Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), Lithuania has been granted the right to coordinate European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Food Hub, which will promote innovations and entrepreneurship in the food science field. EIT Food Hub together with SMART Food cluster, uniting Lithuanian food industry exporters, is planning to expand its activities beyond Lithuania.
According to KTU Vice-Rector for Research and Innovations Professor Asta Pundzienė, the University’s becoming the coordinator of the regional EIT Food Hub is an important event for Lithuania, demonstrating KTU’s regional leadership in the food science field.
“The EIT’s trust in our knowledge, experience and competence in developing and commercialising innovations is one more great step towards promoting our name and competitiveness internationally. Becoming a regional hub for the EIT Food community, which unites such universities as Cambridge or KU Leuven, and such companies as Bosch, John Deere, Nestle Research and others, will be very beneficial both for KTU and for Lithuania”, says Pundzienė.
EIT Food is a pan-European consortium that focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation in the food sector. The members of the EIT Food community are world-class players in the international food domain: over 50 partners from leading businesses, research centres and universities across 13 countries. In the beginning of this year, EIT Food has announced the competition for selecting 11 organisations, which would assume the roles of EIT Food Hubs in 11 countries. KTU has become one of the winners of the competition.
“Any of 28 European countries would like to host an EIT Food Hub; Lithuania becoming one of the 11 selected is a great achievement, which will definitely encourage the food and beverage industry’s closer cooperation with science, development of new innovative products and smart enterprises, and increasing internationalisation. Of course, this also means great responsibility to ground this commitment with real achievements”, says Giedrius Bagušinskas, director of SMART Food Cluster at Lithuanian Food Exporters Association.
Mindaugas Bulota, Head of KTU National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre emphasises that the KTU’s right to establish the regional EIT Food Hub will definitely advance research commercialisation processes, will facilitate investment attraction and will promote the image of Lithuania as a country of innovations.
“By becoming a coordinator of EIT Food Hub we are concentrating knowledge and skills connected to food science innovations. KTU became a recognised regional leader in food science research and research commercialisation area; thus we gained the privilege to expand our initiatives outside the University, on national, regional, international levels. The wide EIT Food community network will help us find partners, investors and new markets”, says Bulota.
He emphasises that mentorship, entrepreneurship promotion events and trainings for startups comprise only a small part of EIT Food Hub assistance available for those willing to turn innovative ideas into products or services. The innovative businessmen, industry professionals will be also invited to take part in seminars, to use consulting services, to participate in the events for general society.
“Being a hub of this scale means including the whole value chain: EIT Food Hub is a part of the system, which provides all possible assistance – from consultations, research and clients to investments. For example, if a certain market is interesting to a Lithuanian business operating in food industry, we will assist in finding an accelerator in that market without moving the company from Lithuania. And if, for example, an Austrian company will need a diary specialist, we will facilitate contacting and further cooperation”, explains Bulota.
According to him, every business consists of 10% of idea and 90% of hard work, and the functioning hub will help to make this 90% less challenging.
KTU is an active member of one more EIT project – EIT Health Hub, which is being coordinated by Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. The main objective of the EIT Health community representative in Lithuania is to coordinate and manage the health field innovations.