On October 9-10, 2020 Innovacoop, the Legacoop Emilia Romagna company dedicated to the development and innovation of local businesses, Future Food Institute, and Bi-Rex Competence Center, one of the 8 national competence centers set up by the Ministry of Economic Development in the Industry 4.0 government plan, have organized Hack4Food | To Feed the Future, an online innovation marathon created to respond to the challenges of the Emilia-Romagna agri-food sector in the wake of the COVID-19 health emergency.
The coronavirus has in fact deeply affected the agrifood sector of the entire region, which has not only faced problems related to the catering sector, but also in agricultural production and the entire management of food resources. Precisely for this reason the digital hackathon was launched by the three partners with the support of Legacoop Bologna, Clust-ER Agrifood and Think4Food and the contribution of the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna with the objective of facing three different challenges: guaranteeing efficiency, transparency, traceability of agri-food chains for safe and quality foods; prevent waste in the agri-food chain; managing food surpluses for the benefit of the most fragile sections of the population.
During the 2 days marathon, the participants of the initiative have responded to these problems divided into 10 different groups made of university students, researchers, startuppers, digital technology experts and agrifood operators, who worked on projects and innovative prototypes always based on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.
The top 3 projects evaluated by the jury consists of:
- Bounce (3rd place) – an idea based on the meeting between potential sellers and buyers for the purchase of marginal agricultural products, on the excess stock or imperfect but quality products in one convenient transaction that aims to avoid waste to be economically sustainable in the agri-food market.
- Food2U (2nd place) – a web and mobile app which guarantees effective management of food surpluses to offer support to vulnerable groups by creating a direct link between traders, especially those who work in urban markets, and Third Sector Entities.
- SquisEat (1st place) – a digital marketplace we help large companies to sell food surpluses due to constraints or inefficient warehouses (especially in the Covid period), offering them at advantageous prices to the Horeca sector, transforming disposal taxes and waste into profit.
The SquisEat team will be granted an economic contribution of 5,000 euros for the development of the project presented, with the possibility of also participating in acceleration and matchmaking activities and initiatives launched by the partners to encourage the subsequent adoption of innovative solutions in the Emilia-Romagna food system. All of the winning projects will also take part in one of the events launched by Future Food Institute in the following months.
Hack4Food | To Feed the Future was the only project to be selected by the open call on the restart of the agrifood sector in the period of COVID-19 launched by Smart Agri Hubs, the network consisting of 164 Digital Innovation Hubs and Competence Centers with the aim of accelerating the digitization of agricultural systems in Europe. The initiative has been funded in the Horizon 2020 framework, the European Commission program that supports and promotes research and innovation projects throughout the Union.