Multi-million investment in Swedish centres for food research and innovation

2020-11-23

Foto: iStock fcafotodigital

The Formas Research Council provides funding for four centres for sustainability and competitiveness in the food system. The aim is to contribute to development and innovation and to build knowledge and skills throughout the food chain through close collaboration among researchers, the business sector and other stakeholders in society. This investment allocates 192 million kronor to four centres and a large number of associated participating parties across Sweden.

How can Sweden become a leading supplier of sustainably produced aquatic food? What role do animals play in increased, sustainable and profitable food production in Sweden’s different regions? How can the food system transform at all stages, from innovation management to customer behaviour awareness? And how can Sweden develop plant-based proteins with health benefits that will be the customer’s first choice? These are some of the questions that the new research centres seek answers to.

“With this investment, we get a fine portfolio of centres that have great potential to boost the sustainability and competitiveness of the Swedish food system in multiple areas and from different perspectives, which is vital,” says Jessica Ekström, senior research officer at Formas. “Among the parties involved in the initiative, we see both large and small Swedish companies, as well as trade associations, municipalities and regions,” she says.

The four centres awarded funding in the call Centers for sustainable and competitive food-systemsexternal link operate through university–industry partnerships. Their main offices will be located in Örebro, Stockholm, Uppsala and Borås, but their fields will span all of Sweden.

“Long-term research and innovation efforts, collective expertise and co-creation among actors with different perspectives are needed to help transform the food system,” says Erika Ax, senior research officer at Formas. “We believe that in the short and long terms these centres will strengthen food systems at both the local and the national level. They also have global potential, and we look forward to following their development in the future.”

“I’m thrilled that we have been able to implement this call within the national food programme,” says Formas’ Director General Ingrid Peterson. “Strong food security is a concern for society as a whole, as is climate-smart food production. This creates opportunities for long-term knowledge building and skills provision in the food chain. I hope that food is a priority area in the forthcoming research bill so that we can continue to build knowledge throughout the food system.”

Granted centres


BLUE FOOD - Centre for the seafood of the future

  • Principal applying organisation: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm
  • Contact person: Fredrik Gröndahl
  • Budget (SEK): 48 000 000
  • Participating partners: Gothenburg University, Chalmers University of Technology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala University, RISE Research institute of Sweden, Innovatum, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Orkla, Region Västra Götaland, Region Stockholm


Plant-based proteins for health and wellbeing (PAN Sweden)

  • Principal applying organisation: Örebro University
  • Contact person: Robert Brummer
  • Budget (SEK): 47 942 322
  • Participating partners: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology, RISE Research institute of Sweden, Uppsala University, Swedish Food Federation, Max Hamburgare, Orkla, Örebro kommun, Region Örebro, Lantmännen, Lyckeby, Many Ways, Biogaia, GE Healthcare, ICA, Coor


Food Innovation Enabling Sustainable Transition - FINEST

  • Principal applying organisation: RISE Research institute of Sweden, Borås
  • Contact person: Annette Granéli
  • Budget (SEK): 47 996 020
  • Participating partners: Chalmers University of Technology, Uppsala University, Region Västerbotten, Umeå kommun, Federation of Swedish Farmers LRF, Swedish Food Federation, Hushållningssällskapet, Mycorena, Lantmännen, Solina-Sweden, IKEA Food Service, Lyckeby Culinar, Skira, Axfoundation, Boofood, Foodhills AB, ICA


SustAinimal - a collaborative research centre exploring the future role of livestock in sustainable and competitive Swedish food production systems

  • Principal applying organisation: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala
  • Contact person: Sigrid Agenäs
  • Budget (SEK): 47 999 996
  • Participating partners: RISE Research institute of Sweden, National Veterinary Institute SVA, Uppsala University, Linköping University, Dalarna University, Lantmännen, Federation of Swedish Farmers LRF, Hushållningssällskapet, Norrmejerier, KLS Ugglarps, Agroväst, Vreta Kluster, Växa Sverige, Gård & Djurhälsan, Föreningen Svenskt Naturbeteskött, Svenska Vallföreningen

The call Centers for sustainable and competitive food-systemsexternal link aims to create strong interdisciplinary research centres in collaboration with the business sector. Their main tasks are:

  • Conduct needs-driven research of the highest scientific quality
  • Meet the business needs for new knowledge to achieve the transformation
  • Close the gap between research and practice
  • Pave the way for innovation

Applicants were asked to address one or more themes from the agenda Towards a sustainable and competitive food systemexternal link, which was developed in partnership with higher education institutions, the business sector, government agencies and other stakeholders within the national research programme on foodexternal link.

Research conducted at the centres should be relevant for achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals in Agenda 2030. The three dimensions of sustainability – ecological, economic and social sustainability – must be taken into account, both for the planned research and for the impact it can make on society.

A consortium could apply for a total of 12 million kronor per year over a four-year period, with a possible extension of a further four years. Co-funding of at least 15% from the business sector was required. A total of 16 applications were received. An international review panel assessed the applications in a multi-stage online process.

Formas’ goal was to fund two to three centres. But the promising, high-quality applications led the Formas Research Council to instead fund four centres in order to leverage the ongoing mobilisation of forces within Swedish food research and the food industry ahead of this call.

Updated:23 November 2020
Page manager: Jessica Ekström