Summary and objectives
According to EC, food is one of the biggest sectors in terms of jobs and added value in Europe, contributing positively to the economical balance of the EU (30 billion). Despite this, the sector is facing some challenges that could affect negatively the sector competitiveness and growth in a short future. Also advanced packaging is on the top 10 fastest growing fields in Europe, according to the report from the European Commission “European Cluster Panorama”, wrote by Dr. Christian Kettels, from Harvard Business School and President of the TCI Network.
Moreover, also according to the same report, Catalonia region (two of the 5 clusters of this project are from there) is the second region in terms of the highest number of fastest growing new companies and connect and promote exchanges between gazelle companies and cluster members, it opens new opportunities for SMEs.
The competitiveness of the sector in Europe is decreasing compared to the situation of other economical regions; especially in terms of added value. The EC has identified that behind the decreasing of competitiveness there is a lack of transparency in the supply chain, sub-optimal B2B relationships and lack of attractiveness for skilled workers. In addition, in the last years, the sector has received a higher pressure from society and governments to guarantee healthy food along the different supply and value-chains, to reduce the impact on environment through the development of eco-friendly products and services, green materials, sustainable packaging, etc.
In this context, it is urgent to produce high quality, healthy and safe food ensuring full compliance with circular economy legislation and offering sustainable and smart services and products considering the needs of the end-consumers, promoting the added value of the sector and strengthen their competitiveness and growth. The project SAFE SMART FOOD aims to address these challenges contributing to implement the European legislation and measures and creating the conditions of a favorable ecosystem in the food and packaging sector to boost innovation, competitiveness and internationalization of SMEs and the accomplishment of the Regional Smart Specialization Strategies.
Clusters have to be the drivers of this ecosystem. They play an important role in the process to overcome these challenges, providing excellent services to SMEs, involving a wide range of stakeholders and facilitating the conditions to create an ecosystem that facilitates SMEs competitiveness, innovation, internationalization and growth. But in order to become real drives of this process clusters must have the capacity to create economies of scale, to enhance the cooperation with other sectoral clusters, to involve main sectoral actors (public and private) becoming their main reference, and offer services based on excellence that really address the needs of SMEs. In this sense, Clusters have to strengthen and improve their management and professional competencies and skills to be capable to transform the challenges of the sector into innovation and business and investment opportunities, optimizing their resources and expanding their area of actuation from regional level to European and international level.
SAFE SMART FOOD project will contribute to strengthen and build clusters capacities to make possible that they became the real drivers of this change, facilitating the process of Cluster towards Excellence. More specifically, clusters will train in depth how to improve cluster governance and management, cluster entrepreneurship, shared value ecosystems between the cluster members and between the clusters themselves and communication and branding. Thanks to SAVE SMART FOOD project, clusters will analyze - in a comparative and cross-sectorial perspective - the needs of SME and stakeholders including end-consumers, not only to offer excellence and quality services to their SME’s members but also to reshape their cluster’ strategies to address the challenges that food and packaging sector is facing in Europe. This analysis will be concreted in the development of a common strategy for the next 5 years to work together to contribute to the creation of this favorable ecosystem for the growth and competitiveness of the sector. The SAFE SMART FOOD project focuses on seven challenges that will be addressed along the different project activities:
- Last Mile
- Food Tech
- Smart Food
- Food Safety
- Smart Packaging
- End user
The project aims to strengthen the collaboration between clusters and improve their management capacity to create the conditions of a favourable ecosystem in the food and packaging sector to boost innovation, competitiveness and internationalization of SMEs and to offer to the cluster’s SMEs an integrated program of services based on excellence.