easics provides free tool to evaluate the performance of your AI application on its nearbAITM semiconductor IP

embedded AI close to your sensors

nearbAI is easics’ trademarked product for embedded neural network inference using digital hardware, applied close to your sensors. Its prime application is pattern matching in the supervised learning paradigm. nearbAI consists of two parts: a configurable semiconductor IP core that gets instantiated on your custom ASIC or on an FPGA, and software tools to configure your IP core. It is offered in a licensing model. You can contact us for a free nearbAI Estimator tool license to evaluate the performance of your AI application on the nearbAI IP.

high performance, low power, low cost – your choice

nearbAI targets embedded pattern matching applications close to the sensors, where at least one of the following plays a pivotal role: ultra-low and non-variable inference latency for real-time reaction speeds, ultra-low power consumption for battery-powered operation, lowest hardware component cost for high-volume applications. These applications include novel ultra-low latency AR and VR glasses, battery-powered healthcare wearables, human-in-the-loop medical diagnosis equipment, smart product scanners for retail applications, self-navigating drones, collision-avoidance in vehicles, sophisticated in-line quality inspection in industry 4.0 and earth observation in satellites. Targeted sensors include various types of image sensors, MEMS-microphones, and any novel sensors.

nearbAI Estimator view

evaluate and finetune your application using nearbAI software

The starting point in the nearbAI design flow is a trained neural network model. You can create that using your preferred machine learning framework such as PyTorch, TensorFlow or Keras. The nearbAI Estimator tool reads in your trained model as an ONNX file. Besides that trained model, you input your desired hardware configuration and constraints in the Estimator tool. The latter reflects aspects of your use case such as targeted hardware cost (silicon area), inference speed and latency, and power consumption. The nearbAI Estimator tool shows the latency for each layer of the neural network and highlights any hardware bottlenecks. This allows you to interactively finetune the constraints, evaluate the resulting performance, and arrive at the optimal configuration for your use case, without having to build hardware or run endless simulations. 

nearbAI design flow overview

generate your proprietary nearbAI core

Next, you use the nearbAI Core Generator tool to generate your proprietary nearbAI semiconductor IP core. You further use the nearbAI Network Compiler to generate the microsequence that will sit in memory next to the IP core to run your neural network. Doing ASIC and FPGA design services as well, easics is ready to assist you in integrating nearbAI on your chip.

optimize your return-on-investment.  from any FPGA implementation to your ASIC instantiation.

nearbAI supports efficient hardware mapping on your custom ASIC as well as on Xilinx and Intel FPGAs. Evaluation boards using FPGA or FPGA System-on-Module (SoM) are available, and support plug-in of your ASIC test-chip. The same nearbAI core can run several neural networks using different microsequences. This way, a nearbAI-based product supports field upgrades as well as on-the-fly hot switching between neural networks in a running application. The fine-grained configuration options further allow you to generate several flavors of a nearbAI IP core, such as a low performance and a high performance version. This enables the efficient roll out of a product family. All in all, nearbAI future proofs and optimizes the ROI of your embedded AI developments.

we’ll be back

From 5 till 7 October, easics participated in VISION, the world’s leading trade fair for machine vision in Stuttgart. easics gave live nearbAI demos, and presented it in a talk at the Industrial VISION days, organized by VDMA Machine Vision. On 14 October, easics presented nearbAI at the Bits&Chips Event at the Evoluon in Eindhoven. Upcoming opportunities to meet up and see live demos are the IP-SoC conference in Grenoble on 1 and 2 December 2021, and Embedded World in Nuremberg from 15 till 17 March 2022.

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Contact

Contact easics for more information and for a free nearbAI evaluation license to try it out yourself: info@easics.be

https://www.easics.com/deep-learning-fpga/
https://www.easics.com/deep-learning-asic/

Visit easics at their website and follow their social media channels:

Ground-breaking rapid Covid test as a result of strong partnership between imec & Verhaert

The leading micro-electronics research center imec and the pioneering product development group Verhaert Masters in Innovation entered a strong partnership to ultrafast develop a ground-breaking rapid Covid test based on breath sampling and accelerated PCR technology. A functional prototype will now be commercialized by MiDiagnostics.

Imec announces collaboration with MiDiagnostics for commercialization

Imec and the Flemish government have announced the collaboration between imec and its spinoff MiDiagnostics to further commercialize imec’s breath sampling and ultrafast PCR technology. Together with the Verhaert group they realized a functional prototype through an intense high-risk/high-gain process. 

This ground-breaking innovation creates an almost holy grail of testing for the Covid-19 pandemic. The device is able to collect sample material from people through breathing rather than the widely-used nasal pharyngal sampling. On top of that, ultrafast PCR can be performed directly, allowing for extremely fast time-to-results. This provides a far more comfortable sample collection, as well as more efficient processing.

Collaboration imec & Verhaert

At the end of 2019, Verhaert and imec entered a strategic collaboration to co-develop a breakthrough solution based on imec technology platforms. In this context Verhaert also invested in the imec.istart fund to provide seed capital to new technology start-ups.

In January 2020, Verhaert and imec partnered up for this breakthrough rapid Covid PCR test development. In no time, they built a breath sampling consumable containing imec’s innovative chip solution and a high-end PCR processing instrument. These developments will be used as an assay and technology development platform to assess aspects beyond clinical performance. This is a significant step towards a real-life solution and allowing for future expansion into domains other than Sars-Cov-like cancers.

This collaboration required constant interaction between very different disciplines, for example biochemistry and chip development on imec’s part, and product development skills such as optical & thermal design, software development, mechatronics, electronics and mechanics from Verhaert.

To accomplish this strict timeframe, a distinctive and agile project management approach was needed for fast decision-making and pursuing a parallel-path approach.

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About Verhaert Masters in Innovation
Since 1969, Verhaert Masters in Innovation has been a pioneer in the field of product innovation. As a leading innovation group in integrated product development, Verhaert helps companies and entrepreneurs to develop and implement successful innovation projects. Today, the group has more than 200 employees with offices in Kruibeke, Gentbrugge, Kortrijk, Nivelles, Utrecht and Aveiro. www.verhaert.com

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Contact
Nicky Sterck
Communications, Verhaert Masters in Innovation
+32 491 249 864

Visit Verhaert at their website and follow their social media channels:

ICsense and Sapiens join forces around deep brain stimulation

THE STORY OF SAPIENS AND DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION

Sapiens Steering Brain Stimulation (Eindhoven, NL) is founded in 2011 as a spin-out of Philips Research and got integrated into Medtronic in 2014. Their mission: to revolutionize personalized brain stimulation and treat neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Sapiens selected ICsense (www.icsense.com) for the development of the core component in its product, the stimulation ASIC (Application Specific IC).

DBS is used to treat neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, the right picture shows the custom 40-channel ASIC developed for Sapiens

DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) is an effective and well-established treatment; an implanted device sends electrical impulses to carefully selected parts of the brain to treat neurological diseases. By personalizing these impulses using advanced implanted leads with 40 individual stimulation points, Sapiens aims to improve the therapeutic effect of deep brain stimulation, shorten the clinical procedure, and improve patient comfort by reducing stimulation-induced side effects as shown in the picture below. 

The left picture shows a conventional DBS, while the right picture shows Sapiens steering brain stimulation with 40 configurable electrodes leading to improved directional stimulation

FIRST OF A KIND

From day one, it was clear that a custom neuromodulation chip (or ASIC) was essential since a DBS device with 40 stimulation points was never done before. Standard deep brain implants have 3-5 electrodes and are driven by an IPG (Implanted Pulse generator) in the chest. Sapiens’ solution used an adapted chest based IPG design that supplies the stimulation pulses through the lead to the ASIC which is on the patient’s skull. The ASIC distributes the pulses through a high-voltage matrix and is able to sense all electrodes with artefact reduction and to measure impedances. Powering of the ASIC is done over the lead through DC-AC-DC conversion. 

THE PATH TO THE BEST ASIC FOR SAPIENS

Sapiens selected ICsense based on its impressive track record in medical implantable ASICs. The team at Sapiens appreciated the transparent and honest communication of ICsense and chose the Leuven company to be their preferred custom ASIC design partner. ICsense’s ASIC expertise but also its system level thinking was an added value for Sapiens in order to take this next step.

At the start of the cooperation, both teams from Sapiens and ICsense worked very close together on the feasibility of the target architecture and balancing the trade-offs of the full system. Given the leapfrog in the state-of-the-art and many challenges, ICsense’s flexibility and open way of working, proved to be key to the success. By advancing at the pace of the customer and taking the time to explore, the best solution for Sapiens’ system was found. 

Hubert Martens, VP Product Development and co-founder of Sapiens

Hubert Martens, Vice President of Product Development and co-Founder at Sapiens, confirms: “ICsense developed this first-of-a-kind and innovative ASIC for stimulation and measurement in our 40-electrode deep brain implant. Next to the high technical and quality standards that ICsense employs, we strongly appreciate their open, honest and flexible way of working, which was key to the success of this development.

By combining ICsense’s ASIC design expertise with Sapiens in-depth system know-how, both companies managed together to define the right set of ASIC specifications and system requirements (lead integration, packaging, …). An important factor for this cooperation was having a person at Sapiens who has in-depth knowledge of electronics and the system. 

We selected ICsense, because they have all the right profiles in-house, unlike aggregation partners that just bring together different companies to do the work without creating additional value. In every step of the development, we could rely on ICsense’s support and have in-depth and open discussions without any unpleasant surprises. ICsense does not work as a consultant but as a true partner we can trust,“ concludes Martens.

BEYOND THE DESIGN

Based on the specifications, ICsense designed, manufactured and tested this IC for full functionality in its lab facilities in Leuven, Belgium. In parallel, ICsense coordinated the test development with the selected OSAT (Outsourced Semiconductor and Test) partner, to test the custom chip in production with high test coverage (medical grade) and at the agreed price. 

Also, in this last phase of the project, a close and open cooperation was key, with regular status meetings, in-depth reviews and even changes in specifications along the way to further optimize the system. ICsense proved to be flexible throughout the whole development process, which led to a successful ASIC that could steer the 40 electrodes from a conventional IPG, measure the brain signals and brain impedance with high-accuracy and low power and fit into a small cannister for implantation.  

NOT A ONE-SHOT COOPERATION

As a follow-up of this fruitful cooperation, ICsense designed two more ICs targeting Sapiens’ next-generation product requirements. Part of this work was financed via public funding (ECSEL InForMED, BRAINS Eurostars). 

Bram De Muer, CEO of ICsense

Bram De Muer, CEO of ICsense, comments: “ICsense also loves working with startup companies. They bring projects that go beyond the state-of-the-art and require an ASIC partner that can adapt to their changing ideas, is flexible and open and works closely with them to co-optimize the entire system. That’s a perfect fit with the ICsense way of working and culture: open, honest and a strong partner for its customers.” 

“Thanks to our company culture”, continues De Muer, “we have a strong and stable growing turnover and one of the highest employee retention figures in industry. This is important, also for startups. It proves the successful execution of projects, and all know-how stays in the company. When customers return years later, they will see the same people who build their first ASIC. And happy customers always come back….”

In 2014, Medtronic (NASDAQ: MDT) acquired Sapiens for an all-cash upfront consideration of approximately $200M. Medtronic established a global research and development center for its Neuromodulation business at Sapiens’ facility based in Eindhoven (The Netherlands).

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About ICsense

ICsense -an independent subsidiary of the TDK group- is Europe’s premier IC design company. ICsense’s core business is ASIC development and supply and custom IC designservices. ICsense has the largest fab-independent European design group with world-class expertise in analog, digital, mixed-signal and high-voltage IC design. The company develops and supplies customer exclusive ASIC solutions for the automotive, medical, industrial and consumer market compliant with ISO9001, ISO13485, IEC61508-ISO26262.

Website: www.icsense.com
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Contact
Press contact
Jeroen Van Ham
vanham@icsense.com
+32(0)589721

Visit ICsense at their website and follow their social media channels:

S3Food: microbreweries benefit from data-driven fermentation management

In The S3Food project Flying Couch Brewery in Denmark has the opportunity to start a project together with Zymoscope. Various beer fermentation processes will be conducted in order to collect sufficient amount of data, to improve accuracy and reproducibility while ensuring scalability of the solution.

The goal of the project is to finalize the development of a data-driven fermentation management solution i.e. non-invasive Internet of Things solution to monitor and control fermentation in the beer industry.

9 out of 10 microbreweries in Europe do not have access to the right tools to monitor and control fermentation. If any, the breweries end up using analogue solutions, which require time-consuming manual sampling and include weak data flows. A lack of appropriate quality control results in low and inconsistent product quality, production inefficiencies and large amounts of beer and CO2 spillage.

In Europe there are over 11,000 microbreweries, which means such a solution is very welcome in the industry. Fermentation processing in microbreweries, is of high complexity due to the involvement of various raw materials, different yeast strains, numerous quality parameters, biased factors, and interventions throughout.

This project has received a validation voucher of S3Food: this voucher includes financial support for “the validation of a digital solution in a relevant environment related to a selected challenge of the food sector”.

Go to the S3Food website

Verhaert’s Medical Solutions Accelerator is back to boost medical innovation

The University of Antwerp, the University Hospital of Antwerp and Verhaert Masters in Innovation team up once again in 2021 to boost medical innovation in Flanders. This year the City of Antwerp is joining the Medical Solutions Accelerator. Together they will help start-ups develop successful medical products and services in an inspiring coaching programme.

Why this programme
The Medical Solutions Accelerator gives medical start-ups access to a unique mix of state-of-the-art technology with breakthrough product innovation services. In addition, they’ll get input from end-users and medical experts in a clinical setting, and access funding and investment opportunities. Thanks to this program start-ups will launch a valuable and successful medical solution, validated by user and patient experience in clinical testing.

What to expect
This year 8 ambitious start-ups will be selected to refine their innovative idea with coaches from UAntwerpen, UZA and Verhaert. The 3-month programme consists of:

  • 5 inspiring workshops to guide the medical solutions towards market success
  • One-on-one coaching from industry experts & access to specialist equipment
  • A pitch event in which a jury of innovation experts, entrepreneurs and investors will select the most promising medical business and product concept.

Join the Medical Solutions Accelerator
Are you the ambitious start-up we are looking for? Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to boost your innovative idea. Submit your idea before 2 July 2021. Visit the Medical Solutions Accelerator website for more information and application. 

S3Food: Smart sensors will reduce food waste in bread production

A new breakthrough in the S3Food project. Food waste is a gigantic and increasing problem in the developed countries and requires immediate action as this constitutes a massive loss of resources throughout the food production value chain. This project aims at constructing, testing and optimizing a pilot process line to receive, handle and process bread waste. The technology enables the bread sector to reduce food waste by 50 % by 2030 and partly fulfilling UN’s sustainability goal # 12.3

The goal of this project is to integrate real time sensor technology in an automated process that separates bread waste, such as day-old bread and packed bread into homogeneous categories. By combining data from sensors with known product recipes, the composition of a finished bread waste product can be optimized, which after drying and grinding will become ingredients in new sustainable foods such as granola, bread crackers, muesli bars, pasta, bread chips etc.

Read more at the S3Food page

S3Food is the pan European project for digital Industry 4.0 transition in which DSP Valley takes part as one of the 13 international consortium partners.

S3Food: Portable real time scanner for contamination in milk production

Funded project within S3Food: Next Generation Sensors B.V. and CIED B.V.in the Netherlands aim to develop a portable real time scanner for contamination in food production, called “The Revolutionary Real Time AgroFood Contaminant Screener”.

S3Food is the pan European project for digital Industry 4.0 transition in which DSP Valley takes part as one of the 13 international consortium partners. It funds this great project that will develop the portable real time scanner for contamination in milk production. The second-largest food type in the agri-food testing market is the dairy industry, which is why the project will start with that industry as the launching market. After the product launch meat and fruit/vegetable companies – and food/feed companies in general – will follow rapidly after that.

An unprecedented portable contaminant screener will be delivered in this Lab-to-Sample. The development of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) allows the partners to rapidly commercialise their joint innovation. The proposed screener’s underlying technologies are:

– an unparalleled portable mass spectrometer
– a novel rapid sampling probe
– a novel blockchain ledger
– and machine learning algorithms

These algorithms are resulting in a revolutionary real-time dairy contaminant screener. Accurate, real-time contamination detection at the source would:

1) prevent contamination extension because of milk pooling. This is significantly reducing food waste.
2) reduce analysis costs and
3) drastically reduce the need for costly food recalls

Next Generation Sensors B.V. + CIED B.V. are also collaborating with The Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging Institute (M4I).

Verhaert participates in the imec.istart investment fund

Verhaert Masters in Innovation, the innovation factory with headquarters in Kruibeke, has subscribed to a capital increase from the imec.istart Fund. The investment fund imec.istart Fund receives a substantial capital injection and grows from 12.5 million euro to more than 30 million euro. 

Coaching tech start-ups

“Within the MyStartUp programme, Verhaert has guided and provided equity free seed money to more than hundred start-ups across Europe in recent years on the authority of the European Space Agency ESA, the European Copernicus and Point.Iot programme and several MedTech accelerators,” says Koen Verhaert, CEO and Program Director MyStartUp.

With this investment in the imec.istart Fund, Verhaert, through the fund, now also invests in the capital of such tech start-ups. “We have chosen the imec.istart Fund for this because of their track record, ecosystem and multi-sector approach. Verhaert will also help to guide the imec.istart team and coach the start-ups in further developing their idea into a marketable and scalable product.”

imec.istart Fund

The imec.istart Fund was established in 2017 with a starting capital of 12.5 million euro and a focus on start-ups working with digital technologies. The Flemish government and private partners who co-initiated the fund are imec, ING, BNP Paribas Fortis, Telenet and Cronos Groep. Besides its initial focus on digital technology, special attention will be paid to sustainability and IoT physical products. To reinforce this evolution, the fund also attracts 4 new partners: Verhaert, Nuhma, EFIN and Vlaamse EnergieHolding. This way, the capital of the imec.istart Fund grows to 30.5 million euro and the right framework is created.

During the past years, the investments of imec.istart often turned out to be a flywheel for follow-up funding. Every euro that the imec.istart Fund invested in start-ups generated on average more than 25 euro from other sources. Together, the portfolio companies of the imec.istart Fund raised over 320 million euro in follow-up funding. With the capital increase, the various partners want to further increase the impact of the start-up ecosystem and thus contribute to innovation and a sustainable local economy.

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More on imec.istart

About Verhaert Masters in Innovation
Since 1969, Verhaert Masters in Innovation has been a pioneer in the field of product innovation. As a leading innovation group in integrated product development, Verhaert helps companies and entrepreneurs to develop and implement successful innovation projects. Today, the group has more than 200 employees with offices in Kruibeke, Gentbrugge, Kortrijk, Nivelles, Utrecht and Aveiro. www.verhaert.com

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Contact
Nicky Sterck
Communications, Verhaert Masters in Innovation, +32 491 249 864

Visit Verhaert at their website and follow their social media channels:

easics switches into next gear and extends management with new CEO

easics, a Leuven-based market leader in the embedded systems digital design, switches into its next gear as a company. Next to providing unique competence and development platforms that lead to first-time right, reliable and optimized logic and software that is maintainable by the customer, easics starts providing network and Artificial Intelligence (AI) product/IP solutions for system developers of health and industrial products. easics nearbAI technology provides a  compact, low-power and affordable AI core that runs complex neural networks on FPGAs and ASICs at the edge, close to the sensors. This results in a low and predictable latency and runs with ultra low-power consumption. easics’ embedded AI solutions integrate tightly with novel and existing sensors such as image sensors capturing light inside and outside the visible spectrum (such as hyperspectral and thermal infrared), 3D scanning laser (LiDAR), Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensors, radar, microscopy, ultrasound sensors, and microphones, and thus enable many novel businesses.

To enable this growth ambition Emiliano D’Agostino joined the MT as managing director & CEO of easics as of April 2021. He is an executive with hands-on experience in the medtech industry. Before joining easics, he has founded DoseVue, a medtech company which he has brought from incorporation up to commercial product launch. He received a PhD in electrical engineering, focused on medical image processing, from the KU Leuven in 2006. He holds master degrees in physics engineering from the Université Libre de Bruxelles and in nuclear engineering from the Politecnico di Milano.

“I am really looking forward to helping easics moving to the next phase by expanding easics’ product related activities, in particular in the medical sector. The company has a tremendous potential and is already a trusted partner for several big international players in the medical and industrial fields.”, says Emiliano. Rector-emeritus of the KU Leuven, Prof. Oosterlinck, and since its foundation 30 years ago Chairman of the Board of easics, welcomes Emiliano: “Emiliano is an international manager with very good knowledge of the health and industrial business, and an excellent alumnus of the medical imaging research group of the KU Leuven, that I started more than 45 years ago. I am sure that he will bring easics to the next level.” “We welcome Emiliano to the MT of easics and look forward to growing the company further with him,” say Ramses Valvekens and Steven Coenen, the managers and main stakeholders of easics.


Visit easics at their website and follow them via their social media channels:

S3Food hands out 14 grants to projects for digital innovation in food manufacturing

DSP Valley is glad to announce that 28 SMEs will receive funding from S3FOOD, the pan European project for digital Industry 4.0 transition in which we take part as one of the 13 international consortium partners. 14 projects have been selected with themes like ‘data-driven fermentation management’, ‘egg processing with enhanced data integration’ or  ‘smart systems for real-time monitoring of evaporation in wine aging’.

14 cross-sectoral collaboration projects

This has already been the second S3FOOD voucher call within the project. 14 innovative SME driven projects have been selected all across Europe. The winning projects will receive funding to develop and adopt innovative digital solutions to concrete challenges food processing companies are facing to modernize and improve food production.

Alltogether, the 14 cross–sectoral collaboration projects will receive different types of vouchers for an amount close to 1.3 million Euros. The types of vouchers vary depending on the development stage of the project, called the TRL, or Technology Readiness Level. The earliest stage projects receive up to 15,000 Euro while the larger scale collaboration projects  receive up to 180,000 Euro.

Industry 4.0 transition

S3FOOD wants to establish an innovation-friendly, cross-border and cross-sectoral ecosystem to help SMEs start their Industry 4.0 transition.

Veerle De Graef, Innovation Manager, Flanders’ FOOD– coordinator of the S3FOOD project: “Companies that still rely on a few in-house specialists to register and interpret processing data are at risk of losing important knowledge and expertise. Using for instance smart sensors, makes it possible to secure everything in automated systems and to bring sustainable benefits to their business, improving efficiency and quality of the production methods.”

Besides the funding, being a part of S3FOOD also grants the 14 projects access to industry experts, knowledge sharing, a solid network of like-minded SMEs and much more.

A revolution in progress

Many larger companies have already responded to the fourth industrial revolution – the digital revolution -, by automating and digitalizing their process. This includes benefiting from the related data generation, which opens the door to identify processing issues quicker. This also gives opportunities for continuous improvement.

S3FOOD targets the many SMEs in the agri-food industry in Europe, that have still not found the partners and funds to start the same journey towards digitalization.

The consortium has already supported 44 projects with 51 unique SMEs across Europe and now adds 14 new projects to the portfolio.

“While we are still in the middle of the S3FOOD project, we can already begin to see the results of the first projects that received the funding vouchers. It’s fascinating to see how SMEs can truly benefit from the latest technology, and we are happy to be able to welcome another 14 projects to S3FOOD, and to the future of food production,” says project leader Veerle De Graef.

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S3FOOD is a 5 million Euro Innosup – 01 project under H2020 that aims to stimulate the uptake of smart sensor solutions by the small and medium sized enterprises in the agri-food sector with the purpose of improving efficiency, sustainability and safety. S3FOOD started in May 2019 and has launched two voucher calls where SMEs could apply for funding for the implementation of innovative digital solutions to concrete challenges of the food processing industry.

The S3FOOD consortium consists of 13 partners from across Europe:
Flanders’ FOOD, Belgium; DSP Valley, Belgium; Wagralim, Belgium; INNOSKART, Hungary; AgriFood Capital BV, The Netherlands; AIN, Spain; ASINCAR, Spain; Bretagne Développement Innovation, France; CLUSAGA, Spain; CORALLIA , Greece; Food & Bio Cluster Denmark, Denmark; Food-Processing Initiative, Germany and CIMES, France.

Read more about S3FOOD on www.s3food.eu  or follow the project on LinkedIn and twitter: @s3food_eu

S3FOOD has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 824769-S3FOOD.