The Network of Excellence HighTech Europe facilitates the implementation of high-tech processing at industrial scale via strongly connected regional knowledge transfer chains consisting of basic-applied science centres (12 in total), industry federations (4), Innovation Relay Centre (1) and SMEs (5). Its main aim is to identify, develop and demonstrate potential, cost-efficient, innovations to be used by SMEs via a Science Cube approach and availability of high-tech pilot facilities. This approach links innovation sources (bio-, nano- and information and communication technologies), scientific principles and food engineering operations. In addition, industrial needs are mapped and linked with the results from the Science Cube approach, using a novel Lighthouse Watcher concept. New routes for implementation are developed such as a Knowledge Auction and an Implementation Award honouring full chain innovations. Next, knowledge transfer schemes elucidate feasibility studies and business cases based on unique patent portfolios convincing entrepreneurs and early adopters to acquire ‘lead market’ positions. Here, ethical, legal, social aspects and consumer perception regarding high-tech food processing are taken into account in order to set up a first, well-balanced Agenda of the White Book on high-tech food processing for policy and regulatory bodies. Dissemination of European findings and training & career development, especially for young scientists sharing spirit and enthusiasm with their senior colleagues in the Network of Excellence, allow attracting new stakeholders and next generations for a durable network finally merging into the future European Institute for Food Processing. Herein, critical mass and joint initiatives at the interface of the Food Manufacturers and Technology Providers substantially increase the innovation rate and competitiveness of the European Agro-Food sector.
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