The food industry is evolving rapidly and becoming more innovative than ever thanks to advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and even information and communication technology. Despite Europe's leading scientific position in the areas of food, agriculture and fisheries, there is a lack of commercialisation of research and development (R&D) projects. To increase the global competitiveness of food and beverage companies and boost innovation, it is crucial to foster knowledge exchange in food technology, particularly between academia and industry. This was the aim of the EU-funded project HIGHTECH EUROPE (European network for integrating novel technologies for food processing). Keeping in mind that the food industry is fragmented, regulated, and dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises, the project encouraged technology and knowledge exchange among stakeholders. It brought together 22 partners from different national and regional organisations, federations and academic institutions to create knowledge transfer chains and networks. Effort was also put in to designing and creating the Food Tech Innovation Portal. This knowledge portal offers tools to overcome delays in development processes through a better understanding of the interference of innovation sources and food processing operations. Project members built an Associated Membership Platform to identify qualified stakeholders from industry and academia for powerful networking. In this way, they support long-term integration of European R&D in high-tech food processing. The team also prepared guidelines on how companies could streamline innovation and management, and produced a report on consumer acceptance of new processing technologies. Achievements also included knowledge transfer through online meetings, technology and innovation workshops, industry conferences and innovation awards. Equally noteworthy, HIGHTECH EUROPE investigated the feasibility of selected technologies in industry and laid the groundwork for a 'White book of European high-tech food processing', destined for industry and policy decision-makers. Available online, this explores the advantages and disadvantages of high-tech and other food processing techniques, focusing on future barriers and applications. The project gave two clear indications for the future of the HighTech Europe network. There is a need to strengthen the network itself and to ensure that the Food Tech Innovation Portal will be maintained and further enhanced, even after the end of the project. HIGHTECH EUROPE outcomes are bound to create more secure food supplies over the coming years for European citizens and beyond Europe's borders.
Innovation, food processing, food industry, HIGHTECH EUROPE, Food Tech Innovation