Call4Application: CIHEAM Bari and Almacube are looking for innovators!

At GECO, we promote sustainability all-year-long, especially when we have the opportunity to connect innovators and enterprises, and help our partners. Today, we are delighted to present a call for application by our Smart Talk partner Almacube, in collaboration with CIHEAM Bari, whose goal it is to discover the next revolutionary technology that will change the agricultural sector.

Who can apply

This call for application is open to Italian and international startups, spin-offs, research centres and individual professionals working in the fields of agritech, circular economy, sustainable packaging and cleantech. If you fall within these categories and think you can meet the challenges raised by the companies in the CIHEAM Bari community, this is your opportunity to shine!

Innovation areas

Think you have something to contribute? Fill in the application form and join now! The deadline for application is Sunday, June the 12th 2022, at 11.59 PM (CEST). Your project needs to fall within one of these categories


The cultivation and processing of fruit and vegetables as well as the food industry generate a variety of byproducts that are completely edible but otherwise unfit for sale to the consumer. We are looking for projects that explore new ways of using substandard or discarded products (shells, leaves, hulls, etc.), fresh or expiring food products (from catering activities) and that can generate high value in different business areas (e.g. health, nutrition and leisure) while ensuring long-term profitability and supply chain sustainability.

Circular economy - Clean energy for the agricultural processing/cultivation

Environmentally and sustainability-conscious companies today come up against technological limitations in the processing part due to energy-intensive processes that are often powered by non-green energy. We are looking for projects that explore new processes and technologies for renewable energy production and/or energy efficiency in agriculture, with a focus on new trends such as agro-photovoltaics, micro-wind power, accumulators, etc.

Circular economy – sustainable packaging

Companies that are particularly concerned about sustainability and the environment nowadays come up against technological limitations when it comes to packaging, often being forced to use plastic or non-recyclable wrapping. We are looking for projects that develop new packaging methods and technologies, through the use of organic and compostable materials ( preferably made from waste from food manufacturing processes), recyclable or reusable packaging, and technologies to improve the reuse of glass bottles.

Smart farming

Crop farming can be significantly improved through automation and the collection of timely, real-time data. We are looking for innovative tools to support decision-making in agriculture, and solutions to automate operations, with a particular focus on data collection via IoT sensors, tools that can be easily installed and connected with agricultural machinery, solutions that can preventively identify crop diseases, and tools that help achieve maximum efficiency in the use of resources such as water and energy.

Business - New Product Lines / Manufacturing Processes

Fruit-growing companies often find themselves forced to restrict their business to the sale of unprocessed produce. We are looking for projects that explore new uses of crop production (from fruit/seeds to byproducts and waste) for the development and commercialisation of new edible (e.g. nut cream) and non-edible (e.g. knitwear, paper) product lines.

What you stand to gain

The selected innovators will join in an acceleration and co-design programme, together with some of the SMBS involved in the project. They will get to collaborate with local businesses, receive training and mentoring for product development, and develop innovative Solution Concepts responding to the Innovation Challenge. Once the programme is completed, the participating SMBS and CIHEAM Bari will evaluate the possibility of creating a Proof of Concept that may lead to collaboration opportunities for the worthier candidates. This is not only a chance for innovators and startups to gain visibility, but also to establish themselves as tech providers and acquire potential clients in a selected entrepreneurial environment. Moreover, Almacube experts will help candidate to improve their project by applying design-thinking principles to their development. Applicants admitted to the acceleration and co-design programme (maximum 5) will receive a sum of EUR 2,000.

The Challenge

CIHEAM is a international centre for advanced agronomic studies in the Mediterranean, comprising 13 Countries, whose aim it is to promote the exchange of knowledge and foster agritech innovation. This challenge was launched by the CIHEAM headquarters in Bari, Italy, in collaboration with innovation hub Almacube, as part of the Organic Ecosystem Innovation Program, which is design to promote collaboration among local SMBs and national and international innovators. A first batch of applicants will be pre-selected after the established deadline and by July 12th. Those chosen to pass the second selection will meet with the companies involved in the project and their proposals will be evaluated. This process will determine a maximum of 5 top projects to be admitted to the acceleration and co-design part of the programme. Each selected top project will be assigned an innovation coach and be included in a hybrid project team with experts from the relevant companies. The design-thinking meetings will require approximately 2 – 4 hours of work per week. This second phase ends with the drafting of a technical/commercial proposal for the implementation of the innovative technology in the SMB supply chain. The solutions developed by the 5 teams are presented during the big closing event "Innovation Day" (November 2022). At the end of the programme, the participating SMBs will evaluate all the resulting projects and proposals and each will be free to offer a Proof-of-concept contract to one or more of the innovators taking part in the challenge.

How to apply

Before you apply, please read the application guidelines here. In order to be considered for this project, candidates will need to fill in the application form and submit it before 11.59 PM (CEST) on June 12th 2022.

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Published on 20-05-2022