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Fifth trend: security and traceability

Innovation / -

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The traceability of agriculturally produced food products is an increasingly significant issue both for institutions and private subjects. The use of mobile devices enables the monitoring of various phases of the supply chain and ensures respect for food safety standards and traceability. Many new evaluation techniques have been developed using sensing devices. The use of a single category of technique or a combination makes it possible to cover the challenges of a wide range of food sector problems.


Cryptobrand, putting its name on the line for security

Innovation / -

Con la app di Cryptobrand è possibile verificare l'autenticità di un prodotto attraverso un tag

The start-up founded in 2013 and active within the Speed Me Up a business incubator, uses the principle of the digital signature to guarantee the authenticity of any product, verifiable by a purchaser via an app.

The fight against food counterfeiting (to protect consumers and not lose precious revenue) is an age-old game, but technological experimentation is drawing new life from the spread of smartphones and tablets which allow anyone to have a comfortable 'detector' in their pocket or handbag. And Cryptobrand, a mobile app-based solution, is just that. This start-up - incubated at the Company Accelerator Speed Me Up (developed in Milan at the Bocconi University, with the Municipality and the Chamber of Commerce) - proposes a new digital platform to provide certified and guaranteed information.
The principle is that of the digital signature, normally used for digital documents: identification is made by applying specific labels (tags) whose content is encrypted by Cryptobrand. Customers are able, through the app on their mobile devices, to read the data of the document or product compared with those contained in the tag (even offline). They can also access in real-time the Cryptobrand portal or web address of the manufacturer for further information or services.

An idea born by chance
The idea came about quite by chance in 2010 following a tax inspection: the Italian inland revenue had asked the current director of the start-up to verify a tax return made five years earlier, requiring the presentation of a number of paper documents in original. "This gave him the idea of a 'digital seal' that would allow immediate verification of all paper documents even after many years - explains Roberto Pittia, General Manager and Co-Founder of Cryptobrand -. Its applicability, from verifiying the originality of a paper document to protecting a product sold in a store or on the web, was almost immediate: and the patent application was presented that year."

In June 2013, the start-up won the competition to enter Speed Me Up and here a digital platform was created for tracking 'brand to end' in real time of documents and products, immediately and easily usable by different categories of users.
In October 2013 the company was founded by three partners (the fourth will arrive soon).
The system makes it virtually impossible to distribute counterfeit products on a large scale, but also original products not authorized by the brand (for example, those removed unlawfully). In case of theft, the company can simplymap the missing codes and track them at the time of transaction, just as if they were marked banknotes.
Compared with other systems, Cryptobrand's invention has the advantage of not requiring the physical object for verification of authenticity, thus ensuring even online purchases. "In the world of e-commerce - continues Pittia - we want to position ourselves next to the most popular security systems already adopted in digital shopping, those of certification domains and certified payments, offering the missing link, or a system of certification products."

A versatile system applicable in many fields
Cryptobrand uses a mix of technologies recently introduced, adding the guarantee of a technical / commercial partnership with an approved certification body (CA - Certification Authority). The industrial process on which Cryptobrand is based is covered by an Italian patent released in August 2013 and the issuance of the European patent is being approved.

Cryptobrand was a finalist at the Unicredit Start Lab in September 2014 and the EIT ICT Labs of Trento last November. At the moment, the start-up is working especially in the area of documentation and fashion, but food is more than ever a target area for the foreseeable future.
"We presented our solution also to the National Council of Anti-Counterfeiting (which belongs to the Italian Ministry of Economic Development - explains Pittia - because of the fact that our system is particularly versatile, making it interesting for a multi-sectoral framework like the food sector. We are talking with different food consortia and with the Department of anti-counterfeiting of the Grande Milano Research Center so that we are ready to present some interesting case studies for the opening 

Tracing food with Safety for Food

Innovation / -

Cisco is mapping Italian DOC and DOCG wines to make information available through a new QR code label that can be read with a smartphone.

Who wouldn’t like to buy a bottle of wine? And to know in real time not only the producer, but also the vine from which grapes were grown to produce it? This scenario is closer to reality than we think, thanks to QR codes on our smartphone (which by now we all have in our pockets) which provide a raft of information. It is a vehicle that is already widely used by companies in advertising, but is also opening up a world of possibilities in the field of food safety. In international markets, in fact, a guarantee of the provenance of food that we cook does not serve simply to satisfy a careful consumer’s curiosity, but is an additional defense against counterfeiting and a quick tool to reconstruct and limit damage from potential contaminations. Indeed, the related costs of such issues are not insignificant, judging by one recent scandal, where traces of horse meat were found in beef preparations, and in that particular instance, its estimated economic impact reached €1 billion in Europe alone. (source: Coldiretti).

A project with three objectives
To explore the potential of new technologies is Cisco Italia, which together with its partner Penelope, is promoting Safety for Food, an initiative involving Expo 2015 S.p.A., Italy’s Ministries of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and Health; the Italian National Institute of Health; Italia sostenibile per azioni, (A Sustainable Italy for Actions), Agenzia per l’Italia digitale (Agency for Digital Italy), and the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan.
"It is a project with three objectives - says Michael Festuccia, Head of Solution LED with Cisco Italy; the first, to build consensus and awareness on the issues of traceability as a pillar of food safety. The second, to create a virtuous cycle that helps spread best practices in this field; and finally, there is the area that we will deal with more directly, that is the creation of a worldwide database of food products. "This technology platform - with the contribution of the Italian company, Penelope - will enable the industry sector, governing bodies and consumers everywhere to obtain a complete tracking and tracing of products, in line with international rules and standards for the safety, quality and origin of food.
Wine, Italy's flagship 
"We began with wine - continues Festuccia – as the flagship of the Italian agri-food sector, and among others, the entities that manage DOC and DOCG certification are already cutting-edge in terms of their organization and rules. So far we have mapped 75% of the 33,000 DOC and DOCG producers certified by Valoritalia."
Through the QR code, you can also obtain a genome analysis of the vines and the grapes used and the precise area of the vineyard from which it was gathered: all this is information that builds awareness among consumers and gets them more involved in the purchasing process.
The positive side of the project is how limited costs are, given that once information is catalogued, it is meant to be made available to the Ministry and certification bodies. "The biggest obstacle, however, is the digital divide - admits Festuccia - that mainly affects SMEs, the backbone of the food sector. The project is therefore an opportunity to speed up the digitization of Italian companies."

Avoiding fakes
But can we be sure that the label can't be copied? "Although we plan to have a system of encryption and codes that make scams really difficult, the world of IT is constantly changing and information security requires constant updates - says Festuccia -. In practice, there is no killer application against counterfeiting. The real secret to protecting food production, in my opinion, is to add value to Italian production. The QR code makes it possible to tell more rounded and compelling stories and to foster a culture around our products, winning back credibility and space in the marketplace."

The database will be Cisco’s contribution to the scientific community, from the moment the CNR, Italy's National Research Council, takes its place at the helm, coordinating all those who are working on traceability. Even before the start of Expo Milano 2015, the scientific community will have a means of meeting "online", to share and provide common paths of collaboration, and will be able to ratify an "Agribusiness Charter of Constitution": a document with guidelines and best practices for food safety, to be offered to the world as a legacy of the Universal Exposition.

Over a million people are already #FoodConscious. What about you?

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