Food innovation initiative EIT Food has announced the results of its sustainable aquaculture competition, launching seven new projects and adding 18 new partners to its community.

Made up of a consortium of European industry players, start-ups, research centers, and universities, EIT Food is one of eight innovation communities established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent E.U. body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship.

The aquaculture competition began in December 2020 with the goal of strengthening the innovation portfolio of EIT Food’s 2021-2023 business plan, and to expand its partner community in the aquaculture sector.

A total of 85 organizations from within and outside the EIT Food community participated in the competition, with 32 project proposals submitted for evaluation against their potential impact to fast-track sustainability efforts within the aquaculture sector.

According to EIT Food, the competition’s selected projects will aim to make progress in the following areas:

  • Reducing food loss and waste by extending the shelf-life of seafood products while increasing product safety and quality.
  • Enhancing product quality, fish welfare, and reducing likelihood of disease.
  • Producing high-quality and accessible sustainable feeds.
  • Preserving marine biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • Transforming aquaculture into a circular form of food production.
  • Increasing the resilience and competitiveness of the E.U. aquaculture sector.
  • Strengthening collaboration among stakeholders and addressing skills gaps.

“The European Farm-to-Fork strategy aims to provide healthy and sustainable food systems; this is one of the key objectives of the European Green Deal. I truly believe that aquaculture is a critical part of the solution,” EIT Food Innovation Program Manager Mercedes Groba said. “Our promising innovation projects present a collaborative approach to meet the objectives of the European Green Deal and to transform the aquaculture industry into a sustainable form of food production. This forms part of EIT Food’s wider mission to make our entire food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted.”

The winning projects from the competition were:

  • Sustainable Seafood Processing (SuSeaPro), which will develop novel processing technologies that seek to extend the shelf-life of seafood products – which do not rely on additives or heat treatment – to reduce food loss and waste from farm-to-fork. The project, led by SuSea in the Netherlands, will also improve food safety and enhance consumer perception by reducing the microbial growth of harmful pathogens. 
  • Germany’s Next Tuna will seek to create the first sustainable European source of tuna by reproducing Atlantic bluefin tuna in a land-based, eco-friendly recirculating aquaculture system (RAS).
  • Cewatech of Sweden will develop an aquafeed for salmon that contains protein from recycled wastewater in the starch industry. The project will support the natural defense mechanisms of salmon by supporting their basic biological functions, while preventing disease. The fish feed will be made from a sustainable fungi-based protein to replace the use of fishmeal and soybean meal.
  • The BREEZE project will enable the scaling of sustainably managed fish farms to meet the growing demand for healthy proteins. It aims to bring to market a residue-free prevention and control system for sea lice management, to contribute to increasing resistance to diseases, while increasing awareness of animal welfare and minimizing environmental impact.
  • Aquacultural Global AI Platform for Europe’s Skills Passport (AGAPE) is an AI-based collaborative platform aimed at bringing an innovative model of interaction between stakeholders, and will seek to broaden community on skills, capabilities, and competencies globally and in real time. 
  • Delta Futuro in Italy will develop an optimized sustainable shellfish farming system that aims to guarantee the wellbeing of shellfish juveniles and to ensure food security for consumers. The project’s consortium say it will respond to the lack of high-quality manila clam seed by scaling up hatcheries and improving seed availability for farmers.
  • The Just Add Water project will seek to grow Atlantic salmon in RAS operations throughout the E.U.. The project, led by FishFrom Ltd. in the United Kingdom, will aim to expand and commercialize technology that improves animal welfare and product quality and accommodates many fish species across multiple geographical locations. 

EIT Food said while aquaculture products overall (including imports) represent 25 percent of the E.U.’s consumption of seafood, at present, E.U. aquaculture products account for just 10 percent of that consumption. Through its efforts, it said it aims to help bridge that divide.

Photo courtesy of EIT Food

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