Horizon 2020 Programme

Access to the EU’s €80 billion Horizon 2020 Programme

Horizon 2020  is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020). It promises to deliver breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the laboratory to the market.

Having a location in Ireland enables organisations headquartered outside the EU, to participate in this large-scale, potentially game changing EU support programme for research and innovation.

Horizon 2020: Food & Healthy Diet

Research related to Food & Healthy Diet is one of the keys areas that will be supported under Horizon 2020. This theme breaks down to three sub-topics, as follows:

Promoting informed consumer choices

The focus here is on research exploring the preferences, attitudes, needs, behaviour, lifestyle and education of consumers. Activities supported will investigate diet-related diseases (obesity, anorexia) and promote sustainable eating choices through social innovation, innovative models and methodologies. Another area of support includes activities aimed at enhancing communication between consumers, the food industry and the research community.

Delivering strategic solutions for healthy and safe foods and diets for all

The healthy foods and diets sub-theme focuses on meeting nutritional needs and the impact of food on physiological functions and physical and mental performance. It also encompasses research on the links between diet, ageing, chronic disease and disorders and dietary pattern and aims to identify health and well-being promoting dietary solutions and innovations. Meanwhile, the safe foods and diets sub-theme includes research on chemical and biological hazards throughout the total food, feed and drinking water supply chains. In addition, it encompasses the development of improved food safety standards.


Creating opportunities for a sustainable and competitive agri-food industry, through innovation in food processing

This research topic includes all stages of food processing from food design, packaging, process design and control to waste reduction and by-product valorisation. It addresses critical issues such as affordable and high-quality foods, traceability, logistics and services, socio-economic factors and the limitation of negative impacts on the environment and climate change. In particular, it addresses sustainability concerns linked to social, environmental and economic change.  Find forthcoming Horizon 2020 calls related to food, when the details become availablehere.


Local contact point

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and/or, where relevant, the Marine Institute  will support Irish-based food organisations wishing to participate in Horizon 2020 through  designated European Advisers.


Case study:  Developing smart and sustainable food packaging

Two Irish-based organisations are  among a team of 15 research partners from eight different countries working together to develop eco-friendly, biodegradable and intelligent packaging, aimed at improving the shelf life of food and communicating information on freshness to the consumer.  The SusFoFlex project (Smart and sustainable food packaging utilising flexible printed intelligence and materials technologies) is supported by the EU through its research, technology and innovation fund.

One part of the project aims to create novel packaging made from biodegradable materials sourced from agri-food by-products and to improve the barrier and anti-oxidant properties of this packaging using natural additives, fillers and nanomaterials. The research team is also attempting to produce a sensor array that gathers information on the quality status  of the food and  communicates it to the consumer via their mobile phone.  The project aims to develop the technology to the level of pilot-scale production.

System Label, an Irish company, will design and manufacture the sensors using low-cost printing technologies combined with radio frequency identification (RFID) based on near field communication (NFC) technology. The other Irish partner is Georgia Tech Ireland, an applied research centre, founded in 2006 as a joint investment between Georgia Tech, based in the United States, and the Irish state agency IDA Ireland. Georgia Tech Ireland works with companies that require innovative RFID, wireless or ICT solutions to solve real-world problems.

Explaining the potential benefits of the SusFoFlex project,  System Label’s quality engineer and project leader Declan Farrell says: “Consumers will benefit from extended shelf-life and from interactive packaging that can indicate the quality status of the product using a more scientific method, thereby reducing levels of food waste.”