PIFS delivers on the Europe 2020 innovation strategy “with an ageing population and strong competitive pressures from globalisation, Europe’s future economic growth & jobs will increasingly have to come from innovation in products, services & business models. Innovation is the lifeblood of the food industry and is essential to ensure profitability and survival. As adults age, their bodies become less efficient at absorbing & metabolising nutrients. Reduced mobility & dexterity means that it is more troublesome to buy foods or prepare meals while certain foods become more difficult to consume due to changes in oral health. Many older adults experience a loss in appetite & are at risk of nutritional deficiencies.
Thus, our project objective is clear: to initiate a transformative, replicable model of learning that transfers critical innovation & entrepreneurial skills to help VET educators & SMEs respond to these challenges and the increasing demand for new food products/services within the Silver Economy. We will equip VET educators & food SMEs with the innovation skills necessary to capitalise on this niche market opportunity, grow their businesses & empower senior consumers with wider food choices.
Our set of project resources begins with Good Practice Guides for SMEs and VET educators. This is a unique training tool giving a complete view of commercial examples driving the opportunities for food innovation in the Silver Economy in Europe.
Next, we created a self-assessment tool that will provide SMEs with an overview of how prepared their company is to innovate nutrient-suitable food products and services for seniors. This tool is based on a validated Innovation Readiness Framework developed by the project partners. It will assess SMEs’ innovation readiness in four areas (Company, Competitiveness, Customer, Environment). On completion of this self-assessment each SME will receive a personalised report indicating their strengths and areas of improvement. They will also receive personalised training advice on which modules of our E-learning course to follow to allow for improvement.
Designed by food sector specialists, and based on the very latest innovation approaches, the Open Education Resources (OERs) and E-learning course give trainers new content to upskill food SMEs with food innovation knowledge and entrepreneurship skills to introduce nutrient-suitable and segment-specific food products and services to the senior market. Being equipped with this up-to-date knowledge, SMEs will be able to capitalise on this niche market opportunity and start or grow their businesses. Importantly, it will simultaneously empower senior consumers with wider and more appropriate food choices to meet their needs.