25 million for both funding opportunities. Implementation of projects started in early July 2020, a mere 6 weeks after the call was launched.

The COVID-19 Rapid Response Call for Innovation focuses on supporting three food system specific challenges that EIT Food is currently tackling:

Improved Nutrition (EUR 2.05 million awarded to five projects in total)

  • MediCo-Health, a project supported by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) from Germany and UNITO (University of Turin) from Italy, has been awarded EUR 238 750 of funds to 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. The aim is then to test tailored supplementation in placebo-controlled trials to see if they can improve patient outcomes
  • Other projects that have been awarded funds in the Improved Nutrition category are: ImmunoBoost (EUR 260 064 awarded), CovidX (EUR 615 940 awarded), SPIN (EUR 410 932 awarded) and Mtching COVID (EUR 529 915 awarded).

Supply Chain Disruption (EUR 2.18 million awarded to five projects in total)

  • FRIENDS Reduce Food Waste, by Wasteless from Israel and NX-Food from Germany, aims 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. The project has been awarded EUR 702 500.
  • Other projects that have been awarded funds in the Supply Chain Disruption category are: Robin Food (EUR 553 700 awarded), Smart-ET (EUR 276 202 awarded), Safelivery (EUR 466 586 awarded) and Healthtricious (EUR 173 750 awarded).

Food Safety Risks (EUR 1.94 million awarded to three projects in total)

  • COVICOAT, a project by INL (International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory) from Portugal, Eroski (a Spanish supermarket chain) and 2BNanoFood from Portugal has been awarded EUR 485 000 of funds to develop an edible antiviral coating containing active herbal extracts to prevent COVID-19 surface contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables. 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
  • Other projects that have been awarded funds in the Food Safety Risks category are: COVID19 BAEMitup (EUR 792 208 awarded) and PASS (EUR 667 000 awarded).

Further details on all of the fund recipient projects are available on the dedicated COVID-19 pages on the EIT Food website here.