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Training in Research, Product Developement, Marketing and Sales in Biobusiness

Final Report Summary - BIOBUSINESS (Training in Research, Product Developement, Marketing and Sales in Biobusiness)

The worldwide demand for animal products is expected to increase with more than 40% in the next 15 years. To be able to satisfy this higher demand for meat products, global and EU animal food production are undergoing major transformations that has revealed industrial livestock-related health and welfare problems. Being directly related to population health, such issues need to be resolved. Moreover, the environmental impact of livestock production must be reduced. In this regard, the combination of new technology with biology offers high opportunities for EU in terms of realizing and implementing directives in different applications as well as in economic terms. To develop new products for bioprocesses, the combination of biological knowledge with expertise in technology should be fastened. An obstacle however is that people educated in biology are not aware of the possibilities of modern technology. At the same time, technical people developing technology are not participating to the world of biology, and bioprocesses. The main objective of this project is to train biological educated people (veterinarians, biologists, physiologists, animal scientists, biomedical scientists, etc.) to collaborate with technology driven people and make them familiar with modern technology. This is done by introducing to biological educated people the concepts of Precision Livestock Farming, which is technology for continuous automated monitoring of animals to improve their health, welfare and performance. The expectation is that the application of PLF technology offers innovative solutions for problems of animal welfare and animal health in the European livestock sector. Finally, the training in the project covers research, product definition and development, marketing and sales for bio-(livestock) business in EU and worldwide.

Training activities
Research based training was the heart of the fellow activities within the BioBusiness project. The training programme contained the basic work instruments of research. Furthermore, the industrial partners taught the fellows on important issues in relation to launching a new product. Additional trainings were conducted to teach the fellows about the principles of Precision Livestock Farming (PLF), the application of sensor technology and ethics in livestock production. Within the project, a total number 26 training sessions have been given to all fellows. Next to the common training activities, the fellows received individual trainings at their host institution. The training also included the mobility of the fellows to make them visiting project partners and fellow colleagues to impel the research within the product groups. All eleven fellows carried out the foreseen secondment periods.

Following our objective, 3 specific product areas have been chosen in the domain of Precision Livestock Farming (PLF). The products cover 3 different species (namely chicken embryos, cows and pigs) and are linked with the different production activities of the industrial partners.
In order to realise the different projects on a high professional level 3 product groups have been installed.
1. Product group A implored improved conditions for incubating eggs.
2. Product group B developed a tool for automatic detection of lameness in dairy cows.
3. Product group C developed a tool for automatic monitoring of pig aggression.
In accordance with the work plan, every product group carried out defined work packages to reach the specific product group goals:
• WP 1: Animal health and welfare indicators
• WP 2: Experimentation
• WP 3: Manual labelling
• WP 4: Algorithm development
• WP 5: Field testing
All product groups realised WP 1 to WP 3 and performed experiments according to the specific objectives of each product group. The labelling of the experimental data had been done and based on this the product groups enhanced knowledge and developed algorithms according to their scientific goals (WP 4). The chicken group, for instance, worked on the long-term effect of the incubation process on broiler chickens and used a tracking algorithm to monitor the behaviour of hatched chickens on longer term. The cow group developed an algorithm to automatically quantify lameness in dairy cows The pig group developed an aggression detection algorithm but could not validate it in the field. However, besides the algorithm they developed a method to stop undesired behaviour, such as aggression, by using the animal's own intelligence. The chicken group invested more resources in depth research to understand different aspects of the incubation process and investigate long term effects of incubation on the development and animal welfare of broiler chickens. The incubation conditions were investigated on small scale (RVC) and then implemented on a bigger scale (ANSES) close to practical conditions. The long term effect of incubation conditions on broiler performance and welfare was also investigated under conditions close to practice.
The project results and other project activities were disseminated to a wider community. In total, the fellows realised 17 published or accepted scientific peer reviewed articles, 61 oral presentations and posters on conferences. 3 articles were published online or printed in a farmer’s magazine. Additionally, the consortium published 6 newsletters, 2 articles in the International Innovation Journal and 1 article in Global Scientia.

Workshop and conference
In accordance with the time line of the project, a kick off meeting and 3 scientific workshops were organised and held in Leuven/ Belgium (12/01/2010), Celle/ Germany (16-18/11/2010), Brussel/ Belgium (5-9/09/2011) and Paestum/ Italy (10-13/09/2012). The final conference was organised and held in Leuven/ Belgium (10-12/09/2013).
The workshops were summarised in 3 workshop proceedings. The content of presentations and posters presented at the final conference and be found in theconference proceedings containing about 110 scientific papers of researchers from all over the world. The BioBusiness fellows contributed 11 presentations or posters to this conference.

The final project results are supposed to lead to a series of benefits in the immediate and longer term centered on excellent multi-and interdisciplinary training and career progression for the eleven ESRs and expanding these capacities to industry and the academic and research institutions involved. Additionally, the wide-ranging interaction among the participants is very strong and does cover a wide range of research fields, surrounding livestock farming and technology. It is likely that both intensive and extensive farming will flourish in the future as the world population grows and consumers become reconnected and concerned with the ethics of food production. Developing technological tools that respond to the animal itself and offer farmers more information enhances management decisions in any production system – truly serving farmers, consumers and the animals that sustain.