On February 10 and 11, 2022, the FSOLab 2 kicked off the second round of workshops with its many outstanding participants. This time, we had the great pleasure to welcome on board some new high-level professionals, including an expert on research funding from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), specialists from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the coordinator of the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI). We are very grateful to them for their valuable support and guidance before and during the workshop, which was instrumental in moving the pilot action forward. At this point, a big thank you to everyone for all of the efforts and support, and to the entire FSOLab 2 team!
The main focus of the second FSOLab 2 workshop was to narrow down the three pilot ideas developed in the previous workshop into one pilot action for practical implementation. The addition of new experts to the FSOLab 2 team brought new viewpoints, ideas and perspectives to the discussions, with pros and cons debated, leading to the progressive emergence of a more concise vision for our pilot action.
In the course of the workshop, it took shape that the FSOLab 2 pilot will make use of a so-called ´Knowledge Network´. A Knowledge Network is an instrument that has been developed and previously field-tested by FACCE-JPI aiming to bring together a panel of diverse experts, such as research funding agencies, publicly funded research institutions and scientists, policy makers, food safety authorities, and food business operators, through a multi-stakeholder approach. The main objective of a Knowledge Network is to foster international collaboration, knowledge transfer, pooling of resources including the initiation of new funding and further development of thematic capacities, ultimately to address the grand societal challenges or concerns of food safety as a core element of FSOLab 2, respectively the overall FoodSafety4EU project.
The Knowledge Network structure provides also the opportunity to link the activities of two different FSOLabs, more specifically of FSOLab 2 and FSOLab 3, the latter under the leadership of our partners from the International Business Association (IBA) in Romania. Priority food safety issues and needs identified within FSOLab 3 as part of the elaboration of a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) will feed into the work of FSOLab 2. It is intended to bring located pressing food safety issues to the attention of selected national funding bodies in different countries and to demonstrate their need for action, for example by providing adequate research funding or by integrating hitherto unaddressed food safety issues into their national research programs.
The FSOLab 2 pilot mission is to promote better exchange between different funding entities and to raise awareness about relevant topical subjects through the organization of exploratory workshops and personal dialogue, thus enabling better alignment of transnational funding cycles and research priorities as a fundamental part of safe and sustainable food systems.
Now that all members of the FSOLab 2 team have approved the evolving strategy and operational plan, we are ready to start with the implementation of our pilot. Today, we are proud of this achievement and look expectantly to the route ahead, albeit not knowing which challenges we will have to face or which experiences we will gain. Working collaboratively as an FSOLab 2 team, we take on the challenge and bring the pilot experiment to the next level in a hands-on setting!