Project Overview

About the SIMBA Project

SIMBA (Sustainable Innovation of Microbiome Applications in the Food System) is a European innovation project, funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 Funding Programme, which provides a holistic and innovative approach to the development of microbial solutions to increase food and nutrition security. SIMBA focuses in particular on the identification of viable land and aquatic microbiomes that can assist in the sustainability of European agro- and aquaculture.

Project at a glance

PROGRAMME: Horizon2020
TYPE OF ACTION: Innovation Action (IA)
DURATION: Nov 2018 - Oct 2022
CONSORTIUM: 23 partners in 11 European countries
COORDINATOR: Natural Resource Institute Finland (Luke)

The Challenge

A critical global challenge facing society is the threat of food insecurity, which is compounded by population growth and climate change. In coastal areas, arable land is due to decrease as a result of rising sea levels in coastal areas, while other regions experience freshwater shortages as a result of drought or pollution.Crop production is often reliant on chemical fertilisers which can harm the environment. In marine ecosystems, natural fish populations are being threatened by overfishing, while fish farms that are inadequately managed can potentially have negative environmental impacts. Creating a sustainable food system is important for European economy and society. Research has contributed valuable knowledge about the potential of microbial systems, or microbiomes, throughout the food chain. Microbiomes are known to regulate the productivity and health of major food sources across land and sea, and therefore can play a positive role in food production, food and nutrition security, ultimately influencing human health. A better understanding of the microbiomes associated with the food system would help address a number of key societal challenges such as: food and nutrition security, health and wellbeing, food waste, the sustainable management of natural resources, and climate change.

Project Objectives

Focusing on crop production and aquaculture the SIMBA project intends to:

  • Get a better understanding of microbiome structures and functions, related to land and sea related food chains;
  • Verify the sustainability of microbial innovations of the food systems as a whole;
  • Create a better EU Agro-Aqua-Food system that is resource efficient, climate resilient, sustainable and consumer centred;
  • Improve the overall knowledge of microbiomes from land and sea towards the market needs in areas where applicability and readiness is not yet visible;
  • Bring new and cost-effective commercial applications to the market that assist different stages and processes throughout the food chain by 2025

Expected Results

  • An open access central database containing microbiome data useful for EU food production;
  • Up-scaled crop production: delivery of selected microbial consortia on crop yield, food quality and plant health;
  • Deepen understanding of the effect of microbiome composition on high quality algal biomass, fish health and saline agriculture
  • Delivery of 1-2 designed starter cultures originating from characterized microbiomes to be applied in food and feed products
  • Understand the inter-individual differences in the function of the gut microbiota, its interaction with diet/foods and how all this affects health outcomes
  • Solutions to perform better environmentally, as well as economically and socially