Prizes on offer for solutions to support Mediterranean NWFP

Applications deadline: 30 August 2019.

INCREDIBLE Open Innovation Challenge

Do you have an interesting solution or business idea to solve a technological, social or environmental challenge for non-wood forest products in the Mediterranean? The Innovation Networks of Cork, Resins and Edibles in the Mediterranean Basin (INCREDIBLE) project has just launched the Open Innovation Challenge (OIC) which will select the five most innovative ideas with the potential to increase the environmental, economic or social value of Mediterranean non-wood forest products (NWFP).

Prize-winners will be invited to attend the INCREDIBLE business acceleration programme led by an international team of leading forestry, business and NWFP experts. “NWFP could become a real social and economic resource for the Mediterranean and its people,” said Project Coordinator, Inazio Martinez de Arano, Head of the Mediterranean Facility of the European Forest Institute. “We need to speed up our innovation capacities and unlock their fantastic potential to create value for both rural and urban populations and to secure their sustainable management under climate change. The OIC gives us the opportunity to collect knowledge and ideas from beyond the immediate project network, bringing new perspectives which can help tackle challenges identified in the first phase of the project”.

The INCREDIBLE project, a Thematic Network funded under the European Commission’s H2020 programme, has established five Innovation Networks (iNets) for cork, resins, wild mushrooms & truffles, wild nuts & berries and aromatic & medicinal plants. During their first year, each iNet has developed a network of experts, from research, policy and practice, who have identified several challenges which are the focus for this first edition of the competition.

NWFP can significantly contribute to the creation of new business opportunities and jobs in the rural areas. Photo: INCREDIBLE

The OIC is open to everyone – individual, start-up or company – with an innovative idea to solve a problem or boost a NWFP value chain. Competition winners will be invited, free of charge, to the INCREDIBLE business acceleration programme, a 10-day intensive training course, held at the Agripolis Campus, Padova, Italy; and travel costs will be covered by the project. Participants to the programme will be able to boost their ideas through seminars, support from mentors and experts for coaching, and workshops on transversal and targeted topics (business models, marketing strategies, branding, traceability tools, etc.). Applications to the Challenge are open until 30 August 2019.

Also of note, challenge organisers are not only looking for people with solutions but also for those who might be interested in the initiative, as mentor-supporters to boost the programme and help new ideas get off the ground. Sponsors and supporters will have the first opportunity to get in touch with winning innovators and will contribute to turning brilliant ideas into projects that could transform NWFP value chains.

Whether as innovator or supporter, the OIC offers the opportunity to make a real change and enable NWFP to fulfil their potential as a viable social and economic resource for the Mediterranean.

In the Mediterranean, forest bioeconomy has a strong focus on business models for NWFP. Photo: INCREDIBLE

Innovation Networks of Cork, Resins and Edibles in the Mediterranean Basin (INCREDIBLE) is an Innovation Network open to all those involved or interested in creating economic, social and environmental value through improved production, collection, processing, marketing of Mediterranean Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP). INCREDIBLE is coordinated by the EFI Mediterranean Facility and funded by the EU Commission H2020 framework programme for the period November 2017 to October 2020.

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EFIMED is the Mediterranean Facility of the European Forest Institute. Based in Barcelona, Spain, it was launched in 2007.