Ga verder naar de inhoud

Inspire - Digital Technologies in the Food System

This course will showcase the challenges in the Food System course and the future landscapes of technology development in agriculture and the food industry.

Course information




Anyone with a Bachelor's, MSc or PhD degree or substantial experience within the food system or tech sector.




From the 1st November until the 2nd December 2024

Monday 28th October: Access to pre-course online learning resources

About : Are you able develop innovative digital technologies to transform our food system?

Digital technologies, data science and artificial intelligence is an area of increasing interest. The unique selling point for the proposed INSPIRE programme relates to the position of the consortium on the UK, EU and global stage on research, knowledge and expertise in food security, food systems and digital technologies. In particular, the lead partner, QUB’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technologies has world leading expertise and reputation in secure connected intelligence, coupled with the internationally renowned expertise in food integrity through the Institute of Global Food Security. This is expected to be a key selling point of the programme, particularly as we aim to deliver a 3-day face-to-face make-a-thon event in QUB. The EIT Food label and partner contributions will strengthen the course offering even further. This will be complemented with expert speakers and rising food stars from within the EIT Food network.

This is not a niche market as digital technologies are now in the food chain and related value streams, but demand is expected to increase further as it is clear the current agri-food workforce presents a low skill level in comparison to the digital solutions available. The consortium also has state-of-the art facilities within their own organisations, coupled with complementary stakeholder networks who can provide value-added activities, industry speakers, facilities and access to our target cohort to ensure in-depth and professional content and delivery of the course.

The proposed Inspire course is also aligned with The Deep Tech Initiative, as part of the European’s Innovation Agenda and will help to support the ambition to train one million people in deep tech between 2023 and 2025.

What will you achieve? :

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Understand the challenges in the food system
  • Explore and critically assess the different digital technologies which can transform the food sector
  • Translate innovations into feasible business solutions for the agri-food sector.
  • Think beyond boundaries, and systematically explore and generate new ideas, responding to current and future challenges within the food system.

The course is open to anyone with a Bachelor's, MSc or PhD degree or substantial experience within the food system or tech sector.

Our Inspire Course is designed for individuals who are passionate about transforming our food system into a fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly food system for all. In particular, we are looking for aspiring entrepreneurs with a keen interest in the digital technologies which could transform the sector, and who would love to come up with innovative potential business ideas to revolutionise the industry.

Ideally, we are seeking Undergraduate, master’s Students, PhD students, Postdocs, young professionals, or aspiring entrepreneurs interested in food systems and digital technologies.

We are interested in individuals from multidisciplinary backgrounds to work in teams to come up with innovative ideas e.g., Agriculture, Marine Biology, Aquaculture, Food Sciences, Engineering, Business / Marketing, Informatics and Computational Science, among others.

Career Opportunities : Training in agriculture and innovation can open new career opportunities


  • Farmers and practitioners aiming to understand what the transition to sustainable farming entails and connection to a pan-European network
  • BSc, MSc, PhD, and early career researchers: The Inspire programme will provide the opportunity for the creation of a pan-European network of researchers, industry, and experts across the agri-food community. It will increase their skills in digital technologies and create the conditions for the creation of novel research methods or areas of research currently not fully explored.
  • Young Professionals and industry participants: Will get a greater insight and understanding of how secure, connected intelligence and digital technologies can be incorporated into their business / agri-food chain; learning from industry experts and startups; and connections to pan-European network in agri-food
  • Aspiring entrepreneurs, startups and spin-offs: Will get entrepreneurship skills training, business coaching from renowned experts in entrepreneurship, innovation and food systems and a greater insight into the food system and problem spaces
  • Commercial organisations interested in professional development opportunities for their employees; and building links with a pool of talented agri-food and tech researchers, innovators and professionals and aiming to shape the new generation of talent in the food system.

Feedback from our participants : How this course helped William McColgan developing a demand predication model for perishing foods

William McColgan attended the Inspire – Digital Technologies in the Food System course in 2023.

William and his team placed first in our pitching competition at the end of the course with the business ideaDemand Prediction for Perishable Foods. This idea centered on developing a model using predictive analytics to better match supply and demand of perishable goods to help producers better predict demand. 

Since the course, William has taken this idea further and has engaged with the Hartree Centre to further develop the predictive model. 

His next steps are to implement this model within McColgan's and see what appetite other producers have to implement these approaches. 

McColgans has been hailed for leading the digital transformation vision in the Northern Ireland food sector.


William is a director of McColgan’s food company, which is a third-generation family-owned company with deep roots in Northern Ireland and a commitment to delivering delicious savory pastries. Established by the McColgan family in 1940, the business has a unique story behind its success, having started life as a tea shop in Strabane, Northern Ireland. William and his sister Grainne (the company’s MD) have taken the company from strength to strength, winning the Best Large Company Product award in 2024

Dean Black Impact Stories 2023
“Since the course I am a project collaborator in the Future Island Island (FII) project which looks at waste ecosystems on Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland. This is a 2 year project, receiving £4.625 million (€5.494 million) to bolster awareness and improve public engagement towards an intuitive, eco-friendly waste management culture. The Food systems course was really useful in allowing me to participate in this project and food systems are integral to where the project is headed.”
Dean Black, Alumnus Cohort 2023 Inspire Digital Technologies
“This program is a great opportunity to explore new ideas on how to accelerate innovation thanks to technology and data helping the food industry to cope with increasing pressure the agri-food sector is currently facing.The most valuable thing for me was to witness  effective collaboration between all stakeholders such as farmers, academics, family businesses, big corporations, start-ups and scientists”
Clotilde Kervella, Alumna Cohort 2023 Inspire Digital Technologies
“What I enjoyed most about the course: Exposure to cutting edge food tech development and quality of resource persons. What the single most useful takeaway from this course: Project management of a diverse team of professionals across different time zones”
Ayotunde Oke, Alumnus Cohort 2023 Inspire Digital Technologies

What you'll learn : You will learn the following competencies

Food systems

  • Analyse the complexities of the agri-food system using a range of systems approaches to identify and appraise current and future sustainability challenges. 
  • Develop innovative digital solutions to address and respond to sustainability challenges in the agri-food system. 


  • Create digital solutions that have social and environmental value to address a sustainability challenge within the agri-food sector.
  • Design and implement effective digital solutions and innovations to deliver impact and sustainable value for supply chain across the agri-food system.

Structure and Modules : The course will include three modules

The agri-food sector is facing increasing pressure as it tries to feed and nourish a growing population by 2050 in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. The sector faces challenges around achieving targets on net zero greenhouse gas emissions; improving environmental performance; tackling food loss and food waste; increasing resiliency; increasing transparency, trust and fairness from farm to fork; and achieving healthier lives through food. It is evident that we need to reconsider how we produce, distribute, value and consume food.

Innovations in technology and data science are forecasted to play an important role in transforming our food system and achieving global food security for future generations, based on the principles of integrity. In the agri-food industry, insight driven data will be crucial to address the major challenges facing the sector: connecting insights into the health of soil, the environment, livestock, humans, infectious and non-communicable diseases and populations. Digital technologies will allow the secure collection of data and tracking of food supply chains (transparency); monitoring and predicting changes to reduce and prevent risk (resiliency); precision agriculture and sustainable farming practices; and connecting all stakeholders, from sellers to buyers, driving more engaged and informed consumers and ensuring fairness across the supply chain.

The Inspire Digital Technologies course will showcase the challenges in the Food System course and the future landscapes of technology development in agriculture and the food industry. It will focus on digital technologies and provide training on applying cyber security, wireless connectivity, data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches to address local, national and global challenges within the agri-food industry.

Throughout the course, participants will navigate the complex landscape of data analytics and AI and unlock digital innovation. Participants will also receive entrepreneurship and innovation training to develop solutions to industry challenges and pitch their innovative business ideas. Participants will also have the option to undertake a 2-day in person event in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Timeline: Friday 1st November – Monday 2nd December

• Monday 28th October: Access to pre-course online learning resources

• Friday 1st November: Introduction and Food systems event (online)

• Friday 8th November: Digital Technologies in the Food System event (online)

• Wednesday 13th – Friday 15th November: 3-day Make-a-thon (online)

• Monday 18th November: Day 4 Make-a-thon (online)

• Monday 2nd December: Live pitch event with prizes (online)

1st prize is €1,000 with 2nd and 3rd place €500 each

• Monday 25th – Tuesday 26th November: In-person 2-day industry showcase and digital technology demonstrations in Belfast, Northern Ireland (optional)

Details of the event

Day 1: 

Based at the Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences at QUB.

  • Tour of the Institute for Global Food Security lab and ASSET Technology Centre - a leading analytical chemistry and mass spectrometry research hub, which hosts the Centre for Excellence in Agriculture and Food Integrity, in partnership with the UK's National Measurement Laboratory. The centre is also listed as a 'Centre of Expertise' by the Food Authenticity Network, a UK DEFRA initiative. 
  • Followed by lunch.
  • Talks from agri-food tech companies and networking sessions
  • Evening social: Belfast food tour (taking participants on a tour around Belfast City and sampling the local cuisine (

Day 2:

Based at the Institute for Electronics, Communication and Information Technologies (ECIT) at QUB. 

  • Morning session will be tours of the facilities with the engineering team with loads of technology demonstrations.
  • Followed by lunch.
  • Talks from the industry - agri and food tech companies. 

Included in the price for a full course ticket (EARLY BIRD RATE: €95.75 (incl VAT) for students)

* Accommodation for one night

** All meals from arrival to departure

*** Belfast food tour (3 courses with drinks)


The inspire participants will be assessed against the learning outcomes through:

  • Formative Assessment:
    • Course feedback is provided during 120-minute-long Q&A Student Clinic sessions every Wednesday of the course
    • Problem-Solution Fit: Live presentation and feedback
    • Solution- Market Fit: Live presentation and feedback
  • Summative Assessment:
    • End of course food systems and entrepreneurship quiz on Canvas

The training provided as part of the Digital Tech course ends with a final test. Successful participants will be granted a Certificate of Completion. 

However, right after the school training ends on the 18th November, participants will have the opportunity to join the Inspire Impact competition, to continue their learning and develop their business ideas through additional entrepreneurship clinics and online-training as well as earn an additional certificate of completion. On the 2nd December, Digital Tech students will pitch their innovate business ideas with first place prizes of €1,000, and second and third place prizes of €500. The winning team will be invited to compete in the Inspire Impact competition, where they can win additional cash prizes (up to €4000).

The Inspire Impact course is free of charge for candidates who have satisfactorily completed any Inspire School. 

More information about this competition will be shared soon!

  • Final Pitch – Teams present their innovative idea at a final pitch event. The teams will be marked on both their pitch and the overall concept.

Practical : Participation Fees - Early Bird / General rate

Full course (online and In-person event):

  • Students, academia, NGOs: €95.75 / €121
  • Professionals: €363 / €423.5

Online only course:

  • Students, academia, NGOs: €60.5 / €90.75
  • Professionals: €302.5 / €363

Early Bird fee deadline: 1st October 2024 23:59:59 CET.

Application Deadline: 25th October 2024 23:59:59 CET.

To enquire about discounted places, including bulk discounts for companies or teams, as well as extenuating circumstances, please contact Shannon McLaughlin by email ( 

Please note, course fees will be waived for 20 individuals with care responsibilities; persons on parental leave; people who are unemployed; employed but with a low income; and people living in rural areas. These will be given out on a first come first served basis. 

For those travelling for the 2-day in-person event in Belfast, we can provide financial support towards your travel and accommodation costs. Please email for further details.

VAT is included in all the prices.

“I am a recent graduate of a master's program in climate change, agriculture, and food security. And before that I did a business degree. And I thought this was a really good opportunity to just kind of look at it from a technological perspective about food systems. I just thought it'd be a great opportunity to learn more about something that I'm hugely passionate about”
Aoife Roche, 2023 Cohort
“It's been fantastic. I feel the course has given me massive value. I would recommend anybody that's looking at this course or looking at improving their knowledge in food technology or even interested in the circular economy and how that can be relevant towards food to take the course. I had zero knowledge of food technology before this. I have no understanding of how biochemistry, how advanced manufacturing, how robotics all integrates into the food system. My knowledge in the space of 5 to 6 weeks has massively improved. I would also say that it is going to become very, very important in the future. And this course is a great introduction to get your foot in the door as well.”
Kieran McCann, 2023 Cohort
“It's really opened up my eyes to the potential that's out there, mixing the agricultural background I have with the opportunities that these new technologies bring.”
Steven Johnston, 2023 Cohort
“The most valuable thing is that it brings in a lot of ideas, how to push and accelerate innovation within different ways in the food industry. And I think the most important thing for me was collaboration between all stakeholders including academics, companies, start-ups, but also big companies and scientists. I think that's really key for the future of innovation in the food industry.”
Clotilde Kervella, 2023 Cohort
“What I enjoyed most about the course: Exposure to cutting edge food tech development and quality of resource persons. What the single most useful takeaway from this course: Project management of a diverse team of professionals across different time zones”
Ayotunde Oke, 2023 Cohort

Partners : In collaboration with

Queen's University of Belfast

Visit website

Building Global Innovators

Visit website

Lund University

Visit website

Aarhus University

Visit website
Applications closed

InfraBooster Foundation

The initial level of InfraBooster educational modules.Recruitment for InfraBooster is open for RIS countries!
Applications closed

Food Solutions

Be part of the solution to the global food crisis!Based on a challenge-based learning Food Solutions is creating environments where students thrive in the future transformation of the food systems. Dive into a programme like no…
Started on July 1st

Inspire Impact

Welcome to Inspire Impact: Mastering Sustainability and Innovation in Agri-Food!

Assess your individual food sector skill level

Assess your skills