TSSG had a big win in the Horizon 2020 call entitled FOOD 2030 – Empowering cities as agents of food system transformation (ID: CE-FNR-07-2020), which falls under the umbrella of H2020-FNR-2020: Food and Natural Resources. The submission of the proposal took place in January, 2020, against fierce competition from 20 large-scale proposals submitted to the call.
CITIES2030, which stands for Co-creating resilient and sustainable food systems towards FOOD2030, is a 12 million euros project with a 48-month duration. The Innovation Action (IA) project is coordinated by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice with 41 partners in total, comprised of the best academics, researchers, industry, entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, cities and all agents of the Urban food systems and ecosystems (UFSE).
CITIES2030 is a cross-sector and multi-stakeholder effort across about 15 cities and regions to implement sustainable cities and regions food systems (CRFS) and achieve five specific objectives, including:
- Secure healthy and sustainable food;
- Stop food poverty and insecurity;
- Protect and preserve natural resources;
- Enhance circularity and local food belts;
- Develop food culture and skills.
The main goal of CITIES2030 is to create a future proof and effective UFSE via a connected structure centred on the citizens, built on trust, with partners encompassing the entire UFSE.
CITIES2030 commits to work towards the transformation and restructuring of the way systems produce, transport, supply, recycle and reuse food in the 21st century. CITIES2030 vision is to connect short food supply chains, gathering cities and regions, consumers, strategic and complement industry partners, the civil society, promising start-ups and enterprises, innovators and visionary thinkers, leading universities and research across the vast diversity of disciplines addressing UFSE, including food science, social science and big data. CITIES2030 actively encourages the participation of citizens by delivering a trusted UFSE, so consumers move from being passive recipients to active engagement and motivated change agents. This objective is achieved via multiple tools delivered by CITIES2030 such as the City Region Food Systems (CRFS) Alliance, a community of practice engaged in reinforcing rural – urban linkages for resilient food systems, supported by a digital platform, and reaching all over Europe and beyond.
This approach will enable policy developments, innovation actions within result-driven Labs, and enhancements with a pan-European scope with a global reach. Cities and regions will improve resilience and sustainability, and their leadership will create short food supply chain and ecosystems enabling local investments, trans-borders and transnational deployment. A blockchain-based data-driven UFSE management platform will secure intelligence and coordination actions by delivering an accurate, almost real-time digital twin of the whole supply chain, e.g. from production to waste management, but also with key enablers of resilience and sustainability.
The proposal earned very high marks, scoring a 5 in both the Excellence and Impact categories and a 4 in the implementation category, for a total 14 out of the maximum 15 points.
The team member responsible for bringing CITIES2030 into the WIT-TSSG portfolio, Hazel Williams, Senior Strategic Business Partner in Agriculture for WIT-TSSG, states that “Being a partner in CITIES2020 strategically places WIT-TSSG and Ireland as a leading research and innovation player alongside other key actors across the fields of smart agriculture and food security and production across Europe and beyond. This large-scale project win is complementary with our ongoing work in a range of activities including: Coordinator of DEMETER (H2020 project), Regional Cluster Lead for Ireland and the UK in Smart Agri Hubs (H2020 project), Regional Cluster Lead in AgROBOFood (H2020 project), partner in the AgriDISCRETE (a Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, Ireland), Coordinator of the Precision Agricultural Centre of Excellence (PACE), a WIT-TSSG led Digital Innovation Hub, and partner in VistaMilk (Science Foundation Ireland and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine project in Ireland).”
Another of the WIT-TSSG team that worked on the CITIES2030 proposal, James Clarke, EU Strategy Liaison Manager, said, “CITIES2030 is not only well in-line with our Smart Agriculture and Food related projects and initiatives, it is importantly also cross-cutting with our work in Next Generation Internet (NGI) technologies and solutions for a human – centric internet, cybersecurity, trust and privacy. For example, WIT-TSSG is leading a work package in CITIES2030 on the use of blockchain technologies in the design and development of the main components and technological tools to establish a data-driven cities and region-based food system management platform for secure and trustworthy data collection, analysis and representation in multiple interfaces.”
Kevin Doolin, Director of Innovation at TSSG and project coordinator of the DEMETER project, welcomed the news on the successful CITIES2030 project, stating, “the awarding of this large-scale project at the final stages of the H2020 programme puts WIT-TSSG and the whole of Ireland in an excellent leading position in the important topics of Smart Agriculture and Food 2030, as we move rapidly towards the start of the Horizon Europe programme (HEP). The skills and experiences gained in this exciting project will certainly be highly relevant and bootstrapping for us into the future Research & Innovation (R&I) opportunities in HEP. In addition, as this four-year project will be overlapping with the first years of HEP, the strides and developments gained in CITIES2030 will be used to foster and seed the exciting developments that will be taken up in the next phase of R&I in Europe, and beyond. Therefore, being in this position within CITIE2030 at this timely moment will make WIT-TSSG and Ireland well positioned in the driving seat in the forthcoming Horizon Europe programme,” concluded Mr. Doolin.
Other team members working on the winning CITIES2030 project with Hazel, James and Kevin included Paul Malone, Researcher involved in the Machine learning for Early Lameness Detection (MELD) and Digitalisation in agriculture and forestry through data security (AgriDISCRETE) projects, Dixon Vimalajeewa, Postdoctoral Researcher in the SFI VistaMilk Platform project, and Bernard Butler, Senior Research Fellow and Acting Research Unit Manager of Emerging Network Labs (ENL).