The European Commission is challenging European innovators to come up with a food scanner, an ICT-based solution to measure and analyse people's food intake, and win a Horizon Prize. Participants will compete to develop the most innovative and affordable solution. This €1 million prize will be split into a maximum of three awards: € 800,000 will go to the winner and € 100,000 each to the first and second runner-ups.

The Food Scanner is the third ICT-based prize in the EU's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

To win, innovators must devise a solution which analyses food composition and presents in a seamless way nutrition facts and potentially harmful ingredients: calories, food ingredients, nutrients, and allergens. The tool should also provide meaningful feedback to the user in relation to his or her condition and/or lifestyle. In launching this competition, the Commission aims to help prevent food-related health problems such as food allergies, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and allow citizens to make informed choices about their food intake in a quick, affordable and non-invasive manner.

Total freedom to reach the target

The contest is open to any legal entity, including individuals, or group of legal entities established in an EU Member State or in a country associated to Horizon 2020. The Prize will be awarded to whoever can most effectively meet the award criteria and offer a real breakthrough solution. It leaves the applicants - established scientist, company in the field or an innovative start-up -  total freedom to use their creative thinking and find the best way to reach the target. The award criteria require the final solution to be inter-alia affordable, quick and easy-to-use.

The rules of contest are now available online. Contestants will be able to submit their entries from 09/09/2015 until 09/03/2016. The assessment of entries will be carried out by an independent expert panel. The award decision is expected in autumn 2016.

Why would somebody buy a Food Scanner?

Do people really know what they eat? Or how many calories their food intake accounts for? How often do they really take the time to read the labels? And what happens when there are no labels?

Food is a matter of great importance to people. This is primarily because of health reasons: about 17 million Europeans suffer from food allergies, with 3.5 million of them less than 25 years of age. In 2014,the World Health Organisation estimated that 39% of adults were overweight and 13% were obese. By 2030 the number of Europeans affected by diabetes is expected to increase to 43 million in comparison to the 35 million adults in 2011 (source International Diabetes Federation); in Europe cardiovascular diseases causes 46 times the number of deaths and 11 times the disease burden caused by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

Healthier or better measured food intake will help reduce these numbers substantially and improve the health status of millions of Europeans and world citizens.

In addition, people pay more and more attention to their wellbeing, search for information and advice to keep in good physical shape and want to have a healthier lifestyle. A food scanner, which people simply point at their food to have all the information they need to make truly informed choices, could be part of this trend.

The Food Scanner is one of the five Horizon Prizes which are being launched in 2015.

To know more and get involved follow #foodscanner and #HorizonPrize on Twitter, join several interested professionals on the dedicated LinkedIn group and visit the prize website.

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