The ETP ‘Food for Life’ Vision for 2020 and beyond, launched in Brussels in July 2005, identified the need for an effective integration of strategically-focused, trans-national, concerted research in the nutritional, food and consumer sciences and food chain management. Later that year, in December 2005, the ETP ‘Food for Life’ became fully operational after the establishment of the Board, Operational Committee and 7 Working Groups with representation of all stakeholders across Europe
The first Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) was published in September 2007 after extensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders through face-to-face meetings across Europe and via web-based activities. This SRA focused on the scientific and technological research requirements initiated by WGs on Food and Health, Food Quality and Manufacturing, Food and Consumer, Food Safety, Sustainable Food Production and Food Chain Management. An additional Working Group developed an outline for needs in Communication, Training and Technology Transfer, while the Horizontal Activities Working Group focused, amongst other issues, on optimising internal and external contacts and cooperation.
The Implementation Action Plan (IAP) of the SRA followed in October 2008, identifying three Key Thrusts focused on enabling the market to develop products, tools and services that would:
- Improve health, well-being and longevity;
- Build consumer trust in the food chain; and
- Support sustainable and ethical production.
This IAP also identified impediments to progress, such as the lack of sufficient investment in, and co-ordination of R&D activities. The science necessary to underpin the sector requires inputs from several fields, including social, biological, physical, medical and ICT sciences. In few EU countries was this broad skill-base effectively co-ordinated and there was insufficient EU funding to help catalyse such co-ordination. Moreover, there was the additional challenge of effectively translating the outputs of this science and technology to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
In November 2012 the ETP ´Food for Life´ published its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), integrating innovation into the concept of the SRA launched in 2007. Policy developments in the European Commission, such as the publication of the EU 2020 Flagship Initiatives and the establishment of the Innovation Union, encouraged the ETP ‘Food for Life’ decided to produce an updated document reflecting such developments. The SRIA outlined several main goals, such as:
- Identifying and prioritising the research needs of Europe’s food industry;
- Coordinating research in the food sector across Europe; and
- Encouraging the participation of SMEs in research activities through specific programmes and networks.
Two years later, in December 2014, the ETP ‘Food for Life’ launched the Implementation Plan under Horizon 2020 of this SRIA.
Triggered by the current EU Research and Innovation framework, the ETP ‘Food for Life’ has undergone in 2015 a rejuvenation process in order to ensure a better alignment with Horizon 2020 and other relevant Research Programmes and a leading role for the food and drink industry towards Horizon 2020 and the Juncker plan.
Under the guidance of its new Leadership Team, chaired by Prof. Dr. Gert W. Meijer, the ETP ‘Food for Life’ looks forward to an effective dialogue with policymakers at EU and national level, other players of the European Research Area, partners of the Agri-Food Chain and other related stakeholders in order to ensure that the interests of consumers are fully addressed in the future.