The centre will function as an innovation hub for food industry, scientific community and technology providers. Photo/cc: Nikita Kachanovsky/Unsplash

DigiFoods will through new sensor systems radically transform food production industry into a more efficient and sustainable industry. Based on in-line food quality measures, DigiFoods will enable optimisation and control of processes and value chains. Optimal usage of raw material will have a profound impact on reduction of food loss and waste as well optimal usage of raw materials. The strong focus on coupling information from farm/boat to consumer will allow the industry to directly satisfy consumer demands. New food sensors and analytical technology will give internationally competitive Norwegian technology companies. The centre aims to increase digital competence in Norway through the education of masters and PhD candidates. The centre will function as an innovation hub for food industry, scientific community and technology providers. Development of new in-line sensors can lead to growth for the small players and more opportunities in the global marked for all the industry partners.

In DigiFoods we will see innovation and value creation at different levels:

Food process level

Due to the complexity of food processes, there is a lack of robust and reliable in-line quality measurements for process control. DigiFoods will research and develop tailor-made process control tools that will contribute to optimal utilization of raw materials and secure stable end-quality. All the food processing companies in the centre need such tools to increase their value creation. Apparently small adjustments and improvements in process can give significant earnings since the product volumes are huge.

Technology level

Sensors: The technology companies are eager to develop smart sensor solutions for the food industry. They are already working with food companies and have a clear strategy to target the sensor needs in the food industry, nationally and internationally, since the demand for process control is growing. DigiFoods will develop and test novel sensor systems that can enable the next generation of online measurements of critical quality features, and this will increase their probability of commercial success.

Process Analytics: Centre partners develop software for true time process analysis based on smart sensor inputs and will use DigiFoods as a valuable environment to evaluate and develop software for the global market.

Robotics: Foods can be extremely complex and heterogeneous, and precise interaction between the sensor and the sample could vastly improve the performance of the sensors. Robotics can be used to operate sensors in processes, for automatic sampling and sample preparation. Robotics can be used to replace spot checks with continuous in-line measurements in fish, meat and dairy processing and is therefore a potent field of innovation for Saga Robotics and Robot Norge. Saga Robotics has already developed a versatile platform within agro-field-robotics and aims to further develop this in DigiFoods, while Robot Norge targets applications in food processing lines.

Food system level

DigiFoods will facilitate large-scale collection, structuring and analysis of food quality data. Completely new innovations will be possible at process and value chain level by utilizing this information in a bigger perspective. It can be linked to farm data, to get new insight that can be used to improve farming practises and the farm-industry interaction. This is especially valuable for food companies that control the chain from primary production to market. The quality information can also be used to reduce food waste by targeted product development, marketing and increased consumer trust, or it can be shared or sold to interested parties in the food system. All food companies in the centre seek to realize such innovations.