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30 November 2020 | Münster

S2BMRC was honoured to host the kick-off meeting as the lead partner of the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership Project "PIFS - Pioneering Innovative Food for Seniors". The PIFS project is an international collaborative effort of six European partners, including Münster University of Applied Sciences (Germany), University of Nottingham (United Kingdom), Ageing Social Lab (Spain), Momentum (Ireland), Lithuanian Innovation Centre (Lithuania), and European E-learning Institute (Denmark).

Given the ageing population in Europe, the proportion of elderly over 65 years old will increase to 30% by 2060. Accordingly, there is an increasing need for the development of nutrient-enriched food and provision of wider health food options for senior citizens. However, the slow-growing food sector results in a lack of innovative commercialisation of food products for seniors. Moreover, there is a pressing need to strengthen the interactions and knowledge exchange between academia and food business and to boost research and skills development for food innovation.

In response to these challenges, the two-year, transformative consortium aims to create lasting impacts for food businesses, particularly small-and-medium enterprises which have limited access to product innovation training, vocational education trainers, and policymakers in food industry. The PIFS project aims to: (1) introduce innovative methods to enhance critical innovation and entrepreneurial skills to help food companies capitalize on the niche market opportunity for new food products and services within the "Silver Economy"; (2) provide trainings to support food vocational education trainers (e.g. colleges, food hubs and incubators… etc.) in developing their business and empowering senior consumers with wider food choices; and (3) equip food and enterprise policymakers with new strategies that boost economic growth and skills training in a way that contributes to healthier elderly communities.

The consortium will deliver four intellectual outputs, namely: a Good Practice Guide highlighting the drivers and enablers for innovation of food for seniors, an Innovation Readiness Self-Assessment Tool to allow companies assess their innovation readiness and identify a personalised learning path, followed by the Open Education Resources for food sector trainers, and an Online Education Platform for food producers to facilitate the development of innovative food for seniors.

At the kick-off meeting co-led by Anna Haasler and Choiwai Maggie Chak (S2BMRC), all partners (i.e., University of Nottingham, Ageing Social Lab, Momentum, Lithuanian Innovation Centre, and European E-learning Institute) contributed to the productive discussions on the intended project impacts, collaboration arrangements, project structure for implementation, as well as the establishment of detailed work plans for activities regarding the four intellectual outputs.

During the next two years, the PIFS consortium will further strengthen the bonds between food sector and academia by improving the knowledge exchange and raising the awareness in relation to food innovation for seniors. It will also develop the open source educational guidelines, resources, and tools, as well as an E-learning platform to cultivate the innovation readiness and promote skills development regarding innovating food for seniors in the European food sector.

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