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Multidisciplinary approach to strengthen cooperation and establish novel platform for comprehensive assessment of food and feed safety

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MultiCoop (Multidisciplinary approach to strengthen cooperation and establish novel platform for comprehensive assessment of food and feed safety)

Reporting period: 2017-04-01 to 2018-12-31

Challenge

Food and feed safety is frequently compromised by the occurrence of chemical contaminants in food and feed. From the most important ones, mycotoxins, toxins of higher plants, pesticides residues, environmental contaminants, or processing contaminants can be given as examples.
The list of above mentioned toxic and bioactive compounds is already monitored today by using ever more sophisticated analytical methods for enhancing sensitivity and precision. However, purely analytical methods do not consider the biological effects of such compounds, and cannot fully answer the question of food safety. This can be achieved through the various types of in vitro or in vivo biological activity assessments. The toxicity of a compound on cellular health is complex. To date, there have been very few studies reported that have tried to determine the risk to human health following exposure to such cocktails of chemical contaminants. Determination of the combined toxicity of mixtures of contaminants is extremely complicated task, and new in vitro approaches have started to be addressed.
The main interests for substantial knowledge transfer are innovation in the field of analytical chemistry incorporating holistic analytical approach for analytical methods for targeted analysis of contaminants and health beneficial compounds, analytical approaches for non-targeted screening and metabolomic fingerprinting/profiling, and methods for identification of important metabolomic markers. Furthermore, interests in fit-for-purpose methods for assessment of currently unknown risks resulting from presence of mixtures of chemical contaminants in food and feed and novel approaches used in bioprospecting, a new tool for uncovering important natural resources for improving health, are included.

Project objectives

The principal objective of MultiCoop is transfer of competences, techniques and technologies among the three Universities, one from widening country (VSCHT) and two internationally-leading counterparts (QUB and BOKU), resulting in strengthening of overall scientific and innovation capacity in transnational scientific collaboration in food and feed safety research.
The MultiCoop project will achieve this by fulfilling the following specific objectives:
1. To increase an expertise of project partners in the field of food and feed safety assessment by organizing series of trainings and mobilities
2. To disseminate and communicate outcomes achieved by raising scientific capacity in the field of food and feed safety assessment through the wide range of activities
3. To disseminate outcomes achieved by raising scientific capacity in the field of food and feed safety assessment by writing the common scientific papers
4. To identify recommendations for research topics resulting in preparation of common projects proposals
5. To help in enhancing of researchers´ profile as well as competences particularly of the institution from widening country
Progress

1. Training activities
To strengthen the competences in scientific activities of the project partners, the training and exchange program was proposed at the beginning of the project and was continuously updated according to the research needs of each partner to reach a maximal gain in an expertise improvement. Numerous short-term trainings, mobility activities, training workshops and training schools have been organized according to the plan. Acquirement of new knowledge and enhancement of attendees´ competence(s) in the specific research area will lead to improving the competition of the trainees on the job market in both research and business areas, and will help the participants to realize their own research ideas in the future.

2. Dissemination and communication activities
To ensure the project results have the largest impact and sustainability on the target communities the MultiCoop Dissemination and Communication Strategy has been developed at the project beginning. All project partners cooperated closely to achieve the plan and contributed significantly to dissemination and communication activities via presentations at a range of international and national events, scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals, publication series of e-Newsletters on the project actions, organisation series of dissemination events, maintaining the project website www.multicoop.eu. Project consortium was progressing well and all these activities enabled excellent visibility of the MultiCoop project.
Knowledge Transfer Plan has been elaborated at the end of the project with the inputs from all partners to enable transfer of knowledge emanating from the project, thus making available to the scientific community, universities, research institutes, official authorities and industry. It will enable sustainability and ensure continuation of relationships between both the partners themselves and between partners and other actors (stakeholders).

3. Strengthening cooperation and scientific strategy
To strengthen cooperation among the project partners and formulate a scientific strategy for further common research activities, and in particular increase the research and innovation potential of the partner from widening country, all project partners have worked closely together to identify possible areas of future research based on the expertise within the consortium and by identifying gaps in research related to food and feed safety, quality and integrity. Relevant proposals have been prepared and submitted to various funding providers both in response to specific calls and standalone; funding has been received for some of them.
The expertise and excellence of all three project partners was shared and served to strengthen the competences of each institution and accelerate the development of research capabilities in the assessment of food and feed safety, quality and integrity, in particular the partner from the widening country. Specific impacts are as follows:
(i) Increased skills set within partner organisations for assessment of food and feed safety. Training for the next generation of scientists through the training programme has been targeted to enhance the skills not only for the partner from widening country but also for the other partners.
(ii) Established collaborations have resulted in the publications of research in high impact journals and wide range of dissemination and communication activities delivered by all project partners, through the website, publications, organisation series of events and presentations at scientific and other events, in order to inform both project participants and widest audience about the actions performed during the project lifetime and the outcomes achieved. All the above impacts will lead to maximising the impact in terms of improving comprehensive assessment of food and feed safety and also serve to raise the profiles of researchers within the partner organisations, in particular the early stage researchers.
(iii) Identification of potential areas of cooperation and preparation of project submissions have resulted in increased research and innovation capacity with a wide range of organisations, therefore enhancing the attractiveness and competitiveness of VSCHT for possible collaboration. This was demonstrated by the fact that several successful applications were made.
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