Food Innovation in Lithuania – two-part event at Kaunas University of Technology on September 19 2019

(Read Article in Lithuanian)

 

Huge potential, exiting ideas, aspiration for collaboration while implementing innovation activities – that perfectly describes the food sector companies that came together on September 19th to participate at Food Innovation in Lithuania – Toolbox seminar at Kaunas University of Technology, associated partner in SBFOODINNO. The event attracted 60 regional participants, in fact including 26 different food companies.

 

Food Innovation Council (FIC) Meeting

Representatives from the local & regional food sector and innovation actors got together for knowledge sharing and network build up. Event attracted such stakeholders as: Kaunas University of Technology, Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA), Institute of horticulture, Laboratory of Biochemistry and Technology at Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry, Enterprise Lithuania, Kaunas Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Crafts, Lithuanian Food Exporters Association – LitMEA/SMART Food cluster, Lithuanian Innovation Center, Ministry of the Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania, National Food Cluster, Rietavas Tourism and Business Information Centre and Telsiai county business incubator.

Project partners from Lund University and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences were in change of this part together with leading partner University College Absalon, Denmark. SBFOODINNO Project Manager Michael Christiansen presented project, results and a conception. Later on Håkan Jönsson from Lund University presented generalized Food Innovation Policy in South Baltic regions: Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Poland and Lithuania.

The participants were also invited to a general discussion on Food Innovation Policy and its actors in Lithuania: what challenges and enablers exist, how innovation stakeholders interact with each other and what is needed to be changed or redesigned to make their interaction better and more efficient in the context of innovation implementation.

The Food Innovation Stakeholders Landscape in Lithuania. Participants in groups tried out a new model tool, developed in the project by PM Michael Christiansen, which enables different stakeholder perspectives to be described and visualized.

 

 

Food Innovation in Lithuania – Toolbox seminar

In the afternoon, regional companies in the food sector participated in the Food Innovation in Lithuania – Toolbox seminar together with cluster and other institutions representatives from the first part. First of all, Giedrius Bagusinskas, the coordinator of SMART food cluster, presented Lithuanian food SME experience in export and future tendencies. Nevertheless, he also shared his knowledge and tips & tricks on how to get started export and what are the costs.

 

Later, Visvaldas Varzinskas, who is a head of the Packaging Innovation and Research Center at Kaunas University of technology, talked about packaging innovation through the prism of efficiency, price and sustainability.

The third joint presentation was held by Ruta Gilaitiene, Head of Innovation at Ruta Confectionery factory and Vaide Sakalauskiene, representative from MITA, National Food Cluster coordinator. They presented CASESTORY Confectionery factory RUTA: “Innovative food creation in collaboration with research institutions”.

 

Innovative dessert from Samogitia (one of the five ethnographic regions of Lithuania)

During the seminar breaks, Garbiele Mekioniene, head of Satrija legenda from Luoke (Telsiai district), served participants with wonderful vegan desserts.

And this is no coincidence, since plant proteins are at the center of project activities, as one of the inspirations for companies about potential business and innovation opportunities. Worth mentioning, that the main project partners from Denmark, Sweden and Germany are not only carrying out their own field trials of vegetable protein crops, such as lupine and rapeseed, but also actively involve local producers, gastronomists and entrepreneurs. Thereby SBFOODINNO rapidly is expanding stakeholders’ network, which is being shared through the project activities.

After the break, Project Manager Michael Christiansen introduced participants to the Toolbox’s online version, its usability including tools and web sections.

After that, Boel Sandskär from Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences divided the participants into five groups for CANVAS model workshop. The essence of this model is to look at own company from a different angle, present it to other companies and institutions, discuss the obstacles and opportunities, get ideas on how other companies are solving similar problems, maybe even find new cooperation partners.

The program includes presentations of speakers, additional information from Enterprise Lithuania and Lithuanian Food Exporters Association – LitMEA, as well as a list of seminar participants for further collaborations. Go to the page.

 

Network breaks and Network Lounge – informal forum for dialogs

Finally, after the seminar, participants were invited to a Network Lounge session for intersectoral dialogues, inspirations and discussions on innovation in food packaging, product development, export and collaboration. As it was an event on food innovation within also sharing knowledge, contacts and information, participants also had the opportunity to bring info brochures and samples.

The participants agreed, that this type of event, which attracts not only business but also representatives of various institutions, clusters, ministries, universities is not frequent in Lithuania but is very welcome and needed. Only in this way can activities and partners be mobilized within open discussions. The project team hopes that many dialogues which have been established during this a kind of forum-platform will turn into concrete projects and that cross-sectoral cooperation will help SME find answers and remove obstacles.


In addition to RUTA, Marijos Trobele (Pjauk gryba) has also served its product during Network lounge. Project team found apple cheese very interesting and invited director Mindaugas Balciunas for further cooperation in the project in the nearest project events in Brussels and Lithuania.

 

Lithuanian food innovations. Yes, they are tangible and very interesting!

Who will argue that these are not examples of innovation: Vilko Kombucha – fermented probiotic tea, Natures drops – birch sap of various flavors, SPILA and GERA KARMA – functional food (spirulina, chlorella, Triphala, etc.), ZALI ZALI – sprouts of various cultures and so on…

Lithuanian food companies probably do not even realize how promising and innovative they are. After having some conversations it turned out that it is quite doubtful whether company is innovative at all. And really, innovation can be understood in different ways: product, process, organizational or marketing innovations, packaging, global trend, food serving combinations and so on. Some SME are already advanced in innovation implementation, some has just started out and some are just going to.

”What is the taste of Lithuanian food innovation?“

This question was answered by a SBFOODINNO project team firstly, at Food Innovation Concepts from smaller regions of the South Baltic area exhibition pitch on October 7-10 in Brussels. And straight from there at the fair “Made in Lithuania” on October 11-13 in Kaunas, where over 80 food sector producers out of more than 250 in total will present themselves in this year’s exhibition, making the event a diverse experience that will also include new product tasting and innovations.

The project team was presenting SBFOODINNO project concept, activities, results as well innovative Lithuanian food sector companies, such as Innofoods AVOO, Urban Food, GERA KARMA, Ekofrisa, Ekoproduktas, Healthy Choice and recently joined RUTA, Satrijos legenda, Kontena and Marijos Trobele (Pjauk gryba) and their innovative products/ activities also best practices for innovation in the food sector.

In extension to this, currently there are more events planned in the project, where representatives of the Lithuanian food sector and innovation policy stakeholders will be invited. An upcoming event will take place in Malmö, Sweden at Nordic Organic Food Fair 13-14 November, where among others a delegation of Lithuanian companies and clusters will be invited for interregional dialogues, dissemination of knowledge and inspiration.