Call for Solutions - Sustainable Food Systems

Applications are open for the 'Call for Solution - Sustainable food systems' aimed at start-ups and SMEs to co-design innovative solutions to improve the sustainability of food systems in 11 European cities.

The Municipality of Milan, lead partner of the European project Food Trails, and the Italian innovation hub Cariplo Factory, launched the call for start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with the aim of identifying innovative solutions to improve the sustainability of food systems in 11 European cities

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to develop pilot projects within the 11 Living Labs of Food Trails, establishing strategic alliances with one or more cities, collaborating with key stakeholders in the European food system and innovation landscape, and meeting potential investors.

“Through the Food Trails project, the city of Milan has initiated and strengthened collaborations with several European cities to foster the exchange of knowledge and good practices on the theme of food policy in urban areas. In particular, the research and innovation actions on the food system, which are relevant areas for Milan's Food Policy and are carried out together with Fondazione Cariplo and Cariplo Factory, will allow us to engage new start-ups on the theme of sustainability and to enlarge the number of stakeholders involved in the implementation of the Food Policy.”

Anna Scavuzzo, Vice Mayor of the Municipality of Milan.

The four-year (2020-2024) Food Trails project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, brings together a consortium of 19 European partners, including 11 cities, 3 universities and 5 organisations, led by the Municipality of Milan. 

The project aims to support cities in designing, developing and implementing innovative, sustainable and inclusive food policies.
These actions include the “Sustainable Food Systems – Call for Solutions”, through which start-ups and SMEs will be identified in the cities participating in the project such as Bergamo, Birmingham, Bordeaux Metropole, Copenhagen, Funchal, Grenoble-Alpes Metropole, Groningen, Thessaloniki, Tirana and Warsaw. 

“Today, more than ever, it is essential to innovate and renew agrifood supply chains to make them more sustainable and ready for the challenges of the present. This call gives the best start-ups and SMEs in this field the chance to become part of a unique and European project such as the Food Trails project,” explains Carlo Mango, Managing Director of Cariplo Factory. “This project represents a real and concrete opportunity for innovation in the food system and connects Milan to numerous realities on a large scale, thanks to the sharing of ideas between institutions, food system actors and innovative companies."

Carlo Mango, Managing Director of Cariplo Factory

There are seven thematic areas for which start-ups and SMEs can apply to develop innovative solutions and services:

  1. Education and Training Initiatives promoting local training, food education programmes, workshops, cooking courses in schools and public places, using innovative techniques and technologies to generate involvement;
  2. Communication and Involvement Innovative and technological solutions that can involve citizens and students and create communities and networks, with a focus on raising awareness of food waste; 
  3. Reducing Food Waste Projects to support food collection and recovery; logistical solutions for the redistribution of food surpluses; technologies for producer/consumer or producer/restaurant matchmaking and for optimizing processes in small restaurants; solutions to manage, reuse and process food waste; 
  4. Data collection and Monitoring Projects aimed at optimizing and digitizing data collection and management to monitor and evaluate the food supply chain; 
  5. Access to healthy food and production processes Ideas for enabling easier access to healthy food also for vulnerable people and enabling sustainable food processing; 
  6. Urban agriculture and vegetable gardens;
  7. Food packaging Projects on sustainable packaging with innovative and easily recyclable materials.

The application deadline is 16 February 2023.

Afterwards, a technical committee – composed of Cariplo Factory, the Municipality of Milan, the foundation Stichting Wageningen Research and representatives of the
11 Food Trails partner cities – will evaluate and select the best applications.

Those selected at this stage will have the opportunity to participate in the Matchmaking Day to be held in spring 2023. At this major networking event, the selected start-ups and SMEs will have the opportunity to present themselves and their projects to representatives of the Food Trails partner cities, important stakeholders from the European food system and innovation landscape,  as well as potential investors.

Finally, a second phase will identify the finalists who will have the opportunity to develop a pilot project within Food Trails and gain international visibility, becoming part of the most important network of food cities and stakeholders in Europe. 

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