What was your motivation for supporting and promoting the FoodSeed program? How do you believe this initiative can contribute to innovation and the growth and development of the food industry?
The University of Verona engages within a highly competitive context in the agri-food system, offering expertise of excellence in the fields of biotechnology, artificial intelligence, engineering of production processes, and market research. The FoodSeed initiative is integrated into the network of collaborations that the university maintains with the entrepreneurial fabric, particularly concerning applied research and technology transfer, synergizing with the activities of the INEST innovation ecosystem, in which UNIVR coordinates the “Smart Agrifood” Spoke. The program is effectively an Open Innovation initiative, thus opening significant opportunities for access to innovation for Italian agri-food companies, enabling them to capitalize on growth and competitiveness.
What challenges do you think emerging startups in the Italian agri-food industry need to face now?
Emerging challenges are definitely represented by:
- Product innovation with a focus on environmental sustainability, ethics, and food safety;
- Process innovations aimed at accelerating the adoption of a circular economy approach;
- Digitization aimed at enhancing the transparency of information transfer to and from the market.
What are the main opportunities you identify for startups in the food innovation field?
The primary global challenge is represented by sustainable food production alongside the conservation of natural resources for future generations.
This is tied to various factors: the world’s growing population and increasing demands for food security; imbalances between geographic areas and macro-regions with contrasting food issues (food shortages and excesses); the rising focus on well-being as well as service quality, especially in developed countries; the necessity of ensuring quality throughout the supply chain. The operational domains for implementing innovation are extensive, thus presenting equally vast opportunities for the integration and initiation of new businesses for startups.
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