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Food 4.0 funding programme: Innovative project ideas for a sustainable Swiss food system

Zurich, 22. February 2024


This year's call for proposals to promote innovative projects in the Swiss food system met with great interest. A panel of experts selected the six most promising projects from the 30 submitted. These will now receive financial support.

In the Food 4.0 programme, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, under the leadership of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences SATW, support innovative project ideas that are at the very beginning of development. In particular, the programme supports projects that demonstrate new perspectives for the successful development of the Swiss food system.


The following projects were supported:

  • Protein-packed pits: Fermentation concepts for plant-based yogurt alternatives made from lactic acid-fermented apricot seeds; Dr. Lisamaria Bracher, BFH
  • Measuring system for in-line characterisation of structured plant/hybrid protein food texture as part of value chain digitalisation; Dr. Adrian Tica, ETH Zürich
  • Waste2Taste: Hybrid protein food from the fermentation of okara with fungi; Prof. Tiffany Abitbol, EPFL
  • ProOH – Cohesion process for novel, sustainable, protein-rich and vegetarian foods; Dr. Matthias Kinner, ZHAW
  • Alcohol-free beer without sugar: ‘Beer Zero’; Dr. Kim Mishra, ETH Zürich
  • Machine-learning models for the detection of bacterial contamination in the food industry; Marwan El Chazli, EPFL


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Innovative projects for sustainable nutrition and food processing

In one of the supported projects, scientists from EPFL's Laboratory for Sustainable Materials, led by Prof Tiffany Abitbol, are working with by-products of tofu and soya milk production. They are investigating how these products - known as okara in technical jargon - which today often end up in animal feed or waste, can be fermented using edible fungi and thus utilised for human nutrition.


Another project, led by Dr Adrian Tica from the Institute for Sustainable Food Processing at ETH Zurich, is developing a machine learning model to better detect bacterial contamination in food. This will help to prevent food waste and improve the use of digitalisation in companies.


The Brewdaz association brewery's project in Zurich is all about health: it wants to produce a non-alcoholic beer without sugar and thus bring a healthy alternative to conventional non-alcoholic beer onto the market. Sugar is replaced by water-soluble dietary fibres (NFs) in this drink. However, NFs cause undesirable clouding or an unusual aftertaste, among other things, which is why no such products are currently available on the market. A basic understanding of the relationship between NFs and mouthfeel will be developed in this project and a first market prototype will be realised.

Successful conclusion of the first round of tenders

The projects in the first round of the Food 4.0 programme have already been completed and the project results are available. A new cheese made from lupin and cow's milk has been produced by an Agroscope team led by Helena Stoffers. The product has met with positive feedback in consumer tests and has the potential to be further produced in local cheese dairies. Dr Kim Mishra from the Brewdaz association brewery was able to demonstrate in his project that spent grain - a by-product of beer production - can be used as a foodstuff without further ado and does not have to end up as animal feed. Thanks to a project by Dr Claudio Beretta at the ZHAW, a mass flow and life cycle assessment model now exists that can be used to prioritise measures to reduce food waste. Dr Christoph Denkel from BFH and his team were able to gain important insights into the influence of harvesting on the undesirable beany flavour of peas.

Why do the academies support these projects?

The Europe-wide trend towards cheap food is particularly affecting small and medium-sized businesses in Switzerland. They generally have to pay higher wages and higher production costs than their competitors abroad and are falling behind as a result. In order to strengthen the Swiss food system and equip it for the future, the federal government has commissioned the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences to promote transdisciplinary and innovative projects. 


Switzerland is well on the way to becoming a leading foodtech centre. The Swiss inventive spirit, the lively scene of start-ups and spin-offs and the competitive research that is well networked with industry all contribute to this. The six projects that have now been selected are an expression of this dynamic. 


Swiss Academies of Engineering Sciences
St. Annagasse 18
8001 Zurich


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