Project Details

The ICONSS proposal aims to develop, in the time frame of the project, an integrated solution targeting consumers and food operators. This integrated solution will consist of two modules: the first one, an app that will look at nutritional aspects for vulnerable population groups and allow to assemble a food box from retailers ready to be picked up or for home delivery, to minimize exposure in indoor environments particularly for vulnerable people. The second module, also connected to this unique app, will be a miniaturized device for fast, reliable and easy to use testing of workers and surfaces in order to ensure the safety in food-related environments, with special emphasis on retailer spaces. This miniaturized kit and device will include sampling, a simplified RNA extraction and isothermal amplification and detection, ready to be used on decentralized settings with minimum interaction from users, and giving a simple and easy to read answer.

Our project targets two main groups: consumers and food retailers, both connected through a smartphone application or an internet platform, with two user profiles: consumer and food retailer with different permissions, user access to specific data, resources.

In a nutshell:

  1. On one side, balanced food-boxes will be designed to guide in the proper food selection for a balanced diet and intended for a range of consumers particularly vulnerable such as elderly, pregnant women, kids, diabetics, and people with food allergies or intolerances, adapted and personalized to these collectives, and including ingredients capable of strengthening the immunological defenses. This will be achieved through a dedicated app connected via hub to a centralized system with a virtual window and shelves to guide the consumers in the proper food choice for different eligible time frames (1 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 month). On the retailer site a customized food box will be picked from the shelf, for home delivery or click and collect.
  2. The safety of food boxes as well as all the personnel involved in the purchasing dispatching or food package assembling of the food box, together with the staff working in the different departments with direct contact with clients or suppliers, will be guaranteed thanks to the use of fast analytical tools consisting on a miniaturized ready to use platform for on-site analysis. This device will allow to test staff before coming back to work (e.g.: after social isolation or quarantine) and periodically to rule out possible asymptomatic cases that could lead to new focuses. Likewise, it will allow to test material and working surfaces to ensure the cleaning procedures are efficient and ascertain the safety of the food boxes for consumers. Results will be linked to the App for retailers’ self-monitoring programs, to implement corrective measures, such as quarantine of others in contact in case of positive case, and always considering GDPR and associated legislation.

On one side, the food boxes will allow that those more at risk will protect themselves avoiding as much as possible to be exposed in a vulnerable situation, such as in the supermarket. At the same time the customized design of such boxes will contribute to a healthy diet.

Likewise, a better control of food related environments sites regarding both surfaces and workers will contribute to protect both vulnerable and healthy people, and contribute as well to the reactivation of the economy by providing the tools. This will contribute to a safer return to work during and post COVID-19 period and as preparation for possible future outbreaks.

Overcome low consumer trust: a good communication and dissemination strategy will help to pass over the message that retailer shops are safe and under control regarding COVID-19 transmission, together with the direct involvement of consumers on the ideation and customization of food boxes and their direct interaction with some of the developed tools, this proposal will contribute to a better informed and more committed consumer.

Another clear impact will be on the creation of consumer-valued food for healthier nutrition, our app will guide consumers to make informed choices for nutrition and health thanks to our e-communication innovation. We also contribute to build a consumer-centric connected food system, since the proposed miniaturized devices developed by INL include connectivity possibilities to be integrated with the app for this proposal, but also easily linked with BCT and Big data in the near future.

We will also tackle Enhance sustainability through resource stewardship by promoting reductions in food waste, thanks to our well balanced and personalized food box.

And lastly, to catalyze food entrepreneurship and innovation since a young startup will be part of the consortium, new products will be created and a new startup will be also created in the next few months.

The implementation plan involves 5 partners, where INL (Portugal) is the partner responsible for the realization of the project objectives and for the coordination of expenditures. More specifically:

  • INL will be responsible for the main task 1) – Activity Management, and task 4) – Adaptation of the PoC Device.
  • The partner FOCOS (Germany) will be responsible for task 2) – Communication and Dissemination of results to all stakeholders;
  • SGS (Portugal) will implement task 3) Commercialisation Strategy.
  • MILCOOP is responsible for the implementation of the preliminary social-economic research (task 6), while
  • CNR is the scientific organisation that will implement task 5) – Nutritional food boxes conceptualization and creation.
Activity Management

Coordinate and manage the project and the efficient, smooth and timely execution of all planned tasks; Ensure an accurate and on time communication flow among the project partners and with EIT Food in order to track the project progress and meet its objectives; Revise and maintain project work plan; with amendment handling in case of need; Preparation of the consortium meetings and project review meetings; preparation of cost claims and management report as well as the quality control of deliverables.

Communication and Dissemination

This task will target the dissemination of the project and its results to all interested stakeholders (industry, academia, scientists, official authorities, policy makers, consumers and other potential end-users) through training, workshops, interactive seminars and international conference(s) facilitating the sharing of knowledge, not only among consortium members but also among all potential end-users.

Commercialization strategy

Business Model Canvas will be performed for the project outcomes in order to align the most suitable exploitation strategy. Definition of route to market and identification of market share. Internal SGS Account manager identification for sales dissemination activities. It will be performed an evaluation of the commercialization of both solutions either independently or combined and a detailed strategy will be drafted during the lasts moths of the project.

PoC Device

An existing prototype for fast amplification and detection will be adapted and integrated with a simplified sampling and RNA extraction protocol to be implemented and used on site at retailer shops to test workers and surfaces for SAR-CoV-2. RNA purification will be integrated with the amplification and detection module for a fast and easy to use analytical procedure. Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RPA) or Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) isothermal DNA amplification technique, will be implemented on the miniaturized prototype combined with RT and optical/colorimetric detection. Phone camera will allow to register positive and negative samples and relate it with sample information to activate reinforced cleaning procedures and quarantine measures.

Improved food boxes

Creation of nutritionally balanced and ready to the market food-box , produced in several versions reaching the consumer via a app downloadable on the mobile phone. A ready-to-the-market food box, produced in several versions covering the following categories of nutritional needs (infants, pregnant women, elderly, food allergies and intolerances, dysmetabolic). The balanced and customized diet according to the specific food prescription of consumers will include functional foods, foods rich in polyphenols, foods enriches in micro and macronutrients capable of strengthening the immunological system. The foods with longer shelf life will be privileged for designing customized boxes.

Consumer habits and analysis of population

Implementation of a research study, that will investigate 1) the global food sector demands of present and future generations, and 2) consumers’ responsiveness to a ready-to-buy food box, and their availability to participate to a new social-economical process where consumers’ themselves are trusting a digital system of virtual guidance in their consuming behavior. To this aim, 1) a sample of 2000 consumers (N=2000), clustered by age, gender, health conditions, and controlling for psycho-biological profiles, will be interviewed (semi-structured questionnaire; 2) 20 special interviews will be administered to producers and entrepreneurs. Data will be collected in Italy, Portugal and Germany.