Home/Our Courses/Inspire – Digital Technologies in the Food System

Course information

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.

Innovations in technology and data science are forecasted to play an important role in transforming our food system.

  • Level: Beginner

  • Course duration: 5 weeks

  • Start date: 01/11/2023
    End date: 01/12/2023

  • Online and Belfast, Northern Ireland

  • Language: English
  • Certificate of completion

The Digital Technologies course 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.

Over the course of 3 weeks, participants will navigate the complex landscape of data analytics and AI and unlock digital innovation.

Develop by EIT Food, in collaboration with Bavarian State Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry, Lund University, BGI, and Queen’s University of Belfast, will provide a high-quality course where students will:

  • 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 position of the consortium in the UK, EU and global stage on research, knowledge and expertise in food security, food systems and digital technologies, is a key element, especially the lead partner, QUB’s internationally renowned expertise in food integrity through the Institute of Global Food Security coupled with their Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technologie’s world leading expertise and reputation in secure connected intelligence.

The 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.

The Digital Technologies course is designed for individuals that are passionate to transform our food system into a fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly food system for all.

We are looking for aspiring entrepreneurs with a keen interest in the digital technologies which could transform the sector, who would love to produce innovative potential business ideas to revolutionise the industry: e.g., Agriculture, Marine Biology, Aquaculture, Food Sciences, Engineering, Business / Marketing, Informatics and Computational Science, among others. Ideally,  Master Students, PhD students, Posts-Docs, young professionals, or aspiring entrepreneurs interested in food systems and digital technologies.

The course has two options that applicants can choose from:

  • Online only course
  • Full course (online and in-person week in Belfast)

What will you learn?

You will learn the following competencies:

  • Food Systems:
    • Analyse the food system using a range of systems approaches to appraise current and future sustainability challenges.
    • Implement 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:
    • Appraise the problem space to identify current and future needs.
    • Mobilise effective methodologies to generate new ideas.
    • Appraise the validity of new ideas and co-create sustainable solutions.
  • Critical Thinking:
    • Collect, analyse, interpret and report information to develop sustainable solutions to current and future challenges.
    • Appraise unintended consequences of any course of action to devise ethical goals.
  • 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
  • Data management:
    • Implement effective data management protocols.
    • Recognise the importance of data security measures.
    • Identify key unintended consequences of the use of information technologies.
  • Technology management
    • Competently use appropriate technologies to contribute to food system innovations.
    • Appraise the relevance of emerging technologies in a particular work or study context.
    • Identify key unintended consequences of the use of emerging technologies.
    • Recognise the importance of IPR management.

Structure & Modules

Over the course of 3 weeks, the participants will navigate the complex landscape of data analytics and AI and unlock digital innovation. The participants will also receive entrepreneurship and innovation training to develop a solution to challenges faced by the industry.

The course will include three modules with the following learning objectives:

  1. Module 1 – The Food System: Outline the challenges in the food system: from feeding a growing population, the competition for resources, climate change and the complexity of the global food chain to the triple burden of malnutrition
  2. Module 2 – Digital technologies in the food system: Provide training on applying data science, artificial intelligence and digital technologies across the agri-food chain to address local, national and global challenges within the sector and current limitations.
  3. Module 3: Digital Technologies Make-a-thon: Increase entrepreneurial, innovation and deep tech skills


The inspire participants will be assessed against the learning outcomes through

Formative Assessment:

  • Problem-Solution Fit: Live presentation and feedback
  • Solution- Market Fit: Live presentation and feedback
  • Food Systems & Aquaculture Sector: End of course quiz on Canvas

Summative Assessment:

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


Participation Fees

The course has two options that applicants can choose from:

Full course (online and in-person week in Belfast)

  • Early-bird fee (Until 08/10/2023): 100€ (VAT excl.)
  • Normal fee (applications accepted until 23/10/2023): 350€ (VAT excl.)

Online only course

  • Early-bird fee (Until 08/10/2023): 65€ (VAT excl.)
  • Normal fee (applications accepted until 23/10/2023): 150€ (VAT excl.)

There are free places for people on parental leave; people unemployed or employed, but on a low income and people living in rural areas. Get in touch with mariana.fazenda@eitfood.eu to get your free code. No questions will be asked and no explanation is required.

For group bookings get in touch with at inspire@eitfood.eu to discuss our discounted offer for group bookings with over 10 participants (including charities, students, and organisation interested in bulk places).

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
  • 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.

In collaboration with

Programme Leaders

Stephane Durand
Stephane Durand
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Manager, IGFS
Michaela Fox
Michaela Fox
AgriFood Business Development Manager for Momentum 1.0 within QUB
Shannon McLaughlin
Shannon McLaughlin
Research Fellow in Sustainable Food Systems, IGFS

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