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FOODIS – «Cross-border ecosystem for innovation and sustainability in the food sector value chains»

This project, which is co-financed by the European Union through the KP Interreg Italy-Austria 2021-2027, started in December 2023.

Project content

LCA Logistik Center Austria Süd GmbH started a new, innovative EU project in the area of ​​the food value chain at the end of 2023 and wants to counteract food waste and thus generate added value for the region.

In the EU, around 20% of food ends up in trash cans. Converted to people, this means 173 kg wasted per year. In Austria alone, 791,000 tons of avoidable food waste is generated every year, most of it in private households, out-of-home catering and production. In the state of Carinthia, 25 kilograms of food per person ends up in the trash every year. 27 percent of these are still usable fruits and vegetables.

This development must be counteracted. One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is to minimize food waste worldwide. By 2030, it should be halved in the retail and private household sectors. The Italy-Austria Interreg project initiated at the end of 2023 between Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Carinthia therefore aims to make the food systems of both regions more sustainable and resilient. For this purpose and in this cross-border cooperation project, Carinthia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia are pooling their knowledge in the areas of agriculture, IT, logistics, transformation and food security.

The Italy-Austria Interreg project initiated at the end of 2023 between Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Carinthia therefore aims to make the food systems of both regions more sustainable and resilient. For this purpose and in this cross-border cooperation project, Carinthia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia are pooling their knowledge in the areas of agriculture, IT, logistics, transformation and food security.

In order to successfully overcome the challenges of climate change and international crises, the food systems that are strategically important for the program area must be made more resilient and sustainable. That’s why FOODIS wants to develop the capacities to absorb innovations and introduce circular processes in the food sector’s value chains. The project will create a common cross-border ecosystem between FVG and Carinthia (with strategic know-how also being acquired from other regions), which takes into account the proximity of the areas and the unique complementarity of existing skills and infrastructure, and provides companies with knowledge, services and provides opportunities at a cross-border level. These include the mapping of needs and opportunities, the definition of a cross-border network in the field of food and sustainable logistics, two pilot actions with the development of durable solutions, an ecosystem sustainability model and guidelines for policy makers on actions and investments in support of the circular economy.

Project goals

The main objective of FOODIS is to create a collaborative ecosystem between Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Carinthia, able to transfer knowledge and opportunities to the companies of the food value chains, supporting their innovative development and the adoption of circular processes and advanced technologies, thanks the cross-border exchange of complementary know-how, services, skills and logistical structures, optimized and transferable digital solutions. The specific objectives pursued are:

  1. Strengthening the role of qualified intermediaries of the innovation system in cross-border cooperation (represented in the partnership in particular by FAB FVG and LCAS, entities that pursue objectives of general interest and support the growth of regional companies);
  2. Strengthening complementarities and synergies at cross-border level in the area of ​​innovation and advanced logistics by pooling resources on both sides of the border for collaboration and efficiency to develop innovative, circular and responsible food value chains;
  3. Strategically strengthening the innovation capacities of companies in the food chain, favoring the absorption of knowledge and the exploitation of opportunities that have concrete impacts on environmental, economic and social sustainability and accompany the value chains towards circularity, resilience and responsibility, taking into account the specificities of the current competitive scenarios are taken into account;
  4. Developing new business opportunities for cross-border companies in common areas of smart specialization, leveraging the potential of digitalization and the specialized technical skills of partners (food innovation and safety, nutritional quality, circular economy, sustainable logistics, digital tools).

FOODIS creates a cross-border ecosystem between FVG and Carinthia, responding to concrete logics of sustainability, economic benefits and efficiency in the management of flows and exchanges, which require a contiguous territory of appropriate size, but the solutions developed will be applied to other territories be transferable (e.g. state of Salzburg).

The pilot project that the LCAS would like to implement as part of the Interreg project in Carinthia includes, in addition to the digital mapping of the Carinthian agricultural and food value chain, the development of a digital platform that allows the collection of expired food or food that is not considered usable for the market , food waste and surpluses, whose collection transport and storage should be managed intelligently and sustainably. The platform is also intended to show ways in which goods can be upgraded in innovative ways and recycled, for example by creating new products. This is about promoting circular business models (e.g. the conversion of fruit and vegetables into new food products such as fruit and vegetable juices or fruit or vegetable spreads or the production of raw materials for fashion items, such as leather from apple pomace for handbags, etc. ). The aim of the project is to advance the digitalization and optimization of the management of surplus food. This will be done by developing a flexible and expandable digital platform that will facilitate the redistribution of this food.

A third of all food is thrown away on the way from the field to the plate. At the same time, millions of people around the world are suffering from hunger. It is therefore of inestimable importance, indeed necessity, to boost the circular economy in all areas and industries. Economy, innovation, sustainability and at the same time solidarity should be combined within the framework of efficient resource management. In the area of ​​food supply chains, for example, this means that before food is thrown away, other, more sensible alternatives such as reuse and recycling should be explored.

The ultimate plan is to create a reproducible model of a common ecosystem at a cross-border level. The ecosystem is intended to provide support for companies in the agri-food and logistics sectors by systematizing skills and services. For Carinthia, this means that the important regional agricultural and food industry will gain more visibility and new sales opportunities can be created.

Project results

  1. Improving and expanding the range of services offered by cross-border innovation intermediaries to support food value chains;
  2. Consolidate cross-border relations and provide a comprehensive and common system of expertise, business opportunities and support, which also promotes technological and commercial cooperation between both sides of the border;
  3. Accelerating the smart and sustainable transition of the cross-border food sector, ensuring optimal logistical management and valorization of products, waste and surpluses, contributing to achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal and the EU strategy “From Farm 2 Fork;
  4. Introducing new circular, sustainable, competitive, resilient and fair business models by cross-border companies in food supply chains, promoting innovative investments in key areas of smart specialization and opening up new market opportunities, also making the most of the potential of the Trieste-Fürnitz logistics corridor towards Central and Northern Europe .

Project partners

  • Fondazione Agrifood & Bioeconomy FVG (Lead partner)
  • LCA Logistik Center Austria Süd GmbH
  • Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Giuliano Isontina
  • Paris-Lodron-Universität Salzburg
  • WU Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien
  • Insiel S.p.A.

Associated partners

  • Università degli Studi di Udine – Dipartimento di Scienze AgroAlimentari, Ambientali e Animali – DI4A
  • Amt der Kärntner Landesregierung – Abteilung 7 Wirtschaft, Tourismus und Mobilität
  • Regione autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia, Direzione centrale salute, politiche sociali e disabilità
  • Fachhochschule Salzburg GmbH

Project duration

1.12.2023 – 31.1.2026

Project budget

The total costs of the project amount to EUR 905,579.76.

The project is financed with EUR 694,450.23 from EU funds and regional funds.