Last autumn, 7 new organisations joined the project as FIT4FOOD2030 Food Labs. We check in with them to see what issues motivated them to join the project and the latest developments in their cities and regions.



Food Lab Azores

The Food Lab Azores is hosted by the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT), a public agency of the Regional Government of the Azores, with strong involvement from the Regional Network of Science Centres (RECCA), whose first year of implementation is hosted by its member, the Azorean Environmental Observatorium /Angra do Heroísmo Science Center.

Due to its insular and outermost character, the Azores region needs to find research and innovation solutions to specific challenges facing their food system, to ensure its sustainability for the future. Examples of these challenges are climate change, natural resource depletion, soil erosion and productive ecosystem fragmentation, water issues, lack of room and environmental sound choices for waste disposal, strong food and economic dependence from mainland, circular economy but also food waste. The Food Lab Azores promotes widespread awareness and participation, as well as dialogue and joint action for innovative solutions meeting this need.

FIT4FOOD2030: How does the year ahead look like for your Food Lab?

Food Lab Azores: We are planning smaller events throughout the year, culminating with a larger weekend ‘fair’ that brings together researchers, nutritionists, organic producers, business stakeholders, food bloggers, representatives of local sustainable and innovative projects and citizens on World Food Day. Its key aim is to address food system sustainability opportunities in light of the Azores local and regional realities. Expect workshops, informal discussions, food demonstrations, activities for people of all ages!

Watch a local TV report (in Portuguese) about hands-on activities for reducing food waste and seasonal ingredients on World Food Day 2019.

Food Lab Aarhus

The Department of Food Science and iFOOD Centre for Innovative Food Research at Aarhus University, together with the City of Aarhus, Agro Food Park and the Region Midt, are working on fostering the connection with local communities on the key issue of getting food systems ready for the future through Research and Innovation as Food Lab Aarhus.

Their focus is on fostering understanding of the links between food and well-being, and how foods can deliver functionality beyond simple nutrition. A recently established network called NFORM has received funding to focus on new sustainable food solutions that will contribute to maintaining the physical and mental health and well-being of the individuals, preventing or improving chronic conditions, at any stage of life by developing new partnerships. Becoming a Food Lab is a way of supporting this initiative by building competences for an enhanced Responsible Research and Innovation approach in the local food community, for future product development that maximises citizens’ inputs and answers societal needs. Read more on the website of iFOOD Centre for Innovative Food Research.

FIT4FOOD2030: What is next for your Food Lab?

Food Lab Aarhus:  Two workshops with citizens and consumer organisations as well as relevant industry actors to explore people’s mandate for change towards food system transformation will take place this spring. We will also be bringing the FOOD2030 perspective and incorporating a FIT4FOOD2030 competence-building module during our new summer school on “Entrepreneurship for food product and innovation” later this year.

Food Lab Birmingham

Birmingham’s science museum Thinktank has joined FIT4FOOD2030 to bring the issues tackled by the Food 2030 vision on Nutrition, Climate, Circularity and Innovation, and its impact on Birmingham’s food relationships in the future to their diverse audiences. As a Food Lab they will  involve local communities – some of whom are in areas of high deprivation – with engaging and relevant food science that will start conversations and feed in to positive changes that the Birmingham City Council is working on.

FIT4FOOD2030: What’s next for your Food Lab?

Food Lab Birmingham: We are currently preparing an environmental weekend in March 2020. This will be a chance to carry out dialogues with citizens in Birmingham and experiment with the FIT4FOOD2030 educational modules, in the inspiring presence of different researchers working on issues facing our food systems. We will also be inviting our colleagues at Healthy Futures to come in and launch a new food survey for Birmingham citizens.

Food Lab Dublin

Developing an ecosystem that will survive modern societal challenges through strong engagement of citizens and stakeholders is at the heart of the Food Lab Dublin. University College Dublin is partnering with other organisations based in Dublin in order to facilitate the delivery of FIT4FOOD2030’s vision and a framework to “Fostering Integration and Transformation for Food 2030”. Key partners working to deliver workshops and outreach activities via the Food Lab include Science Gallery Dublin, Teagasc, Dublin City University (DCU), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Technical University Dublin (TU Dublin) and the Dublin City Council.

FIT4FOOD2030: What’s coming ahead for your Food Lab?

Food Lab Dublin: We’re working on a “Food Systems” pop-up exhibition and related workshops – to take place from the 26th to the 28th of June in Science Gallery Dublin. We aim to engage citizens and key stakeholders.

Food Lab Graz

FIT4FOOD2030 activities in Graz are carried out by the Responsible Research and Innovation Unit within IFZ (Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture). This private, non-profit research institute has already piloted a ‘transition experiment’, guiding a group of local actors from the quadruple helix, in elaborating project ideas for a more sustainable and socially just food system in the city of Graz. The Food Lab represents a chance to build on this work, in line with the Food 2030 objectives.

FIT4FOOD2030: What’s next for your Food Lab?

Food Lab Graz: Our next Food Lab activities will be implemented in the city district Triester in close cooperation with the local community centre, which supports the sustainable development of the district in order to increase the quality of life for its residents.

We have chosen this district, because it is not one of the privileged city areas, where you have easy access to fresh and healthy food. The percentage of socially disadvantaged inhabitants and residents with migration backgrounds is quite high, and daily life is characterised by conflicts between ethnic groups as well as between generations. Food related activities organised by the community centre so far, such as urban gardening and food sharing initiatives, proved to be useful vehicles also for societal integration. Consequently, we will pay particular attention to a strongly integrated approach for the planned activities.

We will carry out a series of “The food system and us” workshops with local residents. Starting with “The journey of my breakfast”, we aim to stimulate reflections on food consumption behaviours. The outcomes will then be put into the context of the current supply situation in the district in order to identify shortcomings in regard to a) what people like to consume, and b) what would be healthy and sustainable consumption. The next step will be to involve local residents in developing concrete ideas on how to improve the current status quo. On the other hand, we also plan to engage local decision makers and experts in a system mapping workshop in order to explore the causes of shortcomings in the city district Triester from policy and various expert and disciplinary perspectives.

Food Lab Trentino

A dedicated taskforce within the Fondazione Edmund Mach has been mobilising stakeholders around the Food 2030 policy framework since the autumn of 2019. Their goal is to promote synergies and alignment between initiatives for greater mutual benefit between actions taken at the EU and local levels. Read more about the aims of the Food Lab in the online daily of the Autonomous Province of Trento (link in Italian).

FIT4FOOD2030: What issues motivated you to become a FIT4FOOD2030 Lab?

Food Lab Trentino: Fondazione Edmund Mach is located in the Italian Alps. Despite its rural, mountainous location, we have strong connections at interregional level and have developed cooperative approaches to counterbalance this fragmentation, mobilising local food system actors and promoting synergies. Tourism and agriculture are the main domains influencing local resources – and being influenced in turn by global dynamics and macrotrends such as climate change. We noticed in the last years that both the economics and the organisational side of the agri-food system are in transition. The business sector – based on a few large private companies and a majority of cooperative enterprises – has been forced to adapt its business models in order to remain nationally and internationally competitive. At the micro-scale, farmers are ageing and generational renovation is not sufficient; the adoption of “new farming” both in marginal and urban territories of Trentino is increasing in relevance. The Food Lab Trentino brings forward this perspective to the Food 2030 Platform. Being a FIT4FOOD2030 Food Lab is giving us the opportunity to launch a series of reflections with Trentino agri-food systems stakeholders and reflect with them on whether the ongoing efforts in the local Research & Innovation ecosystem are addressing, and working in synergy, with the transformative visions of key players in European food systems.

On 13 February 2020, almost 60 participants representing associations, companies, cooperatives, consumers, young students active in climate change initiative (such as Fridays for Future), non-governmental organisations, other municipalities and local government actors, gathered around the table for a constructive dialogue on how Research & Innovation in Trentino can contribute to future-proofing our food systems. Ongoing initiatives were placed in the spotlight and the discussion highlighted the importance of having in place an institutional architecture that promotes innovative processes, particularly the dissemination of knowledge and innovation. The cooperative system of Trentino could be a starting point and should be reinforced by a strong commitment to training, in direct contact with farmers and consumers. The workshop was well received and there is strong enthusiasm to build on its outcomes in future meetings and through place-based initiatives.

Food Lab Vilnius

The Food Lab Vilnius is hosted by the Institute of Social Innovations (SII), an independent non‐profit organisation which seeks to provide new answers to the challenges of the modern society, as well as new responses to social and economic problems. Their motivation in joining the project lies in the local need to improve food‐related support: increasing visibility of food system problems and awareness and dialogue among society at large. They are particularly interested in finding new insights on innovative ways to communicate healthy diets, the key behavioural and environmental factors influencing diets, and which systemic interventions could be effective in promoting healthy diets among the general public.

FIT4FOOD2030: What’s next for your Food Lab?

Food Lab Vilnius: FIT4FOOD2030 activities will kick off in Vilnius this spring! We are going to start with a citizen mandate workshop dedicated to making everyone curious about how to make the food system more sustainable and future-proof. Our second event will be dedicated to discussing the specific features of the food system. We will invite journalists and professionals in the food system to open a dialogue and share their experience in issues concerning food systems both in Lithuania and the wider world.