There are several unique necessities and opportunities to be considered when implementing innovation in traditional food producing SMEs. To stay true to the product, SMEs are advised to retain low processing of their products. At the same time - to reduce costs and to comply with regulatory requirements - new, efficient and sustainable methods have to be employed. Communicating the quality, excellence and added value of traditional food products, together with a guarantee for their microbiological safety through up-to-date production protocols, will present a major step forward. However, there are several obstacles and challenges to be overcome in the successful transfer of knowledge from knowledge providers like universities or research centers to the manufacturer of traditional food products.

The application of classic donor → receiver models have shown that knowledge donor constraints grow from the assumption that the highest own benefit of knowledge is lost through sharing it with others, as well as the lack of ability to transfer the knowledge to non-specialists, lack of face-to-face contact to industry partners and barriers due to languages and cultural differences. On the side of knowledge receiving entities, most common barriers are being overwhelmed with too many information sources, inadequate structure of information, lack of trust in the knowledge donor, lack of structures for knowledge processing, lack of knowledge concerning the know-how transfer process and difficulties due to language and cultural differences.

It needs to be ensured that the new knowledge fits to the requirements of the SMEs and that they in fact can be implemented and lead to actual innovations. To ensure that the proposed innovations fit the requirements, a closer involvement of the companies in the whole process is necessary. To break-up the uni-directional cycle of donor vs. receiver, TRAFOON will apply a multi-component approach, where all concerned parties are involved in the whole innovation process chain. Main emphasis will be put on the in-depth interaction between SMEs and research institutions. This interaction will involve the knowledge transfer of technical innovations and facilitation of entrepreneurship by implementing suitable marketing strategies including legal aspects. The project will establish sustainable project networks of stakeholders in food production chains of traditional food products in the four food categories.