Institute of Technology Tralee-based Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centure (ABC) is to lead a €4m EU-backed project to increase the competitiveness of agri-food SMEs.
The project known as TRADEIT (Traditional Food, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology Transfer) meets the current needs of traditional food SMEs incorporating key elements of European policy recommendations and providing valuable resources to drive innovation.
“Small and traditional food businesses find it difficult to access research and know how to support innovation and to promote their products,” explained Marian Byrne, head of the Food Industry Development Division at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
“TRADEIT aims to kick start knowledge exchange in an accessible and practical way, connecting up small and traditional food businesses in a shared space.”
TRADEIT will support a pan-European network of food producers, research organisations and stakeholders in the traditional agri-food sector. Nine regional TRADEIT hubs are set to deliver an ambitious programme of events and supports, facilitating a collaborative approach to grow the sector.
The food and drink industry is home to Europe’s largest manufacturing sector. Food-producing SMEs, crucially, support economic growth both in production and employment.
The sector is made up of 99.1pc SMEs, 79pc of which are micro-SMEs. In Ireland, there is a greater regional spread than with any other manufacturing sector, with some 1,100 food companies, more than 90pc of which are SMEs.
Traditional food produce represents a significant element of the cultural heritage of each EU member state and critical economic input to many regions, as a growing segment within the EU food market.
Farming image via Shutterstock