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Towards inclusive research programming for sustainable food innovations

Final Report Summary - INPROFOOD (Towards inclusive research programming for sustainable food innovations)

Executive Summary:
The following report is delineating the development of INPROFOOD in its entirety and will focus on the achievements and results in INPROFOOD related to its goals. The first action included the Mapping current processes of research programming in the area of food and health) has successfully completed its tasks and has provided valuable insight in today’s processes of creating research programmes in 10 European countries and Europe. One central outcome is the insight, that civil society organisations are only very rarely involved in this process with the main actors being science and industry (depending on the type of programme). Secondly, a Participatory needs assessment, engagement and mobilization: European Awareness Scenario Workshops was conducted. The main tasks consisted in the development, implementation, and assessment of actions that foster engagement and mobilization in Europe to achieve more inclusive and consequently more successful research programmes in the area of food and health. Three series of altogether 35 European Awareness Scenario Workshops (EASWs) in 13 countries with a total of 529 participants from 490 organisations have been conducted and analyzed. Central to the results was the insight that the programming processes were perceived as being still not open enough and sometimes self-selective, hidden networks and ‘closed circles’ were of concern, as well as the lack of inclusion of central societal actors that are not Science and Technology but also concerned by the decisions (for example patient and consumer groups). As to the research topics, i.e. the perceived ‘best case’ scenario related to the possible content of future research, the topics ‘minimally processed’, ‘labelling’, ‘natural’, and ‘regional food supply’ were mentioned most often, independent of region. A special action targeted at young people (age 14-21) was conducted with the ‘PlayDecide Games’. In total, the games were played by 2757 young people in 11 different European countries. These learning games were a full success and lead to valuable insights in the often neglected group of adolescents and their view on food and health. Thirdly the Mobilizing stimulus, ideas and initiatives through a European Open Space Conference gave the opportunity to almost 100 participants to freely choose the most pressing issues and discuss them in round tables. Fourthly, under the lead of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Regional Office for Europe, an action plan was elaborated that used the insights gained in the previous actions for recommending future steps and strategies in the field of food and health programming. Furthermore, an evaluation of the project work has been completed and was able to give valuable recommendations for improvements with regard to the implementation of mobilization and mutual learning actions. A comprehensive Dissemination Plan was successfully implemented and provided for all necessary communication materials, including the project’s graphic design. Finally, the Coordinator is happy to report a very successful and intensive 3-year-effort of networking and liaising with important EU initiatives and key international stakeholders that made INPROFOOD a great success and transported the important messages to policy makers and the civil society all over Europe.

Project Context and Objectives:
Over the past decade, most EU Member States have identified food and health as key priorities. This is in response to increases in obesity and diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases amongst their populations. Attempts to increase public awareness of appropriate ways to eat more healthily though did not seem to have led to significant changes in patterns of food purchase and consumption. It has become obvious that the development of effective measures for improvement is a demanding task and requires further systematic research and innovative approaches. At EU level, food-related health problems have now been identified as one of Europe’s common major challenges which the emerging European Research Area needs to deal with. Advocating and promoting the production of knowledge that is close to the concerns of European citizens, the European Commission has emphasized that simply inventing new technologies is not enough to overcome the pressing societal challenges in Europe (European Commission 2009). Therefore, a purposeful communicative exchange is required between research, business, and civil society actors on the nature of the problem and the role that innovative products and technological approaches (besides or complementary with social measures) could play in tackling it. In accordance with the FP7 Science in Society research program, it was a basic assumption of INPROFOOD that addressing this hugely ambitious task requires dialogue and mutual learning between industry, academia and civil society already in the earliest stages of research processes directed towards developing innovative approaches (technical and social) for dealing with the food and health challenge. Social discourse among research, industry, and civil society is therefore to be considered as a basic prerequisite for moving towards a more “reliable and down-to earth vision” (Felt 2004, p. 22) of what food and technological innovations could contribute to dealing with this Grand Challenge. Thus, the overarching objective of INPROFOOD was the promotion of bottom-up concepts (processes and structures) of societal engagement in food and health research. INPROFOOD has been designed to meet the following objectives. Firstly, to investigate current processes and structures of research programming in the area of food and health is to bring further insight in existing gaps and potential possibilities for improvements. Secondly, the development, implementation, and subsequent analysis of stakeholder engagement and mutual learning exercises at national and European level shall bring valuable directions for future research programming in food and health. Thirdly, an Action Plan addressed to policy makers will be issued to stimulate the uptake of concrete initiatives of societal engagement in food and health. Another objective consisted in the evaluation of the methodology implemented during the project in relation to its objectives and expected impacts to show possible areas of improvement in future Mobilization and Mutual Learning Actions. Finally, INPROFOOD has set out to keep the targeted audiences and the wider interested public informed about the progress and dynamics of the project and to support and to complement the FP7 research programmes KBBE and HEALTH by establishing cooperation with approved projects and implementing joint activities.

Project Results:
The following report is presenting the results and foreground gained in INPROFOOD and is sorted according to its main lines of action.
The overarching theme of the INPROFOOD project is the advancement of dialogue between researchers, industry and civil society around food and health research programming. The first action aimed to provide evidence of existing and current structures and instruments of research funding as a starting point for other aspects of the project that will ultimately result in guidelines for more inclusive, sustainable research designs. The key objectives were to 1) map the current processes and structures for food and health innovation research at national level and European level and 2) develop an inventory of relevant stakeholders/actors engaged (directly or indirectly) in the process of food and health research programming and knowledge translation. The specific objectives were to: Delineate food and nutrition innovation research topic, classify research funding bodies (across countries and at the EU level), identify and analyze documents relevant to the stages of research cycle, conduct semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders in order to identify key decisional moments in the research cycle and reflect on the role of different stakeholders and research users. In order to achieve this, two phases of work have been engaged: The First phase contained a synthesis report for the characteristics of the current processes and structures of research at national and EU-level and was completed in September 2013. The Second phase related to a report on the inventory of the actors involved at each stage of research cycle for each country including Interviews with decision makers to fill in the gaps in information about decision-making moments and actors involved for each stage of the research cycle.
Methodology: Based on the topics identified in the country reports, it was decided to focus on research programming directed toward the development of more nutritious foods (e.g. the isolation of plant compounds to develop foods with health promoting or disease preventing properties; the development of whole plants as such foods; or the development of whole animals as such foods). Each partner was to identify such topic in their country, and the methodological approach was clarified to take into account the level of specificity of the topic selected. The methodological approach was inductive as it was driven by the specific cases identified. The focus was on research funded by the public sector or public-private partnerships. The aim of the second phase was therefore to have developed a map of actors that have a role in the research programming for the specified topic and could discuss the decision-making processes that led to that topic/area being funded, as well as their ideas about the concept of innovation in the food and health domain. Challenges to carrying out this task included: Some of the countries (Austria, Germany) could not ascertain information about how decision-making was done, either due to confidentiality issues or because the people interviewed did not have knowledge about this. For the European level, individuals involved in the specific project being examined were difficult to reach, or did not agree to be interviewed. In these cases, we used the programme information available on websites etc.
Significant results: Research paper: How is ‘innovation’ understood? - Cognitive framing among actors involved in the funding of food and health research across eight European countries. This was submitted to the journal Research Policy for review, and if accepted, it will be published as an open access article. The main findings reported in this paper, are: The demand (or need)-pull dynamic is relevant to innovation ‘on the ground’ in the area of food and health, despite having been relegated in contemporary thinking and policies around innovation. Innovation in the food and health domain is perceived to be focused on biosciences and marketable applications, to the neglect of social sciences and broader public interest. European regulation is considered a barrier to innovation in food and health because of the scientific evidence required to make health claims that could translate to marketable products.
These findings indicate inadequate consideration of normative issues around innovation among national research funders in the food and health domain despite the increasing importance of ‘responsible research and innovation’ within European policy.
The main findings in the report on the inventory of the actors involved at each stage of research cycle for each country were: main stakeholders involved in research funding decision-making are government; industry; researchers (but not necessarily all together). In three of the 11 cases examined, there was civil society involvement to some degree, but the actual influence in terms of shaping research directions was questionable. Other factors perceived to influence the process include: Trends – hot topics perceived of interest to funding bodies. Asymmetries in influence – experts pushing their interests and disciplines; industry lobbies. Previous Experience/Publication Record – disadvantaging early career, those who have worked for industry. Influence of Networks: among funding bodies, funding bodies + industry, industry lobbies, industry + university networks.
From the above indications, we can conclude that there is a lack of transparency about process of research programming, a discrepancy between official version and actual practice, and a questionable impact of consultation with civil society groups.

The second part of INPROFOOD was concerned with participatory needs assessment, engagement and mobilization: European Awareness Scenario Workshops. The main objectives and tasks were:
To involve additional stakeholder groups which might be strongly affected by health related food safety issues and/or which could add valuable new perspectives, but which have not been sufficiently integrated into participatory discussions on food and health, yet. This applies especially to regional Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
To bring together this broad range of stakeholders to develop visions of socially acceptable, trustworthy, and transparent research programming in the area of healthy and sustainable food: including research funders, policy makers, policy-making, interdisciplinary researchers and scientists, food producers, health professionals, consumer organisations, self-help groups, parents associations, food cooperatives and environmental advocacy groups and small to medium business associations such as local & regional farming associations, etc.
To circumvent frequent shortcomings of participatory methods by a workshop plan that allows to retrospectively comparing the outcomes of several scenario workshops, conducted without influencing each other. This has been achieved by bringing together stakeholders in three series of regional workshops and a documentation of the input of workshop participants. The workshop plan has been design specifically to avoid those shortcomings by introducing strictly defined eligibility criteria for participation in each workshop series, a common scheme that allows to filter common results from circumstantial outcomes, avoiding huge real-life power imbalances within one workshop, a transparent, publicly available and provable recruitment scheme, and taking account of individual characteristics, like age and gender.
The implementation of these Scenario Workshops has been conducted in 3 series in 13 countries, resulting in a total of 35 carefully matched European Awareness Scenario Workshops each with 12-16 participants and lasting 1-2 days. 529 participants from 490 organisations participated. The separation into 3 series has been done to avoid too strong power imbalances within a workshop. 3 hierarchy levels were roughly determined: “small”, “medium” and “large”. (These hierarchy levels mostly related to “power” or “geographic outreach”, but not literally in respect to physical “size”.) Three stakeholder categories were determined: “public” (comprising universities, public authorities, etc.), “business” (business associations) and “NPOs without business ties”. In Series 2 of the workshops in the business category, business associations and SMEs were eligible. NPOs without business ties were more difficult to attract and were made eligible in all series irrespective of geographical outreach.
For each workshop, a report documents participants’ input as authentic as possible, including photos of flipcharts resulting from break-out sessions, procedures and a list of organisations and delegates. A toolkit has been developed that contained a timeline of steps to be taken, from finding stakeholders maybe over-proportionally affected by food and health issues through the steps for the recruitment of workshop participants to conducting the workshops and documenting their output, and included stakeholder categories, eligibility criteria, schemes for recruiting participants, invitation and information materials, a workshop agenda, instructions for workshop facilitators, FAQs and a reporting scheme. The concept for the adapted European Awareness Scenario Workshops addresses some often criticized weaknesses of stakeholder engagement.
An abridged version of the methodology, together with the stakeholder databases and the workshop reports, are all available for download at the information provided allows for a detailed tracking of the process - from preparing the scenario workshops to conducting and analysing them according to the information provided by the workshop organisers. The INPROFOOD scenario workshops have been the biggest, and one of the most transparently organised stakeholder engagements with scenario workshops, in Europe so far.
The common invitation and information materials comprised an invitation letter with an information sheet on a specific workshop and the workshops in general. The letter reached out not to single citizens, but to organisations sending delegates with some affinity to the workshop topics. The template was provided by SPI. Partners translated them into the languages the workshops were conducted in. The information on the workshops in general was expected to be the same for all three series. In all three series participants were expected to receive a briefing paper before the workshop, which provided them with an overview of research programming issues in connection with food, health and sustainability.
A uniquely high standard of transparency was maintained from the very beginning. More often than not it is not transparent why specific organisations or people were invited to a participation event and not other people. But if the trust of a broader public is to be gained, then transparency and non-arbitrariness must be also evident to the more skeptical groups and not only to organizers and/or involved participants. Two innovative recruitment schemes have been employed: the first one based on sortation and stakeholder databases with entries from freely accessible, official online resources from public authorities, and the second one with transparent calls for participation.
Also the Calls for Participation aimed at non-arbitrary recruitment of participants. Workshop organizers adapted a general text for all calls to their national, regional and local circumstances by specific participation criteria for public entities, CSOs, SMEs, and business associations and promoted the calls within a short time interval by sending them to media, umbrella organisations (so they could spread it to their members), mailing lists, universities, business associations, etc. All calls were released on a website set up in Period 1 In case of a too high number of expressions of interest a simple public random selection would have taken place.
With the first Series 2 workshop taking place in February 2013 and the last one in July 2013 and with the first Series 3 workshop taking place in March 2013 and the last one in September 2013, Series 2 & 3 overlapped. This overlapping was mostly due to merged workshops of Series 2 & 3, which usually were conducted on the date of the planned Series 3 workshops. Altogether, the three workshop series saw 529 participants from 490 organisations in 35 workshops. Of the 490 organisations having participated, 116 are business associations, 44 enterprises, 28 were governmental organisations, 125 other public institutions such as public universities, 7 public-private partnerships and business non-profit partnerships, and 101 NPOs without business ties. 15 organisations belong to the category “Other”, 54 organisations were not sub-categorized because of anonymisation. Less NPOs without business ties than targeted have been involved. Of 39 planned workshops, eventually 35 took place. Due to difficulties with attracting enough participants, the workshops of Series 2 & 3 in Belgium, France, Spain and the United Kingdom have been merged. It is notable that almost all workshops taking place in smaller countries could be conducted. Definitely, the economic, financial and political crises in Europe had an impact, but remarkably in the Member States most heavily affected by them, only one workshop had to be merged. In Greece, Italy, and Portugal all workshops took place as planned.
Each workshop was descriptively documented. Participants’ input was not analyzed, but documented as authentic as possible. Photos of working groups’ flipchart posters, their transcriptions and English translations are the core documentation. The partners sent their workshop reports to the coordinating partner who identified workshop series by workshop series, common suggested guidelines and criteria, issues and topics across and in stakeholder categories alike.
Common research topics: To provide a better overview on the research preferences and topics workshop participants named, we clustered them. A cluster comprises of at least two topics. Topics that could not been subsumed under a cluster are not mentioned here. All topics can be found in the respective workshop reports available at As an example, the most named topics in Workshop Series 1 have been: Affordability of healthy food, consumer behavior, consumer information, control & regulation, environmental sustainability, food ingredients and food additives, research areas and topics of local, regional or national importance, specific nutrition needs, food safety, food supply/availability, genetically modified organisms, healthiness of food, new food products, prevention of chronic diseases, food quality, food production and processing.
Common topics on research programming: On a general level, there was some agreement across stakeholder categories that decision making on funding should involve stakeholders other than researchers, scientists and funders (7 mixed, 2 NPO groups, 1 public sector in 7 workshops) but it was also mentioned that the review process should not be influenced by a dominating stakeholder and be independent and impartial without conflicts of interest (9 mixed, 5 NPO, 4 public sector, 3 private sector groups in 8 workshops). Some working groups mentioned that buddy systems (2 public sector groups, 1 NPO group in 3 workshops) and political agendas are to be avoided (1 public sector, 1 private sector, 1 mixed group in 3 workshops) in favor of knowledgeable reviewers (4 mixed, 3 public sector, 2 business sector groups, 1 NPO group in 5 workshops) or international experts (2 public sector groups, 1 mixed group in 2 workshops). Again, this is an example from Series 1 of the EASWs, the complete and detailed results for all three are available at
A second objective was the creation and implementation of discussion games targeted at young people, the PlayDecide Games. This was performed by the partners ECSITE and EUFIC. The content of the game was produced using the existing PlayDecide format developed within the past FP7 project FUND. As a first step, the following topics were identified as the basis for the games:
Consumer environment: sustainability/food waste, economic factors/budget, city and workplace infrastructure, education, reformulation, food labelling, regulation, pricing.
Lifestyle, diet & disease: “Good/bad” foods vs. “good/bad” diets, lifestyle (low physical activity/high caloric intake), short term pleasure vs. long-term health, energy balance/small steps /portion sizes, moderation, obesity.
Societal & Psychological aspects: lifestyle/eating behavior change, socializing/fun, habits, food & emotions, advertising of unhealthy food (including campaigns at schools, TV, Internet, games etc.), own preference vs. social/peer pressure (e.g. physical activity, food selection), dieting, food and psychology.
The topics were divided into more detailed issues/situations and reworked into three sets of cards: story cards, issue cards and information cards, which form the basis of the game. Participants use the cards to familiarize themselves with the topic and as a basis for their discussions. While creating the game, the target audience was always taken into account, it was important to make the game accessible and relevant to the young people. Also while creating scenarios and issues the geographical distribution of the locations where the game would be played was acknowledged.
After all the cards have been drafted by the teams from Ecsite and EUFIC, the final draft was tested at the Centre for Life in Newcastle, UK. Two testing sessions were organized. One with a younger target group (14-17) and the other with the older (19-21). Each participant, as well as facilitator had to give their opinion on how the games went and what could be improved. Both groups responded very well and enjoyed the games. Some minor changes were applied and the final version was released to all museums. Once museums received the final draft they were required to make accurate translations so that they corresponded to the content. They could adapt the texts to their local audience and contexts (for example simplify the language or change the names of the characters to the local ones).
The recruitment process was run in parallel with the creation of the game. Ecsite has launched an open call to recruit the science museums for this task. All museums, which ran the discussion games, were recruited via Ecsite channels – website, newsletter, conference. Ecsite was very pleased by the interest this call for participation raised and as a result was able to recruit 17 science centres that were committed to the aims of INPROFOOD. The topic of food and health seemed to resonate with many of museums’ activities. Interested museums were required to submit an application with the following components.
With a great selection of museums, it was possible to have a good geographical coverage of Europe and even beyond. Italy, Spain and the UK, being some of the largest countries in the EU are very well represented with 4 science centres throughout Italy, 3 in Spain and 2 in the UK. Other large countries such as France and Germany were also covered by one science center in each country. Scandinavia is represented by Norway. In Eastern Europe there are Estonia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. Balkans is represented by Croatia, and even Israel, which is outside Europe, was covered.
The minimum number of young people each science center had to engage was 80. However, most of them did much better than that. Participants for the games were recruited fully by the science centres. Most of them offered the activity to schools or university students; some also ran the games during public events and festivals. The age of participants was 14-21. The majority of all participants were 15-16 years old.
In total, the games were played by 2757 young people in 11 different countries.

After all the games took place, the museums were asked to report on them. They had to upload all the policy positions data from the games onto the website. Ecsite collected all the date from the museums, which consisted of facilitator’s reports and evaluation questionnaire and summarized it in the final report on the games which is available on the INPROFOOD website:
A third action to elicit viewpoints and input from stakeholders was the organisation and implementation of a European Open Space Conference: mobilising stimulus, ideas and initiatives. Including the preparation phase, the Open Space Conference in Brussels was conducted on 14th November 2013.
The preparation of the Open Space Conference started with a presentation at the consortium meeting in Porto in November 2012. Lead Partner DIALOGIK discussed a concept of the format, the time schedule, the method and the invitation process with the INPROFOOD partners. During the summer 2013, the INPROFOOD partners EUFIC and DIALOGIK actively searched for a suitable venue and managed to set up cooperation with the Flemish Academy of Science and the Arts, based in the city center of Brussels.
The first step of the invitation process was an e-mail including an advertisement flyer created by project partner SPI in a digital version. DIALOGIK sent this invitation to a database of 2357 valid e-mail addresses across Europe and the participants of the German EASW workshops. The database included all targeted stakeholder groups i.e. civil society organisations, researchers, research funding organisations, policy makers, representatives of the food industry, health professionals and communication professionals. In addition all project partners were bid to forward the invitation to their contacts and EASW participants on national level. A reminder was sent six weeks after the first invitation to all contacts who had not responded until then.
The information package (leaflet, agenda, etc) for the European Open-Space-Conference Food and Health - Research 2020 was available in August 2013 and was used as material and background information for the invitation process. The second step was to disseminate the invitation via newsletters and social media, publication via homepages and aural advertisement on conferences, workshops and similar events. In order to spread the conference invitation as broad as possible, project partners DIALOGIK, SPI, EUFIC and the University of Hohenheim formed a task force and promoted the conference via the mentioned channels, their own websites, newsletters, twitter accounts and in other food and health related projects they were part of or had contacts to. The same task force worked together on other organizational matters concerning the conference. The invitation process lead to 101 registered participants from 21 countries to whom a confirmation including travel details and accommodation options was sent. The last step of the invitation process consisted, besides answering questions of participants and managing accommodations, in sending a more detailed information package to the participants for preparation to the Open Space Conference.
18 different workshops were held in the course of the day, covering important and exciting areas in food and health such as education, involvement of citizens, eating habits and cooperation between industry and science. A week after the Open Space Conference, DIALOGIK provided all participants with the draft version of the “book of proceedings”, asked the hosts and all participants to give feedback, to further develop the content as well as the models and provide some explanation. The organizers received various fruitful comments and elaborations and thus compiled this final version of the “Book of Proceedings”. The experiences in Brussels showed that the Open Space Technology as a conference method proved to be suitable for diverse groups with heterogeneous interests and from various disciplines (probably from conflicting parties as well) as given in the INPROFOOD project and the topics of food, health and research. It brought about new topics in main research areas despite the very short time frame of a full day event. The 18 workshop topics that the participants decided to work on, were: Why do we eat what we eat?; Gluten-free-nutritional Composition, Alternative Grains, Testing and Gut Health; Vegetarianism & Health (Can healthy food be environmental friendly?); Animal Welfare; Research on Civil Society Partnership with Farmers and Food Industry; Role of Legislation in Healthy Eating; How to integrate industry into research?; Organic Food and Health; Unique and Tasty Food; Genetically Designed Food (GMO Food); What kind of education can we develop about food and health?; Pesticide Residues; Nutritional Guidelines in the Future + Labelling; Eating Patterns; How can citizens/civil society be involved?; Nanotechnology and Development of Coatings and Encapsulating Systems; How to deal with the need of (healthy) food considering future shortage of food production compared with growing population?, and Patents in the Agri-Food Sector: Is it sustainable?.
The complete Book of Proceedings including results from the respective workshop sessions is available at
As the next step – and on a more theory-guided level - INPROFOOD asked itself several central questions that helped in guiding the final analysis of the outcomes and insights resulting from this project (performed by the WHO Regional Office for Europe):

Who are the stakeholders that are directly responsible for decision on issues important to research programming in food, nutrition and health? Who are influential in shaping thematic research areas? Who hold positions of responsibility to the execution of decisions? Who are likely to promote and support the issue, provided that they are involved? Who will be affected by the issue? Who has not been involved up to now but should be? This normative approach can be tackled by employing power versus interest grids. They typically help to determine which players' interests and power bases must be taken into account in order to address the problem or issue at hand. They also help highlight coalitions to be encouraged or discouraged, and whose participation should be sought. Finally, they provide some information on how to help advance the interests of the relatively powerless. The stakeholder categories were labeled as: Public bodies: National research institutes and agencies, National Food, Nutrition and Health agencies and Academia, private and business related organizations, and citizen non-profit organizations: these organizations are those that have no ties to industry or enterprises or other stakeholders and are not oriented towards making profits.

The four categories of stakeholders in the grid are the following:
Key players: Organizations, groups and individuals who directly influence the agenda-setting and who have a strong interest in the issue.
Context-setters: Organizations, groups and individuals that have significant power and influence on the decision-making process or are responsible to execute decision, but may have little to say in the agenda-setting and display moderate or low interest;
Supporters: Organizations, groups and individuals who have a mobilized interest but little access to the agenda-setting and decision-making arena;
Public: Groups and individuals who have no mobilized interest and little influence, but are considered as important stakeholders in food, nutrition and health innovations. As stated above, our stakeholder analysis has an underlying normative objective, in which we consider stakeholder participation as something valuable to research programming in the area of food, nutrition and health.
For all the stakeholders per country a power/interest grid has been produced to visualize the stakeholders’ involvement in food, nutrition and health research.
The conclusions made clear that no group alone is ‘fully in charge’ of the topic; no single organization “owns” the problem. Instead many individuals groups and organizations are involved or affected or have some partial responsibility to act. The most striking finding across all cases in this report is the marginalization of civil society organizations in the policy-making process related to food, nutrition and health research programming. This report points to the need to improve stakeholder participation in food, nutrition and health research programming, so that all groups -who affect or are affected- are represented in efforts to improve research agendas.
The detailed analysis per country and a table related to specific research topics are available at .
A further analysis (also performed by the WHO Regional office for Europe) had the specific objective to conduct a social network policy analysis to describe more in-depth the relationships and knowledge flows between the identified stakeholders and counterparts and the observations of stakeholder interactions previously identified. This included a qualitative assessment of six food and health networks in terms of stakeholder participation and the nature of exchange and knowledge flows between stakeholders. The contribution of this report was a set of hypotheses to tackle the food and health dilemma and contributed to the Mobilization and Mutual Learning Action Plan described further down.

The main findings of this network analysis were:
The central actor(s) in food and health networks are either industry, government, or both.
The cases of Italy and the Netherlands are public-private led networks, with a high degree of market-strategic exchange within the network.
The cases of Greece, Scotland, Slovakia and UK show a rather exclusive, government centered network with little mutual exchange within the network.
Representativeness in terms of public goods largely occurs via scientific experts or government bodies.
To stimulate discussion, to debate the findings of INPROFOOD, and to obtain valuable feedback, the INPROFOOD workshop ‘The voice of citizens in food, nutrition and health research innovation’ was held at the WHO Regional Office for Europe on 26-27 May 2014. Twenty-one Member States and 31 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and Universities were represented at the workshop. The primary goal of this workshop was to bring together European stakeholders and WHO’s counterparts in an open dialogue under one roof to discuss the challenges of social food and health and to develop strategies of how key stakeholders and the civil society can be involved and contribute to food and health research.
Over the two days of the workshop, the participants were introduced to key concepts of science in society, transformative learning and public participation in research by some of the most renowned academics in these fields. Participants were divided into breakout groups and were given worksheets with a set of topics, information about research governance and questions to be debated. Each group had one moderator to facilitate discussion and one note taker to record the discussion.

A number of clear conclusions emerged from the workshop:
Inclusivity – publicly-funded research belongs to society as a whole and, as such, needs to be much more inclusive of all stakeholders. Efforts should be made to actively seek out the opinions of marginalized groups. Methods need to be developed to include marginalized and vulnerable groups, for example elderly people and children, in debating social challenges that should be addressed in research agendas.
Public participation is not necessary at all stages of research governance. However, it was recognized that public participation is important in the agenda setting and program development stages, and is particularly important for research issues that have an ethical dimension.
Power imbalances between stakeholders result in unequal participation in the agenda setting stage and mean that some stakeholder groups have more influence in defining research priorities. Governments should be in control of delegating power to different groups. Transparency is needed about the decision-making process and the weight of influence given to different stakeholders.
Trust building activities are important when engaging with homogenous research networks. Transparency, time and patience are instrumental in developing trust. Processes should be open and transparent and all stakeholders need to declare potential conflicts of interest. More discussion is needed on how to manage conflicts of interest. Public money should be decoupled from private research funding.
The full report is available on

Wrapping up the results and experiences garnered from the previous research and empirical actions, a Mobilisation and Mutual Learning Action Plan (MMLAP) was outlined by the WHO Regional office for Europe to inform programme responsibles, policy makers, and concerned stakeholders about these outcomes and their consequences for future research programming in the field of Food and Health. This roadmap outlines a framework for the participation of stakeholders in health and food research programming. It suggests a set of principles to guide policy-making in this area on the basis from a reflection of the outcomes from INPROFOOD. It presents priority areas and key actions to guide policy-makers in building-up capacity for embedding a participatory design and in food and health research programming. For the complete draft Action Plan please also visit:
Another very important part of INPROFOOD was the evaluation of the methods employed to assess the overall effectivity of the project and to compare its actual outcome with the envisaged goals. This challenging task has been performed by an impartial and professional evaluator who was not active in any other task of the project. This involved the evaluation of a number of different types of stakeholder engagement using one relatively well-developed evaluation scheme, allowing a degree of comparison across the events. Aim of the evaluation was NOT to discover incompetence or failure, but rather to discover and to learn from processes that – in several instances – were performed for the very first time in such a large scale with INPROFOOD. Indeed, it is in those situations where things go ‘wrong’ that are often the most informative, and it is from these that we learn the most. In this respect, the INPROFOOD project has been (in spite of various difficulties) an incredible success, and – should the wider community accept the evaluations with proper understanding – lead to a quantum leap in the conduct of future stakeholder engagement events. The central ‘object’ of investigation was related to the concept of ‘information translation’. Any information, that has been gained through a workshop or an event, that has not been recorded (translated) properly, is information lost. Therefore, the main recommendations were:
Use audio recording to ensure fidelity of information collection: participants almost never object as long as they have the purpose of recording explained to them and are assured of anonymity (etc.).
If audio-recording is problematic for some reason, supply groups with rapporteurs or note-takers to ensure that as much of the information that the groups produce is accurately recorded. Using whiteboards or flipcharts can also help, because they enable all to see what points are being recorded in ‘real-time’, and are then able to respond or suggest corrections. Do not rely upon the groups themselves to produce fair and comprehensive reports – as this will not happen.
Summarising conversations in an event can be difficult, especially if there is insufficient time for participants to think about their responses, or to really discuss them afterwards. This might be countered by having an event run over two days, allowing participants in the evening, for example, to produce a summary of their position. This would add some validity to interpretations of the output (confirming what participants really meant and thought was important).
Another way to verify summaries from events is to ask participants afterwards whether the summarised output (e.g. produced by the organisers) is a full and accurate reflection of the participants’ views (akin to the research process of ‘member checking’). However, this process is not guaranteed to be effective, as participants often fail to respond to post-event missives, while the time that passes between an event and producing and sending a summary may mean that participants cannot accurately remember what was discussed in detail (and in any case, should one suggest an amendment, can we be sure that such a suggestion is actually correct and not consequent on misperception or other motivations?).
Dissemination activities were carried out throughout the project duration. Tasks related to disseminating the events and outcomes of the project and to updating the communication plan, the project website and social networks were carried out. Also, materials for national and transnational information and communication have been developed. National dissemination events were organised and a document describing the experience gathered from conducting dissemination actions in INPROFOOD developed.
Especially during the last period of the project, a great effort has been made to take advantage of the conclusions of the different activities of the projects to develop strong and clear messages about the project and to deliver them to the different stakeholder groups (preferably in a targeted way) using the appropriate tools and channels. As a result of these efforts:

5 major stakeholder groups were reached through the project activities (stakeholders were categorized in five main groups, namely policy-makers and funding organisations, research organisations, industry, public health, and civil society organisations);
1234 research-based organisations, 1928 business-related entities, 1482 civil society organisations, 247 public health organisations and 536 policy-makers and funding agencies received regular emails with the five project newsletters, as well as invitations to the project events (including the Open Space Conference, or the final conference of the project);
Nearly 3600 stakeholders were engaged in the project activities, including semi-structured interviews (55 interviewees), European Awareness Scenario Workshops (488 participants), Play Decide Games (>2800 young people), Open Space Conference (70 participants), WHO workshop (41 stakeholders) and Final conference (64 participants);
Stakeholders from 34 countries in Europe and from seven countries outside Europe (Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Israel, Peru, USA and Jordan) received information about (and whenever possible were involved in) the project activities;
Nearly 5000 brochures in different languages (English, French, German, Spanish, and Greek) were distributed to stakeholders during project events and at workshops/ seminars/ conferences outside the project; Partners have disseminated the project in external events in about 26 different countries.
While carrying out the tasks in the project, the maximum efforts were applied to fulfil the project objectives and to maximise the impact of the project as fully as possible with the available resources.
A Communication Plan was developed within the first five months of the project, aiming at helping partners understand their responsibilities in terms of dissemination and exploitation. The plan contained the main communication channels and tools of the project, an indication of the key communication moments, and how internal communication should work so that dissemination and exploitation is effective and timely. A comprehensive list of planned events and actions for each partner was also included in the Communication Plan of the project. This Communication Plan was revised and updated in August 2013.
As defined in the Communication Plan, every six months, partners were requested to provide an interim report document on their dissemination and exploitation activities, as well as a plan with the communication activities that were foreseen for the upcoming months. Based on the information reported in these documents, SPI summarized the dissemination activities for the period and analysed them to develop recommendations for the future dissemination and exploitation activities.
During the period of reference, a report on the dissemination activities of the partnership for the period of November 2013-May 2014 was developed, based on the activities reported by the partners for each period. This report presents an analysis of the messages transmitted during the communication activities, the geographical outreach of activities and the examination of the stakeholder groups addressed during the dissemination activities. A detailed analysis of the tools and channels used in INPROFOOD’s activities are also included in the report, indicating the main seminars/ workshops/ conferences attended by the partnership. The report also includes an analysis of the project database regarding the number of stakeholders per target group and per country.
Partners’ plans containing the communication activities foreseen for the following period allowed partners to ensure that dissemination activities were included in each partner’s everyday tasks and that the key actors were targeted with the dissemination actions. They also allowed SPI to provide the necessary support of materials for these activities in a timely manner.
A final report of all dissemination activities was developed, summarizing all the dissemination and communication activities performed by partners throughout the project. This document was developed taking into account the information included in the interim dissemination reports developed throughout the project, as well as the dissemination reports provided by partners for the period between June 2014 and October 2014.
The website ( developed by the Coordinator) has been continuously updated with information on the activities of the project and with documentation associated with the activities. Moreover, during the period of reference, links to other initiatives have been included in the website (e.g. to EC safe SEAFOOD, or to The Berlaymont Paper), creating synergies with other stakeholders.
Facebook ( and Twitter ( accounts have been updated during the period of this report. Frequently, new posts have been published and new organisations have been included in these networks.
Materials for national and transnational communications have been developed with support from partners. These include awareness raising/ dissemination materials for use in national dissemination activities, materials for specific events, or flyers/ documents summarizing the main messages of the project and its activities. The materials have been designed taking into account the graphical design of the project, maintaining a common image for all project communication materials. All materials are available on the project website:
The management of INPROFOOD performed by the Coordinator and included both the scientific and the financial management. The next consortium meeting was held on 13 and 14 February 2014 at our Partner OBSERVA in Vicenza, Italy. The Coordinator has actively supported Partner 2 (DIALOGIK) in the organisation and planning of the European Open-Space-Conference (WP 3) which took place on 15 November 2013. The support extended to the provision of network contacts and promotional activities among European policy makers.
The Coordinator also visited the second EASW in Greece which took place on 3 June 2013 in Heraklion, Crete. The Coordinator observed together with the INPROFOOD evaluator Gene Rowe the organisation, proceeding, and deliberations, and supported the Greek Partner FORTH with input and information on possible enhancements for the next Greek EASW workshop.

Furthermore, the Coordinator has promoted and presented INPROFOOD and its activities on several high-level events in Europe:
HEALTH CONNECT 2013 in Stuttgart, Germany, on 7 and 8 May 2013. This event was held in the frame of the EU initiative AFRESH – a EU FP7 Capacities projects aiming at innovations for a healthy lifestyle, healthy food and physical activity for the prevention of diseases. The conference brought together experts of health research and researchers in the field of exercises and physical activity research, health promotion specialists and developers of web-based solutions and app-medicine from all over Europe. They are joined by public health policymakers on national, regional and local level as well as from Members of the European Parliament, including top-experts and practitioners in innovation, social sciences and communication. INPROFOOD could connect with important European initiatives as the JPI ‘Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ to plan future joint actions.
NutrEvent 2013 on 19 and 20 June 2013 in Lille, France. This international congress gathered all the key actors that intervene in the innovation process (academic researchers, R&D directors, business development managers, marketing managers, service providers…) with one objective in mind: to foster and promote collaborative research between private and public sectors in the field of Nutrition & Health. INPROFOOD was highly visible with a dedicated booth and attracted many guest for fruitful exchanges.
The Coordinator participated as official Observer of the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Nutrition and Non-Communicable Diseases in the Context of Health 2020 on 4 and 5 July 2013. The conference was followed by the signature of the Vienna Declaration on Nutrition and Non-Communicable Diseases by all WHO Member States representatives.
The Coordinator presented INPROFOOD at the 20 Nutritional Conference of the DGE (German Society for Nutrition) on 11 September 2013 in Stuttgart-Hohenheim with this year’s focus having been on obesity.
The Coordinator has been elected new member of the External Advisory Group (EAG) of the FP7 ERA-NET ‘SUSFOOD’. This large-scale ERA-NET is focused on sustainable food production and presents and excellent opportunity to promote the importance of including divers societal actors in sustainable food production programmes.
Participation at the FoodForce Meeting in Brussels (20.03.2014) for talk about the importance of Public Engagement in research programming and the results of INPROFOOD in this regard.
Participation at the FOODSEG-Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia (24.04.-25.04.2014).
Participation and contribution to the final conference of the EU FP7 Project ‘PROFILES’ in Berlin on 24 – 27 August 2014.
The final INPROFOOD conference was held at WHO Europe, UN City, Copenhagen, Denmark, on 14-15 October, 2014. A webpage was developed exclusively for disseminating information to stakeholders about the final conference ( including the scope of the conference, updates in the agenda (available at as well as information on the registration, accommodation and location of the event.
The first day of the final conference was focused on providing stakeholders with insights gained from the implementation of the project activities. Different partners presented a summary of the work performed in their work packages and discussion with the audience was promoted. During the second day, a panel of European experts from the areas of public health, food industry, and public participation fostered discussion with participants on aspects that should be considered in future programmes for food, nutrition and health. The presentations provided in the final conference are available on the project website ( A total of 64 participants (including INPROFOOD partners) attended the final conference of the project. External participants encompassed representatives from different stakeholder groups, including research-based organisations, European business associations, national ministries, or civil society organisations. A webinar summarizing the main aspects discussed in the final conference was organised, which was targeted at stakeholders that were not able to attend the final conference. The one hour webinar had 21 attendees.

Final Remarks of the Coordinator: In hindsight, and when tacking stock of the three INPROFOOD years, the Coordinator is extremely happy with the outcomes of the Project and the experiences being made. Many endeavors were completely new, and existing methods have never been employed before on such a large scale. The resulting experiences are extremely helpful for further actions – especially on a European scale. The learning effects were high, the results meaningful and relevant, the engagement of all partners was exemplary, and the interest in the final results of policy makers, programme responsibles on different levels, and stakeholder organisations, were very high and exceeded the expectations. A great thank you to all the partners who made this possible! And last but not least: the INPROFOOD website remains open and accessible for at least 12 Months after its end on 31 October 2014.

Potential Impact:
The results from the investigation of the existing processes and structures of research programming in the area of food and health will bring valuable insights on the agenda setting and programming processes of today’s research programmes. This ‘stock-taking’ will be complemented and contrasted by the extensive empirical findings from the Scenario Workshops, the PlayDecide games for the target group of young people, and the European Open Space Conference. This will enable the identification of gaps and provide for a sound basis for the development of policy recommendations for future research programmes. An overview on the most pressing issues with regard to future research topics in food and health will be produced based on the empirical evidence gained from the above mentioned actions. Together with the evaluation and methodological analysis of the strength and weaknesses of the applied methods, this major effort is to be seen as an exercise in mutual learning between industry, academia and civil society, as well as an exercise in Public Engagement in Research (PER).
All insights will be reflected back to the relevant stakeholders involved in the process – on national, as well as on European level. This will allow us to discuss and to – ideally - obtain consensus not only about the content, but also about the process for future PER actions. What did work out? What were the major obstacles? What needs to be changed and adapted? Can we identify common topics that need to be included in future research programmes?
INPROFOOD results will be the basis for a draft Action Plan and Roadmap, produced by the World Health Organisation (WHO Europe) with the contributions of their member states and their country representatives. This effort extends INPROFOOD in a unique way by providing a real chance to be implemented on a governmental level at a later stage.
INPROFOOD presents an excellent possibility for all involved stakeholders to network, discuss and find common grounds, thus providing the basis for European capacity building.
INPROFOOD is committed to maintain high European visibility by contributing to other EC initiatives, such as the JPI ‘Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ and the European Technology Platform ‘Food for Life’. INPROFOOD will liaise with these initiatives and contribute to their agendas.
INPROFOOD results will produce concrete and concise policy recommendations for stakeholders involved in the food and health sector. At its final conference, INPROFOOD partners will wrap-up their findings and recommendations and present them to policy makers, stakeholders, and the public. In conclusion, INPROFOOD will contribute significantly to the governance of food and health R&D, and will facilitate sustainable and inclusive solutions. The project will bring valuable input to a successful incorporation of public engagement into the systems of research and underpin the policy debate on a “new social contract” between science and society for the benefit of European citizens.
A complete dissemination list is in attachment.

List of Websites:

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 289045


Closed project

  • Start date

    1 November 2011

  • End date

    31 October 2014

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 4 553 171,40

  • EU contribution

    € 3 893 991

Coordinated by: