Future Food Innovation is an innovation environment aimed at strengthening innovation power and ensuring an internationally competitive food industry in the Central Denmark region. Through this initiative, businesses are able to receive support through financially supported projects as well as courses, workshops, and innovation camps addressing competencies. These activities are conducted while at the same time working for more cooperation between businesses and knowledge institutions to further promote innovation and the development of new technologies and solutions.
Within Denmark and the Central Denmark region in particular, there is no shortage of knowledge institutions and partners active in the food industry. However, there was a need to create easier access to this wealth of knowledge and better connect the knowledge institutions with companies in order to promote innovation in this sector as well as promoting growth, both in terms of businesses generated as well as in terms of human resources and jobs. Future Food Innovation therefore focuses on promoting and improving cooperation and collaboration in this sector.
The Future Food Innovation initiative is able to support businesses in their search for knowledge and know-how by bringing together seven Danish knowledge institutions, a university and a food cluster. Through the expertise within this consortium, Future Food Innovation is able to assist companies in increasing their overall capacities and supporting them financially through different schemes. Financial support is granted to companies through three schemes, Proof of Principle projects, Diversification projects and Growth projects. Parallel to these financial support schemes, Future Food Innovation is able to provide consultancy services to companies in several different areas such as the selection and description of the challenges to be addressed and in uncovering opportunities for academic support.
Behind Future Food Innovation is a consortium made up of the Agro Business Park, the Department of Food Science and MAPP Centre at Aarhus University, VIFU, Technological Institute, the Danish Food Cluster and finally, Business Development Centre Central Denmark. Together they carry out the services provided to businesses. The project is financed by the Central Denmark region, which has allocated 2.8 million EUR to Future Food Innovation, matched by 4 million EUR from the European Regional Development Fund as well as company and knowledge institution co-financing of 4.3 million EUR and 0.5 million EUR respectively. Much of the budgets are reserved for the different support schemes, with the Proof of Principle projects aimed at the validation of innovative ideas, while Diversification projects focus on supporting businesses towards the prototyping stage of innovations. Finally, Growth projects support the growth path of businesses, focusing on the preparation of a growth plan with a 360-degree perspective of the company with particular focus on internationalisation, digitalisation and automation.
The Results and Benefits
So far, Future Food Innovation has been in contact with over 400 SMEs and has received over 120 submitted project proposals. Of these proposals, 55 will be funded and are expected to generate 20 new innovative SMEs as well as increase the number of jobs by 20% in 20 SMEs between two and five years after the end of the Future Food Innovation project.