Two local companies, Athlone-based Georgia Tech Ireland and System Label, based in Roscommon, are working together to develop smart packaging for the food industry.
The two businesses are collaborating with 14 partner businesses and universities from eight EU countries on the project, and hosted a mid-term project meeting in Athlone this week, which was attended by Minister of State for Small Business, John Perry.
The three-year European research project, entitled SusFoFlex, involves the development of smart packaging for the food industry, using flexible printed electronics and advanced materials technologies. The goal of the project is to enable active, intelligent, and sustainable food packaging, which will ensure the safety and quality of food.
Georgia Tech Ireland is bringing its expertise in RFID (radio frequency identification ) to the project, while System Label is a leader in the area of innovative printing and packaging technologies.
General manager of Georgia Tech Ireland, Joe Dowling, explained: “The idea is to be able to track food from farm to fork. This technology would be able to sense the quality of the food, to determine whether it has been kept at the correct temperature range through its whole cycle. It would wirelessly detect when the food goes off, with the use of a smartphone or ‘smart fridge’ for example.”
Managing director of System Label, Niall O’Shea, says the labelling would enable more precise expiry dates, as well as cut down on food wastage, and could be used by both shopkeepers and consumers.
Georgia Tech Ireland employs 10 people in Athlone, and System Label employs 34 people in Roscommon.