CASCADE and HELENA - Communication Stars 2011
Europe's top communicators of agri-food research were in the spotlight at the finals of the Communication Star 2011 competition, which took place in Brussels, Belgium on 1 March. The competition recognised EU-funded agri-food research projects that have excelled at communicating their work to a wider audience. CASCADE ('Chemicals as contaminants in the food chain: a NoE [Network of Excellence] for research, risk assessment and education') won the prize in the large projects category, while HELENA ('Healthy lifestyle in Europe by nutrition in adolescence') walked away with the prize for small projects.
The competition was organised by the EU-funded AgriFoodResults ('European initiative for a better use of the results of agri-food research') project, which received just under EUR 1 million under the 'Food, agriculture and fisheries, and biotechnology' Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
The initiative attracted 25 entries, 7 of which made it to the final: 3 in the large projects category, and 4 in the small projects category. The jury, made up of representatives of the food industry, consumer organisations, food researchers, and the media, judged entries on the basis of the quality of the projects' communications plan, its implementation, and impact. Jury member Mella Frewen of the CIAA (Confederation of the food and drink industries of the EU) described judging the entries as a hard task. 'The quality of the applications was really quite impressive,' she said.
Eventually, CASCADE emerged as the winner of the big projects category. Funded to the tune of EUR 14.4 million under the 'Food quality and safety' Thematic area of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), CASCADE set out to study the effects of chemical contaminants in food. CASCADE was a massive project, linking up 24 research groups working on diverse work packages.
The project team placed a strong emphasis on communication right from the start, hiring a full-time communications manager to take the lead on communications and dissemination work. Media training courses taught scientists working in the project to communicate effectively with the press, and the project achieved high levels of press coverage throughout the project.
As well as running its own website, CASCADE established a presence on key social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube as well as on Wikipedia. The project also worked closely with other groups to communicate its findings to policymakers and consumers, for example.
Another important communications outcome of CASCADE is the creation of CommNet, which networks communications managers of EU-funded projects in the agri-food area. As well as providing members with training, CommNet provides a forum where communications managers can share ideas, experience and best practice.
The HELENA project, which received EUR 5 million under the 'Food quality and safety' Thematic area of FP6, won the small projects category. The aim of HELENA was to shed new light on the food intake and eating behaviour as well as the fitness and physical activity levels of European adolescents.
The project's press releases received broad coverage in Europe, while reports, guidebooks, presentations and workshops ensured that the project's findings reached both other scientists and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A stakeholder consultation helped to transmit news from the project to key target audiences. The project's internet-based Food-O-Meter and Activ-O-Meter, which assess teenagers' nutritional and activity status, proved popular with users.
Other projects that made it to the final of the Communication Star 2011 awards were: NovelQ ('Novel processing methods for the production and distribution of high-quality and safe foods'); SEAFOODplus ('Health promoting, safe seafood of high eating quality in a consumer driven fork-to-farm concept'); FLABEL ('Food labelling to advance better education for life'); EU-FRESHBAKE ('Freshly baked breads with improvement of nutritional quality and low energy demanding for the benefit of the consumer and of the environment'); and META-PHOR ('Metabolomic technology applications for plants, health and outreach').
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Category: Project results
Data Source Provider: CORDIS News attendance at the event 'Communication Star 2011: awards for FP6 and FP7 food projects'
Document Reference: Based on CORDIS News attendance at the event 'Communication Star 2011: awards for FP6 and FP7 food projects'
Subject Index: Food; Coordination, Cooperation; Information, Media; Scientific Research; Social Aspects; Agriculture; Resources of the Sea, Fisheries