«... All of us, as food consumers, worry about health, packaging and safety matters.
The I-CON project stands out to put together food SMEs needs and solution providers, enhancing their own potentials along the food value chain.
I-CON is about linking cross-sectoral competences in design, mechatronics and labelling to food processing, in order to
increase SMEs competitiveness and above all to create a sustainable socio-economic multiplier effect.
More than 200 SMEs analyzed by the partners, more than 30 good practices and solutions identified, more than 20 funding opportunities on food sector innovation collected, thanks to an effective international cooperation.
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Main project achievements
I-CON, in line with Programme’s specific Objectives, enables the improvement of skills and entrepreneurial competences for advancing economic and social innovation in central European regions in particular in Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Slovakia. The whole project logic is about 2 main themes – Transnational Food Mentor Scheme (TFMS) and Crowddesign Platform (CDP). The evolution for both was about in-field survey of status quo (which are agri-food small and medium sized enterprises’ (SMEs) needs e.g. lack of knowledge to improve their businesses/innovativeness), to develop a strategy and action plan, on how to approach these topics and the needed steps.
Among the best achievements I-CON counts 18 trained facilitators in 3 topics identified as major needs by SMEs (mechatronics, food safety and labeling and package design), developed on-line tool (Atlas mapping tool) that serves as a match-making place for solution providers, SMEs with needs, where listed facilitators help to provide SMEs appropriate international solution providers and/or even try to find funding opportunities in various countries. To put in practice, I-CON implemented both themes in pilot projects. At TFMS I-CON transnational pool of experts, together with regional facilitators addressed SMEs, performed 71 (planed 50) specific on-site audits and developed 31 (among the 15 planned) distinct recommendations with ad-hoc solutions for selected SMEs. Finally, with the help of facilitators, I-CON involved almost 200 (191) actors in CDP platform and, above project targets, set indicators and managed 13 CDP cases for few companies.
Main project results and benefits
The main findings can be summarized as following: 71 audit, 31 pilots in TFMS implemented, 191 actors involved in CD platform (issue of raising awareness and testing of platform usability for agri-food(AF) SMEs). 4 Knowledge partners’ regions (Italy, Austria, Germany, Hungary) transferred knowledge to 5 “regional” partners’ regions (SMEs), through thematic and communication/dissemination workshops we addressed 829 participants, project partners participated at 27 joint events creating new connections among local/regional/national stakeholders (19/53/93), industry sector players like Large enterprises (143) or most targeted SMSs (1135) , sectoral agencies (50), actors in Higher Education and R&D (254) and last but not least Business Support Organizations (123). I-CON Partners involved 1870 actors, and new "sustainable" links among them were created. Among I-CON partnership some activities are ongoing in new joint efforts, based on I-CON project and that are related to Digital transition of agri-food sector towards “connected factories” – here we have already complementary H2020 projects with cascade funding for introduction of robotics in manufacturing companies (to reach agile production). 3 documents are of most importance for national/regional staholders, e.g. policy level actors – these are Sustainability strategy for both topics (TFMS and CDP) and Policy recommendations document. If first two focus on technical backgrounds and experiences done in project, 3rd one “projects” or gives directives in which direction supporting policies shall develop in order to make KTT more accessible for agri-food SMEs and thus to make this (usually) remote areas more competitive and attractive.
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POMURJE TECHNOLOGY PARK - SLOVENIA
Pomurje Technology Park is a regional technology transfer intermediate, start-up and innovation centre covering cross-sectors of Food, Metal and polymer industry, Mechatronics, ICT, Creative industry.
PTP has extensive experience in EU projects.
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BUSINESS UPPER AUSTRIA
The Mechatronics Cluster (MC), a department of Business Upper Austria, is a cross-industry network of 320 companies in the branches of mechanical engineering and plant-building, including apparatus and equipment manufacturing, technology component supply, R&D and the special field of agro-mechatronics.
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CNA REGIONAL ASSOCIATION
OF EMILIA ROMAGNA ITALY
CNA Emilia Romagna has a long experience in supporting and implementing innovation in SMEs and the handicraft sector by acting as an intermediary between the supply of research output and small enterprises’demand, through specific actions.
Visit our web site: www.cnaemiliaromagna.it
UNISEF - INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION SERVICE & TRAINING OF TREVISO AND PORDENONE - ITALY
UNISEFlab is the Training and Service Unit of Unindustria Treviso and Pordenone, a leading organization in Veneto. Since its foundation, food industry and industrial design have been the focus of its activities.
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HOHENHEIM UNIVERSITY GERMANY
University of Hohenheim is one of Germany's top-tier universities with world-class research and modern teaching principles. University is also a member of Euroleague for Life Sciences quality network of European universities.
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POLISH CHAMBER OF FOOD INDUSTRY AND PACKAGING – POLAND
Polish Chamber of Food Industry and Packaging brings together companies involved in food production and its distribution as well as companies working for food industry what makes it a multidisciplinary organization.
Project I-CON has 10 partners from 7 central European countries.