Driving STEM-led innovation to address society’s greatest challenges 

It is estimated that one-third of all food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted. Food loss is the decrease in the quantity or quality of food resulting from decisions and actions by food suppliers in the supply chain, excluding retailers, food service providers and consumers. Food waste refers to the decrease in the quantity or quality of food resulting from decisions and actions by retailers, food service providers and consumers (SOFA, 2019). 

Food loss and waste represent massive systemic inefficiency. This inefficiency contributes to many significant national and global issues such as land degradation, declining soil fertility, unsustainable water use, overfishing, food insecurity, malnutrition, inequality and GHG emissions. 

The SFI Food Challenge seeks applications from interdisciplinary teams proposing novel, potentially disruptive, sustainable STEM-led solutions to reduce food loss and waste across the full breadth of the food supply chain from “farm to fork”. 

Under this challenge, applications are sought from teams proposing to develop cutting-edge and disruptive technologies in a range of areas. Areas for consideration could include: 

  • Sustainable, low-waste production in marine, land and non-soil systems 
  • Supply chain innovations to minimise food loss 
  • Creation of circular bioeconomic opportunities from food waste 
  • Functional foods (fortified, enriched or enhanced foods) that provide health benefits beyond the provision of essential nutrients (e.g., vitamins and minerals) 

Under the partnership between the Department of Foreign Affairs and SFI, teams may apply to this challenge that are focused on delivering impact in countries where Ireland’s official development assistance is directed. Specific information is available on the SFI-DFA Partnership here.