Presenting FOODstars, project coordinator Dr Milica Pojić says: “The main goal of the project was to create the conditions that would allow for the implementation of open innovation practices in new food product development.” This is a key activity of the global food industry. The road ahead To do this, FOODstars used various skills and expertise as well as ideas and resources from different actors. Dr Pojić adds: “Researchers from diverse fields of food science and technology and from research institutions were involved in the promotion of a multidisciplinary approach to research in the process of new food product development.” The project further promoted and fostered the quadruple helix network of communication between academia, consumers, food industry and policymakers. FOODstars also worked towards establishing confidence and trust between all actors, as well as a long-term partnership in the innovation process. Additionally, it aimed to identify research and innovation topics of common interest. The success of FOODstars FOODstars has contributed to the boosting of FINS’s research excellence in close collaboration with internationally leading research institutions: Teagasc – the Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Ireland, and the University of Bologna, Italy. Furthermore, within the framework of the project, trainings, summer schools and workshops brought new knowledge and skills into the field of food technology. “This has resulted in the elevation of FINS’s research excellence throughout the whole innovative food product development cycle,” highlights Dr Pojić. This includes the generation and management of innovative ideas for the development of food products and experimental research planning. It also consists of applications of novel processing technologies and consumer research, which all underpin the power of innovation to develop new food formulations and technology solutions. FINS researchers also increased their visibility within the European and international scientific communities. Further to this, the project increased their international contacts and broadened their networks, which will ensure that durable partnerships between academic partners are maintained. Moreover, FOODstars enabled the establishment of strong links with consumers. Through education, they have become the most available innovation partners in new food product development who can make sound choices. This ultimately results in them buying innovative, nutritious, high-quality and eco-friendly food products. Strong links with the food industry and policymakers have also been established. These links are not only for consultation but also the development of trust-enhancing mechanisms within the “innovative food product development cycle,” notes Dr Pojić. FOODstars has also played an important role in motivating FINS’s researchers. They have become more proactive in preparing international research projects, finding new project partners and identifying funding opportunities. Opportunities in the future Project work made it possible to identify the deficiencies in FINS’s research curriculum. This will help with strategic planning as well as grow the institute. Additionally, development of the internal framework document Policy and Procedures on Intellectual Property Management as well as the establishment of an institutional repository of scientific publications are examples of best practice that has been transferred from project partners to FINS. This will help optimise the scientific process within the institute. FINS will also impose itself as an inevitable partner in the programmes of academia-industry collaboration.
FOODstars, FINS, innovation, food technology, research excellence, Institute of Food Technology