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Course information

This programme wants to enhance the human intellectual capital of research-intensive institutions and R&I private agri-food organisations by preparing a new generation of ‘researchpreneurs’. Nurturing entrepreneurial talents is a key driver to boost competitiveness and long-term value creation of the food ecosystem. The Innovator Fellowship programme is targeted at creative, young professionals and researchers worldwide who have the ambition to solve global challenges and enhance their career prospects and employability. The participants get the chance to develop an innovative idea to significantly impact the food system’s regenerative, inclusive and positive growth.

If you have an idea that may impact the Food systems and you are passionate about unveiling/unlocking sustainable and innovative solutions, Innovator Fellowship is the programme and journey for you.

Innovator Fellowship embraces the three EIT Food missions:

1. HEALTHIER LIVES THROUGH FOOD – enabling more consumers to make better choices through access to healthier products and actionable information.

2. NET-ZERO FOOD SYSTEMS – reducing CO2 equivalent emissions by tackling CO2 hotspots, reducing the footprint of proteins through diversification, and creating new markets for food waste.

3. A FULLY TRANSPARENT, RESILIENT AND FAIR FOOD SYSTEM – a more resilient, trusted food supply chain with people experiencing greater food security and safety through widespread digitally enabled food supply chains.

Together with the EIT Food community of academic and private sector stakeholders, you will address the complex and critical challenges of sustainability and climate change, non-communicable diseases and poor nutrition, consumer trust, scarcity and transparency through a missions-led approach.

EIT Food Innovator Fellowship offers a highly stimulating and creative six-month programme coupled with key skills acquisition and mentoring to translate a lab-idea into a business idea. You will receive high-level training on entrepreneurial skills and one-to-one mentoring, allowing you to impact the food systems, diversify your skills portfolio, enhance your employability, and immerse in the EIT Food ecosystem and its opportunities.

  • Level: Professional

  • Innovator Fellowship accepts PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellows and Professionals. At the time of the application, Professionals must have a Master’s Certificate and at least two years of full-time equivalent research and innovation (R&I) experience.

  • Course duration: About 12 days along six months

  • Start date: 6/03/2023
    End date: 21/01/2024

  • Online and on-location

  • Language: English
  • Certificate of completion

What you learn?

You will learn the following competencies:

  • Food Systems:
    • Develop strategies to address current and future sustainability challenges using systems approaches
    • Design innovative responses to address sustainability challenges in the food system
  • Entrepreneurship:
    • Create opportunities for value creation
    • Mobilise resources to create sustainable value for others
    • Design and implement effective actions to deliver impact
  • Problem Solving:
    • Critically appraise the problem space to analyse the strategic implications of future choices
    • Mobilise effective co-creation methodologies to generate original and sustainable solutions that include relevant voices
  • Critical Thinking:
    • Critically analyse, interpret and report data and information to inform ethical decision making
    • Challenge existing practices and knowledge to develop sustainable alternatives
  • Leadership:
    • Appraise different strategies to deliver a food system innovation
    • Demonstrate leadership towards the implementation of a food system innovation
  • Communication:
    • Devise effective communications methods that support organisational strategies
    • Engage in two-way communication with stakeholders about their concerns
    • Adjust messaging for different audiences

Structure & Modules

The Innovator Fellowship journey starts with a series of training sessions to build a community of game-changers, progressing through team formation and business idea development and culminating with the final pitch of the business proposition in the presence of venture capitalists and innovative food system specialists.

The journey is designed to be compatible with your routine activities and associated with a reduced workload (see below).

Innovator Fellowship consists of six steps.


July 14th (afternoon)– 2023


July 21st (afternoon)– 2023

To move from individuals to a community, it is necessary to connect personally before making commitments, forming teams, and working together. People who complement, challenge, and support one another make fantastic teams. In the Community Building training, your values will be the chemistry and glue to form a game-changer community sharing the same values and making informed choices about who enables you to innovate.

System Thinking and Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) for Food Systems will allow you to acquire a system approach to problem-solving essential at a later stage to decide on which challenge you wish to solve.


September 15th (all day) and 16th (all day)– 2023

Per Diem support is foreseen for travel and subsistence.

Step 2 allows you to choose and focus on the agri-food sector problem you want to solve. This step challenges your assumptions and redefine your problem to initiate the ideation process and create an innovative solution. You will start building collaborations within the Innovator Fellowship cohort and create a team. A team and teamwork are the ultimate assets for executing any function in a real work context, and the ability to collaborate is the key strategic factor. Innovator Fellowship will also nurture a talent wishing to carry his journey alone. This step will be done ONSITE in an attractive European city with international flight connections.


September 29th (afternoon)– 2023

The former fellows consider mentoring as one of the best activities of the programme. We will provide high-level, one-on-one mentoring activities to help you shape your idea successfully. Scheduled workshops will be accompanied by structured mentoring to advance the team’s original project via a real working viability frame.


Business Modelling – October 20th (all day) and 21st (morning) – 2023

Business Planning – October 27th (all day) and 28th (morning) – 2023

Step 4 is the core entrepreneurial education training. The training courses are tailor-made, unique, business-driven momentum delivered by highly specialised experts. They will cover areas designed to acquire entrepreneurial and transversal skills to implement your idea. You will broaden your horizons and deepen your competencies, learning how to analyse your idea from different angles to have a viable, financially sustainable, and impactful project/product or service impacting the Food system.


Leadership Skills – November 24th (all day) – 2023

The ability to be an effective leader, and to mobilise human capital efficiently to accomplish a shared goal, goes hand-and-hand with the ability to communicate and inspire others. In Step 5, you will be trained to reach your goals based on responsible management practice and to communicate and pitch your business idea.

Step 6. FINAL PITCH EVENT – | ONSITE | January 16th (morning) – 2024

Per Diem support is foreseen for travel and subsistence.

In the final event, teams will present their business idea to experts and venture capitalists. This programme’s winners will access services for prototyping and/or market analysis and fine-tuning business planning.

Participation Fees

300€ excluding VAT (21%)

Career Opportunities

Global challenges in the Agri-Food system require a mind shift and a thrilling change in the awareness and competencies of talents: the new generation of entrepreneurs are asked to play an instrumental role in solving the planet’s food-related issues. Talents from academia (researchers) and the private agri-food sector (Professionals) are called to boost and diversify their career paths, solve global challenges, and enhance their career prospects.

Innovator Fellowship is a journey designed to expand your career portfolio by providing skills in high demand in the job market. Critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and entrepreneurial abilities can make a difference in your career. When these skills come together with sustainable, circular and innovative business models, they become a powerful tool to solve societal challenges and increase your employability potential.

Moreover, the EIT Food ecosystem is the perfect network to enhance your career prospect, offering further opportunities to develop your business idea.


As researchers, our final question is how we can place our research on the market: every Postdoc can learn how to be an entrepreneur, so go for it!

Matthias Stier, Coordinator of Interfacial Processes, University of Stuttgart

I’d say “Know your numbers”, and i didn’t know mine. There were so many aspects of my business plan that I hadn’t thought about, and now they make so much sense. The trainings help you understand your business so much better.

Niki Alexi, Postdoctoral Researcher at AArthus University Leibnitz

It was a great experience meeting other colleagues from Europe and working with them. The atmosphere created by all the participants was outstanding and the energy of the mentors was vibrant!

Teodora Emilia Coldea, Dep. of Food Engineering Cluj-Napoca University

I appreciated the high level of the speeches and the support of different mentors, they gave us multiple perspectives to analyse our idea, and a great motivation not to give up and to develop a real, viable project.

Line Mielby, Dep. of Food Science, Food Quality Perception & Society Aarhus University

In collaboration with

Programme Leaders

Mario Roccaro
Mario Roccaro
Programme Manager Education at EIT Food HQ
Prof. Paola De Bernardi
Prof. Paola De Bernardi
Professor of Management Control Systems and Circular Economy Management @University of Turin

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