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Another start of the EWA program in Lithuania: very strong innovators will compete this year

Dar viena EWA programos pradžia Lietuvoje: šiemet varžysis labai stiprios inovatorės

The contribution of women is extremely significant to agri-food innovation and sustainable development, but there are still too few opportunities for them to demonstrate leadership in this sector. EIT Food's "EWA – Empowering Women in Agrifood " program aims to change the situation and promote the potential of innovative, entrepreneurial women to be at the forefront of future-changing solutions. This week, she officially started in Lithuania for the third time. Innovators are waiting for half a year of working with experienced mentors in order to achieve personal growth, refinement of ideas or strengthening of startups. Cash prizes for the best.

The bar for participant applications is as high as ever

The activities of EIT Food are supported by the EU institution European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The project initiated by the world's largest and most dynamic food innovation community is traditionally coordinated in our country by the cluster and digital innovation center "AgriFood Lithuania". Its success and need is revealed by the growing number of applicants – if in 2021 20 women expressed their desire to become part of EWA, this year almost 50 applied.

Not only that, but most of the applications were extremely strong. For this reason, according to Kristina Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė, general director of AgriFood Lithuania and ambassador of the EWA program in Lithuania, the competent commission of external experts and representatives of EIT Food faced a significant challenge in selecting the top ten.

"For those who got in, I wish you to make the most of the extraordinary opportunity you have received and not to lose motivation in the next stage: grow the baggage of knowledge, practical experience, self-belief and ambition." The experience of previous years shows that for anyone who puts in enough effort, the program can become a fatal springboard to success even if she does not become a prizewinner", K. Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė motivated the new EWA protégés at the opening event.

AgriFood Lithuania General Director Kristina Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė.

in 2024 Agnė Vaitiekūnaitė, Viktorija Šiukščiūtė, Aistė Leonaitienė, Bozena Lazovska, Inga Matulytė, Ugnė Dirdaitė, Paulina Jonutė, Greta Budreikė, Ingrida Kuprevičiūtė, Urtė Raubytė became EWA participants this year.

Mentoring of business, science and public sector representatives

The organizers of the program invited the women who passed the selection from all over Lithuania to a festive start at the Pacų hotel in the capital. Here, the participants received detailed information about the EIT Food community, an opportunity to get to know each other and the experts accompanying the entire program, and to present their ideas in more detail. After the joint meeting, the first active personal consultations with mentors began.

The list of experts was formed according to the skills and knowledge that the participants who entered the program wanted to acquire. All professionals are leaders with a wide profile in their fields, willing to share their expertise and practical guidelines for women who want to implement innovative ideas.

The opening moment of EWA 2024 in Lithuania.

The mentors will be represented by the administrative director of "Kauno grūdas" Jelena Ramanauskienė, associate professor of KTU Faculty of Economics and Business, co-founder and head of the "Neuromarketing and artificial intelligence" laboratory in California and Vilnius Eglė Vaičiūkynaitė, senior researcher of the Lithuanian Agricultural and Forestry Center (LAMMC), " Director of Biofita, dr. Aistė Balčiūnaitienė, director of "Varėnas Pienelio" Jolanta Kuzminienė, VU Business School lecturer Inga Juozapavičienė, director of "Sibena" belonging to "Vikonda Group" Gintarė Alčiauskienė. Also Ignas Šlapkauskas, manager of the EIC program of the "Lietuvos innovacių centro", Justas Stanys, head of the business development and innovation service of "Kaunos grūdas", Algirdas Augustinas, commercial director of "Vikedas" and general manager of "Švenčionių vaistažolių", "Acorus Calamus", "Vision DEM4" head of the scientific research and development department of the laboratory, VU lecturer Elmantas Pocevičius.

For six months, EWA participants will develop their business ideas with the help of the aforementioned experts, and in November they will present their progress at Agromaisto Forum 2024. The three who have demonstrated the fastest progress will share 18,000. EUR, which will help to successfully develop a young business. The cash prize for the third place was established this year by the partners of the program Kauno grūdai.

About EIT Food

It is the world's largest and most dynamic food innovation community. By accelerating innovation, it contributes to the development of a system that meets the needs of the future and ensures healthy and sustainable food for all.

Supported by the EU-based European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), EIT Food invests in projects, organizations and individuals who share the vision of a healthier and more sustainable food system. The organization reveals the innovative potential of companies and universities, establishes agri-food start-ups and expands their activities in order to offer new technologies and products to the market. It gives entrepreneurs and other specialists in their field the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to transform the food system, and the focus of the activity is on consumers, who are helped to rediscover the origin of their food.

EIT Food is one of the nine innovation communities established by the EIT, an independent EU institution that started in 2008. and is designed to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe. Learn more at www.eitfood.eu and follow us on X , Facebook , LinkedIn , YouTube , Instagram .

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