EPRSC £1mill grant to develop ‘Internet of Food Things’
31 Jul 2018
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded a £1.14 million grant to develop an ‘Internet of Food Things’ that will enable the sector to harness digital advances.
The Internet of Food Things Network Plus will investigate how artificial intelligence, data analytics and emerging technologies can enhance the digitalisation of the UK food supply chain.
Led by the University of Lincoln in partnership with the universities of Southampton, Surrey, East Anglia, and the Open University, it will examine the application of the IoT in connected homes of the future.
But its focus will also have implications for the process industries too. The project examines how smart refrigerators can trigger grocery orders, food traceability and how AI can extract value from data available across the whole food supply chain, to boost efficiency and reduce food waste.
It has never been more vital that we find ways to work more efficiently, saving money for producers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.
Professor Simon Pearson, director, Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology (LIAT)
Professor Simon Pearson, director of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology (LIAT) at the University of Lincoln, said: “The food supply chain from farm to consumer generates £112 billion GVA (gross value added) per year and employs 3.9 million people, but it is operating against a backdrop of an increasingly competitive environment. It has never been more vital that we find ways to work more efficiently, saving money for producers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.
“There are some other stark figures relating to the sector which makes this network and its goals even more vital: each year there are around a million cases of food poisoning every year costing £1.5bn; food generates up to 30% of the UK’s road freight; and 10 million tons of food is wasted each year, generating 20 million tons of CO2 of greenhouse gas emissions. We want to examine how we can improve these issues, which impact us socially and environmentally.”
Besides interdisciplinary contributions from food science and technology practitioners, policy-makers, engineers, management specialists and colleagues in social and behavioural sciences, he said, the inclusion of food retailers including Tesco within the consortium “provides access to unrivalled data sets demonstrating behaviours”.
In addition to supermarket chain Tesco, participants include Siemens, IMS Evolve, the rural agricultural consultancy Collison and Associates, and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. Regulators such as the Food Standards Agency and international barcodes agency GS1 will be involved alongside consumer bodies.