University College Dublin Teams Progress to Seed Phase of Food Challenge and Plastics Challenge under SFI Future Innovator Prize Programme
Science Foundation Ireland has today announced the eight (8) teams progressing to the Seed Phase of the Plastics Challenge and the Food Challenge under the SFI Future Innovator Prize Programme, each with a prize fund of €2 million.
University College Dublin (UCD) researchers are leading one of the shortlisted teams and are members of two of the other shortlisted teams.
Dr Ruth Freeman, Director Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland said, “It is a significant achievement to progress this far in the SFI Future Innovator Prize competition. All of these innovative projects align directly with UN sustainable development goals and the teams are working to develop meaningful solutions to global societal issues.”
She added, “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support this important work through our challenge-based funding model. Well done to the eight teams on their success, hard work and dedication. I look forward to following them as they journey through this next phase of the programme.”
The SFI Plastics Challenge supports the development of innovative STEM-led solutions that will enable the sustainable use of plastics in a circular economy.
UCD researchers are leading Plastic Raiders, one of the four teams shortlisted for the seed phase of the plastics challenge.
Plastic Raiders is focusing on the challenge of removing polluting plastics from the coastal marine environment.
If not removed by clean-up operations, macroplastics (>5 mm) may harm many types of marine life through entanglement or ingestion. They also fragment and degrade into microplastics that can be ingested and incorporated in bodies and tissues of many organisms.
Being able to detect larger floating plastics in coastal waters before they become entangled, ingested, exported and/or fragmented, may help to answer key questions about sources, pathways and trends.
The Plastic Raiders project will combine remote sensing technologies and bottom-up citizen science to create sustainable, intergenerational change in polluting and environmental activism behaviours.
The Plastic Raiders team members are, Associate Professor Francesco Pilla, UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, Associate Professor Jennifer Symonds, UCD School of Education and Tim Ferguson, Irish Surfing Association.
Associate Professor Francesco Pilla, UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy said, " As part of Plastic Raiders, we are pioneering an augmented collective intelligence framework where citizens’ deliberation processes are supported with artificial intelligence, technology and educational tools. This will take the fight against plastic pollution to the next level and empower local communities with technological tools and skills to act on plastic pollution in water environments.”
Plastic Raiders is aligned with UN SDG GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.
The SFI Food Challenge supports the development of novel, potentially disruptive, sustainable solutions to reduce food loss and waste across the full breadth of the food supply chain from ‘farm to fork’.
UCD researchers are members of Eye-Q and WAVA, two of the four teams shortlisted for the seed phase of the food challenge.
Eye-Q is focusing on the challenge of reducing premature spoilage of fruit and vegetables in global supply chains.
Premature spoilage due to supply chain inefficiencies is a major cause of commercial food waste and accounts for between 20% and 50% of all fruit and vegetables being lost/wasted. Addressing supply chain inefficiencies is key to addressing food loss/waste and will require a revolutionary transformation of the current commercial supply management systems.
Eye-Q will work with stakeholders to enhance global supply chain efficiency by developing a disruptive cyberphysical platform that combines optical sensing and artificial intelligence (deep learning) technologies to accurately predict food spoilage and remaining shelf-life.
The Eye-Q team members are; Dr Ultan McCarthy, Waterford Institute of Technology, Dr Anastasia Ktenioudaki, UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering and Jean-Pierre Emond, The Illuminate Group LLC.
Dr Anastasia Ktenioudaki, UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering said, “The Eye-Q team is delighted and proud to continue to the Seed Phase of the SFI Future Innovator Prize, Food Challenge. Achieving our aim to reduce loss and waste of fresh produce, requires a revolutionary transformation of the current commercial supply management systems. Eye-Q enables cross chain digitized decision making, offering a potentially disruptive and visionary solution that will enhance global supply chain efficiency and resilience.”
Eye-Q is aligned with UN SDG GOAL 2: Zero Hunger and UN SDG GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
WAVA is focusing on the challenge of valorising food waste into value added commodities.
Food waste valorisation is an important goal of sustainable development. In Ireland, 4.2 million tonnes of food-waste is generated annually with the food-processing sector accounting for 19% of this total producing 36,900 tonnes of fruit and 758,650 tonnes of vegetable waste each year. This food waste represents a valuable untapped source of commercially important compounds (e.g., fatty acids) that can be used for a range of applications.
WAVA is developing a disruptive anaerobic digestion technology that will transform organic food waste, destined for landfill, into nutrient-rich foods, ingredients, clean energy and balanced fertiliser thus providing a unique zero-waste circular bioeconomy solution.
The WAVA team members are; Dr Sushanta Kumar Saha, Limerick Institute of Technology, Dr Ajay Menon, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science and Adam Lord, Food Surplus Management Ltd.
Dr Ajay Menon, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science said, “WAVA is proud to be one of the 4 teams to progress to the Seed Phase of the SFI Future Innovator Prize, Food Challenge. We are excited to have the opportunity to design solutions to convert food waste to value added commodities.''
WAVA is aligned with UN SDG GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
Funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science through SFI, this SFI Future Innovator prize competition is part of an overall Government plan to cultivate challenge-based funding in Ireland and to contribute towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Fifteen teams participated under the Food and Plastics Challenges. Eight teams, four from each challenge, are now progressing to the Seed Phase of these challenges where they will be expected to further validate and prototype their solutions to compete for the overall prize. At the end of the 12-month programme, two overall winners will be announced.
27 April 2021
For further information contact Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, NovaUCD, UCD Research and Innovation, t: + 353 1 716 3712 or e: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SFI Future Innovator Prize is a challenge-based prize funding programme that seeks to support Ireland’s best and brightest unconventional thinkers and innovators to develop novel, potentially disruptive, technologies to address significant societal challenges. The overarching ambition of the SFI Future Innovator Prize is to enable the development of disruptive STEM-based solutions to key national challenges. https://www.sfi.ie/challenges/