Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub: the new landmark for developing the Italian agri-food sector
Veronafiere is home to the new Italian agrifoodtech centre. The memorandum of understanding setting up the Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub was signed today by a wide-ranging partnership of public and private players: Cariverona Foundation, UniCredit, Verona City Council, Veronafiere, Confindustria Verona, University of Verona, Cattolica Assicurazioni and Eatable Adventures (which will manage the hub’s operations).
The initiative aims to stimulate innovation culture in the agri-food sector to create a strong and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem. Against this background, Verona with its Exhibition Centre stands ready to become the main landmark for the development of agrifood in Italy and a vital meeting place for entrepreneurs, experts and researchers.
The Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub strategically completes the work of FoodSeed, the start-up accelerator in the National Accelerator Network CDP Venture Capital Sgr founded in Verona early in March with funds of more than 15 million euros to promote the growth of young companies specialising in high-potential markets.
The hub will be hosted in the facilities of Veronafiere Palaexpo with the mission of promoting and spreading knowledge of the most advanced solutions in the sector by creating strategic connections between all players in the field. The goal is to revitalise sustainable growth for agri-foods in compliance with ethical principles and valorise the excellence of the Italian supply chain in the face of the unprecedented challenges posed by the current international context and the climate crisis.
Veronafiere is the ideal setting to host the Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub’s operations, given its ability to generate connections including many of its own successful trade fairs in the agri-food sector, such as Vinitaly, Fieragricola, Sol&Agrifood, Enolitech and B/Open. All the more, Veronafiere has always supported company innovation and in February this year launched Fieragricola TECH: a new exhibition focus specifically for the technological revolution taking place in the primary sector.
“This is an important result for the Verona’s ecosystem, the development of venture capital and its role in facilitating technological innovation in production chains,” said the Minister of Economy and Finance, Giancarlo Giorgetti, in his message sent for the presentation of the project -.“Start-ups are one of the main vehicles for transformation and modernisation processes in a mature economy such as Italy’s.”
The Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub aims to promote entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector by creating quality employment and setting off sustainable and long-lasting growth paths. The development catalysed by the new facility will have a positive impact on the entire system, both locally and nationally, and will help improve the competitiveness of Italian industry. In this context, Verona will play a front-line role: It will be the fulcrum for a relationship network involving strategic partners and key global players.
Minister Giorgetti added: “The strength of the agri-food sector is a matter of great pride, yet we must always be ready to move forwards and this is where the driving effect that new businesses can provide comes into play: Verona, one of the main industrial areas in Europe, can become a model that can be replicated thanks to an ecosystem ready to welcome opportunities as we build them.”
The Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub will take the following four lines of action to achieve its objectives. First of all, an ecosystem will be promoted capable of bringing companies, SMEs, research centres, universities and citizens together to work with common objectives in the food sector. The publication of regular reports will then share pertinent information detailing the agrifood market to stimulate new start-ups and encourage the implementation of new technologies.
Networking events and collaboration projects will also be promoted and involve all stakeholders to find original solutions in response to the main challenges in the sector. Lastly, training projects will be launched with the aim of encouraging techno-entrepreneurship, especially among younger generations. Start-ups will be able to access these wide-ranging activities free of charge.
Data confirm that Italy is now ready to drive technological development in this sector, even on a global scale. In 2022, the Crops 4.0 market was worth about 2.1 billion euros, with a growth of 31% over 2021 (Smart AgriFood Observatory).
Even the investments seeking to accelerate the technological transition are impressive: the Venture Capital Monitor at the LIUC Business School suggests that operations concluded by venture capital funds in the agrifoodtech sector came to nearly 270 million euros in the two-year period 2020-2021, while the sector last year was one of the top performers for the amount of resources invested.