With more than €1 million in EU research funding, the ‘Champi-ON’ initiative will develop a fully automated system for picking mushrooms to be sold fresh. Thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network, a small Cyprus-based firm will play a key role in the project.
Based in Nicosia, GeoImaging provides a wide range of services and consulting in the field of geoinformatics including cartography, satellite navigation and related fields.
In its quest for research funding, the SME GeoImaging turned to the branch of the Enterprise Europe Network based in the Cypriot capital at the Research Promotion Foundation. With close to 600 partner organisations in 49 countries, the Network helps entrepreneurs tap into EU funding and connects them with the right partners for successful projects.
Through the Enterprise Europe Network, GeoImaging got word of a Spanish-led research project to develop a new high-tech mushroom-picking device. Now one of eight partners in Champi-ON, GeoImaging will supply imaging technology for mushrooms to be sold fresh rather than canned.
These mushrooms are currently harvested by hand due to the high quality standards required by this product. Hand picking burdens producers with a cost of up to 46% of their total production costs, so technological innovation is necessary to maintain competitiveness and keep an acceptable margin. The automatic picker will use computer imaging to choose mushrooms deemed suitable for the fresh market and then pick them using a robotic arm, reducing the required labour for harvesting and handling fresh mushrooms by 80% and thereby cutting costs.
Stratos Styliandis, who founded GeoImaging in 2002, says the new research collaboration will allow his firm to expand its partnership network and eventually bring a new product to market. “It is important for local companies to operate in an international cooperative environment,” he says.
“Since the Enterprise Europe Network was founded, we have been helping GeoImaging with applications for national and EU research programmes,” says Christakis Theocharous, the Network’s scientific officer in Cyprus. “Whenever they need anything, they just call us.” So far, GeoImaging has secured EU funding for five projects in different sectors.