Agri-food smart specialisation event

  • agri-food
  • international

Working together towards future proof food systems

Passionate about creating resilient and sustainable food systems? So are we and apparently, so were our guests at Gateway to Europe: agri-food edition, the international networking event where the future of the agri-food industry was outlined.

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During our two-day event, participants reflected on the challenges facing future proof local food systems where better environment, entrepreneurship, food and health go hand in hand.

We summed up some key takeaways for you:

Keynote Dr. S. Lodens from the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, gave a digital tour of their multi-purpose pilot facility for process development and illustrated how collaboration and scaling-up can benefit multiple parties. The usage of shared pilot facilities enables stakeholders to bridge the gap between available research sources and commercialization resources through risk sharing and reduction.

Keynote Nele Lauwers from Boerenbond, project partner EFUA in the H2020 project, aims to unlock urban agriculture through better networking, better knowledge, better deployment and better policies in the fields. How? By creating the UA platform, a web based interface which aims to increase stakeholder participation and dialogue around Europe and bridge knowledge gaps.

It became abundantly clear that collaboration and cooperation between stakeholders is always key.

Keynote Louise Krogh Johnson, business development manager at FBCD and dissemination manager in the ZeroW project, pointed out that about 20% of the food produced in the EU goes to waste. The ZeroW project directly addresses the challenge of food loss and waste by developing and testing a mix of innovations in real life conditions with the aim to deliver ambitious reductions at all stages of the food value chain from post-harvest to consumption. With multiple living labs tackling different problems and testing different solutions, products and services, data-driven near-zero FLW smart applications are created to offer long-term solutions.

Keynote Ine Petry also talked about living labs and how they enable sustainable food systems in the city region. In CITIES2030, the goal is to connect cities and regions, consumers, industry partners, civil society, research institutions and encourage active participation of all stakeholders within the city region system. Participants want to integrate research and innovation processes in real life communities and settings.

No doubt that living labs are platforms for lifelong learning.

Keynote Karsten Wilhelm and David Volk talked about energy and material flows in rooftop greenhouses. Through an innovative and multidisciplinary approach they hope to reduce CO2 in the building and agricultural sectors by combining energy exchange and local food production. They wield rooftop greenhouses as useful equipment for reuse resources, to collect CO2 and increase food resilience in urban areas. Their ultimate goal? To create green cities.

Keynote Prof. Dr. Leo Marcelis, Chair Horticulture & Product Physiology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, talked about the SKY HIGH project, where they want to optimize yield, resource use efficiency an product quality in vertical farms. They created concepts for design and control of a vertical farm which guarantee quality & quantity of production of fresh vegetables, every day of the year. With substantial better taste, aroma, appearance, shelf life and nutritional value, no usage of pesticides or nutrient emission, less energy use per unit product, at least twenty fold less land use and only 2-4 liter water use per kg vegetable, it seems they are developing the holy grail roadmap to vertical farming.

Want to know more? Check out the powerpoints of our renowned keynote speakers:

Want to work together within the EFRO and Horizon Europe programs? Contact us with your questions or ideas:

Have you any reflections or feedback on this event? Send them to

Agri-food is part of the DNA of West-Flanders, its entrepreneurs and its knowledge institutes. We are keen to stay in touch with you and to connect with you in future project development at regional and European level.