DigiFABS KICK-OFF meeting in Germany

The DigiFABS Digital Change Agents for Food and Beverage SMEs Project Launched.

Fostering digital, resilience and innovation skills in F&B SMEs

George, the Director and Maria, the Project Manager, recently traveled to Münster, Germany, for the first meeting of the DigiFaBs project consortium. ECECT is responsible for ensuring the project’s sustainability not only during the three-year duration but also beyond its conclusion. During the meeting, George presented the project’s goals, key activities, and milestones, adding an interactive touch with Mentimeter questions.

The DigiFaBs Digital Change Agents for Food and Beverage SMEs project launched on February 19th 2024 with a two-day event in Münster, Germany. The project is funded by the EU Erasmus Partnerships for Innovation Alliances and is co-ordinated by Dominik Lappenküper and his team in FH Münster University of Applied Skills, Germany.  The project brings together a multidisciplined consortium of five Higher Education Institutions, two Vocational Training Institutions, four SMEs, a Regional Public body, a Social Partner and an NGO, all working to help bring advancement to the EU food and beverage sector which is the largest manufacturing sector in the EU making a major contribution to the EU economy.

Over the next three years, DigiFaBs partners will work to foster digital, resilience, and innovation skills to optimise the management of digital transformation in food and beverage Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. The DigiFaBs programme shall deliver an innovative programme that serves transdisciplinary students, educators as well as businesses (especially SMEs) collectively. Moreover, it will transfer principles of digital transformation as well as sectoral knowledge to foster needed digital skills and green skills as well as personal, social, and methodological skills and resilience, much needed in this fast-changing sector.

The project will enable all involved stakeholders, including the consortium members, to develop strategies to better respond to business and societal needs, design engagement performance monitoring tools, and foster innovation networks for local and regional cooperation. The project will also lead to new and enhanced university-industry relationships across Europe, access to advanced digital transformation learning, new pedagogical approaches, and kick-starting the creation of new educational experiences on digital agriculture and food production in the different participating regions. Finally, the establishment of a European Network of DigiFABS Hub that will continue after the completion of the DigiFaBs project is another ambition of the consortium

The consortium of 14 partners represents 7 European regions with diverse digitalisation competencies and high involvement in the F&B sector. In addition, the HEI partners will engage 100 students from three disciplines and 10+ scientists from Engineering / IT, Agriculture / Nutrition and Business fields and the business network organisations will engage 15+ SMEs from the sector to pilot the course programme including:

(1) a multidisciplinary action learning, ‘DigiFaBs’ summer school and challenge for students to acquire the digital, green and resilience skills boththeoretically and practically so that they may become changemakers themselves and

(2) Piloting of bootcamps for educators and F&B SMEs to facilitate a DigiFaBs challenge in their region. The final materials will be made publicly available including introductory MOOCs.

At the launch event, participants from across the consortium examined and validated the project’s goals, methodology and activities.  Each of the nine Work Package teams shared their specific research and innovation objectives, strategies and the outcomes that will emerge. Partners also put the spotlight on Project Management, Communications, and the setting up of the Governance framework for the project. 

Dynamic presentations and lively discussions helped to build relationships and support collaboration between the partners as they now embark on this project together.  The kick-off meeting welcomed representatives from the lead partner FH Munster University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Consorci de la Ribera (Spain), Stichting Hogeschool van Amsterdam (The Netherlands), UIIN (The Netherlands), Slovenska Polnohospodarska Univerzita V Nitre (Slovakia), NUIM (Ireland), Univewersytet Szczecinski (Poland), Momentum (Ireland), Bia Innovator Campus (Ireland), WestMBH (Germany), Preneurz (The Netherlands), Federation Of Associations Of Scientifically Technical Notes Council Of The Zachodniopomorski Region In Szczecin (Poland), New EDU Co ( Slovakia ), ECECT (Cyprus).

Watch out for the launch of the project website in the coming weeks.