The competition focuses on sustainable solutions in the area of food waste and plastics and WIT has reached the shortlist of the last 5 teams involved
Leading researchers in the Department of Science at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) have been shortlisted in the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Future Innovator Prize Programme under the SFI Food Challenge.
The challenge-based prize programme 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.
Innovative waste solutions
Five teams have been shortlisted under the SFI Food Challenge and ten under the SFI Plastics Challenge. At the end of the 12-month programme, two overall winners will be announced, with a prize fund of €2 million each to develop innovative solutions to food waste and plastics. The SFI Food Challenge will support the development of sustainable solutions to reduce food loss and waste across the full breadth of the food supply chain.
Dr Ultan McCarthy, Department of Science at WIT is Principal Investigator of team "Eye-Q", other team members include Dr Anastasia Ktenioudaki of University College Dublin and Dr Jean-Pierre Emond of The Illuminate Group LLC, USA. Their challenge involves enhancing the global supply chain efficiency by developing a disruptive cyber-physical platform that combines optical sensing and artificial intelligence technologies to accurately predict food spoilage and remaining shelf-life.
The aim of the project is to forecast premature spoilage of fruit and vegetables in global supply chains and reduce waste. The team wishes to specifically address the 2 of the 17 challenges set out by the United Nations under their Sustainable Development Goals.
WIT is delighted to have this novel research project supported by SFI. Congratulating the research team on their success, Dr Mark White, Vice President of Research, Innovation and Graduate studies at WIT outlined how "It is essential that novel research ideas, such as Dr McCarthy's team have proposed, continue to be supported and conducted in Ireland through innovative, societal programmes such as SFI's recent Future Innovator challenge around Food and Plastics. Research projects such as these have a strong and tangible impact in our region and this particular novel research proposal has the potential to grow into a very significant research project worth €2 million. This fund allows our researchers to reach key industries and stakeholders in an innovative way and enables the research outcomes and impact to be disseminated widely with real impact in real market conditions".
The SFI Future Innovator Prize, funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Science through Science Foundation Ireland, is part of an overall government plan to cultivate challenge-based funding in Ireland.