The Centre of Expertise Water Technology (CEW), part of WaterCampus Leeuwarden, started a European project in the food sector called VIDA on 18 May 2018. VIDA stands for Value-added Innovation in fooD chAins. Within this project, a European consortium, led by the CEW, is realizing a dozen innovative, large-scale demonstration projects in Europe. This concerns projects at the intersection of water, energy and food production, which use so-called Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). KETs form the basis for innovation and for a shift towards a greener economy. The project represents an opportunity for hundreds of SME companies to accelerate their innovations in the market with large manufacturers and an opportunity for those manufacturers to accelerate future-proofing.
The current production methods for foodstuffs are insufficiently sustainable and in time lead to a shortage due to the growing world population. There is therefore a need for new developments in the food chain.
Focus on SMEs
The special thing about VIDA is the focus on SME companies. Martijn Bijmans, director of the CEW: “Within VIDA, four selected cross-sectoral network organizations work together, which are complementary to each other and together reach about 2100 SME companies. Innovations from these companies are linked to questions in the field of water and energy from major food producers. It is a unique approach that gives these SMEs the chance to scale up their innovation with a large brand and that also stimulates the application of sustainable innovations in the food industry. The cross-sectoral approach is expected to deliver usable new value chains. ”
“Friesland is originally an important region when it comes to food production. A crucial role in the reform of that industry is therefore perfectly suited to us. VIDA is also good news for employment, also here in the north, “says Sietske Poepjes, deputy province of Fryslân. In executing the VIDA project, CEW works closely with Van Hall Larenstein and NHL Stenden University. Erica Schaper, Chairman of the Executive Board of NHL Stenden: “As a university of applied sciences, we have the ambition to give substance to the valorisation needs of companies. Through our cooperation with the CEW we have been realizing this ambition for many years, but with the VIDA project we are making another big leap forward. ”
More than 80% of the total VIDA budget of 5 million euros will benefit SMEs. The project lasts 3 years and is financed by the European Commission.