agROBOfood is dedicated to accelerating the digital transformation of the European agri-food sector through the adoption of robotic technologies. There are many excellent organisations working in agri-food robotics across Europe, and many of them are gathered into this agROBOfood consortium. Some have roots in agriculture or food and are moving into robotics, others are experts in robots and want to apply these robots in agri-food. The agROBOfood project will establish a network of robotics Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) in the agri-food domain, each bringing their own ecosystem of Competence Centres (CCs). By connecting these actors with their different strengths, each will contribute to an overall service offer providing a more joined-up set of automation options for food producers and wider markets for technology providers. This network will work together to foster robotics deployment in agri-food, improve the automation service offer across Europe and support SMEs and mid-caps developing new robotics products for agri-food. DIHs offer their unique experiences and expertise and also serve as examples for each other, sharing knowledge and best practice and supporting each other in supplying the best possible service to customers.
It will consolidate, extend and strengthen the current ecosystem by establishing a sustainable network of DIHs. This will boost the uptake of robotic solutions by the agri-food sector: a huge challenge requiring an inclusive approach involving all relevant European players. The agROBOfood consortium has 39 partners, led by Wageningen University & Research and other core partners of previous key projects such as IoF2020, ROBOTT-NET, PicknPack and I4MS, to leverage the ecosystem that was established in those projects. The heart of the project is formed by Innovation Experiments (IEs), organized and monitored by the DIHs. In each of the 7 Regional Clusters, an initial IE will demonstrate the robotics innovations in agri-food in a manner that ensures replicability across Europe, wide adoption and sustainability of the DIHs network. agROBOfood will work in lockstep with the European robotics community, ensuring synergetic effects with initiatives such as EU-Robotics. This will maximize the return of European, including private capital, investments in the digital transformation of agri-food. A key instrument to achieve this objective is the Industrial Advisory Board. They will provide strategic guidance and also define priorities for the selection of solutions to be funded. Open Calls of 8MEUR will attract additional Innovation Experiments (12) and Industrial Challenges (8). These will expand the network and ensure that vast technological developments and emerging challenges of the agri-food sector are incorporated in the service portfolio of DIHs. Through its inclusive structure and ambitious targets, agROBOfood aims to bring the entire European ecosystem together; connecting the dots in a way that ensures effective adoption of robotics technologies in the European agri-food sector.
The overall work plan of agROBOfood relies on 7 (seven) interrelated work packages. WP1 focuses on mapping and managing the network of Competence Centers (CCs) and shaping/channelling technological support. WP2 foresees the preparation of tailor-made business models in order to secure the long-term financial sustainability of agROBOfood network. WP3 maximises the agROBOfood’s impact by building and engaging a broad ecosystem of stakeholders, while carefully conducting interactive communication activities. WP4 monitors, supports and guides both types of Innovation Experiments, towards achieving their technological objectives and broader impact. WP5 coordinates all the activities related to the open calls and industrial challenges and monitors the administrative implementation of contracts with Open Call beneficiaries. WP6 provides the basis for the establishment of sustainable network of DIHs, addressing all major operational, organizational and expansion challenges. WP7 is based on a light-weight management structure that considers the project’s complexity as well as enables flexibility and explicitly includes feedback mechanisms to allow adaptation and optimisation of the technological and business approach.
The overall objective of the agROBOfood project is to establish and expand a network of mature, agri-food robotics DIHs to make the European agri-food sector more efficient and competitive. To achieve this agROBOfood provides a sustainable ecosystem of agri-food and robotics stakeholders.
This overall aim will be achieved by accomplishing the following specific objectives:
- Create a network of DIHs which offer a complete service portfolio to companies at close distance. A web portal is used as a location-independent doorway and gives each DIH access to both the local facility
and the entire network of robotics agri-food hubs, covering all key European regions. The one-stop shop will provide access to technological, business and brokerage services
- Support industry’s digitization and robotization through: 1. showing end users how robots can help them and promoting their deployment and use, 2. supporting smaller organizations developing new robot products through technical, business and educational support and 3. Contributing to common system platforms and industry-led standards.
- Demonstrate the value of agri-food robotics applications by 1. advertising how a system can be tailored to unique agri-food business needs, 2. let end users build up hands-on experience by participating in highly-innovative cross-border experiments, 3. show the added value of DIH services.
- Stimulate growth of the eco-system by attracting and fostering new DIHs/CCs in the network, collaborating within the broader ecosystem, engaging end users across the value chain, and by stimulating business growth.
- Ensure the long-term sustainability of the agROBOfood network, through developing business models that generate sufficient income to safeguard the network’s viability after project completion.
Hazel Williams, TSSG
Website: https://agrobofood.euEuropean Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme