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New research will help make foods healthier, safer and more nutritious

12 October 2011

Over fifty research projects and studies aimed at developing healthier, safer and more nutritious food are to share over £7M of government investment.

The projects and studies will stimulate innovation in the UK's food and drink sector and lead to the development of new technologies and processes, with an emphasis on healthy and safe food. Funding for the research and development will be provided by the Technology Strategy Board, with support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), Defra and Scottish Enterprise. Including contributions from the participating companies the total value of the R&D exceeds £14.5M.

Twenty-seven major collaborative R&D projects have been awarded a share of £6.5M government funding. These projects will aim to develop highly innovative technologies or processes that are novel to the sector and whose application and implementation will be technically challenging. The projects to be funded include, for example, novel processing methods to retain the nutritional quality of raw fruit and vegetables in processed foods; formulation technologies to enable the reduction of fat and salt in food products; identification and development of functional foods that improve heart health, and strategies to enable the control of Campylobacter in poultry.

In addition, twenty-four small and medium-sized businesses are to receive up to £25,000 each to carry out small-scale technical feasibility studies, which may be taken forward later into larger scale projects. These studies will be in areas such as, for example, extending the nutritional life of fruit and vegetables; development of novel products to increase satiety (feeling of fullness), and novel methods to identify ingredients which safeguard bone health.

Ian Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: "Changes in our dietary and lifestyle patterns have seen an increase in diet-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and stroke. These exciting new research projects and studies, which between them cover the whole food supply chain from agriculture through to retail, have the potential to make a positive impact in the longer term, improving public health and reducing the burden these diseases place on our health system."

Professor Tim Benton, Global Food Security Champion Designate, said: "Global food security is not simply about providing people around the world with enough calories to survive, but ensuring that everyone has access to a safe and nutritious diet. By looking at ways of reducing the fat and salt content of some food products and at making processed foods more nutritious these projects could make a valuable contribution to providing people with a balanced healthy diet."

Maggie McGinlay, director of Scottish Enterprise's food and drink team, said: "The global health, nutrition and wellbeing market is expected to be worth around £348Bn by 2012. With the UK market worth £20Bn and Scotland's share of this at £1Bn, we're already helping companies to target this emerging sector through our Food and Health Innovation Service. It's great to see that 11 of the 51 projects being announced today are being led by Scottish companies looking to exploit these market opportunities for growth."

The government funding will support and stimulate innovation in the UK's food and drink sector, which makes a significant contribution to the nation's economic wealth. UK food exports continue to grow in value but to remain competitive requires flexibility, with innovation at the heart of product and production improvements.

The major collaborative research and development projects will be led by: 2 Sisters Food Group Ltd, Aquapharm Biodiscovery Ltd, AvantiCell Science Ltd, Bakkavor Foods Ltd, Bernard Matthews Ltd, Boots UK (2 projects), Cargill, Cawood Scientific Ltd, DelAgua Water Testing Ltd, eminate Ltd, First Frontera Ltd, Frutarom (UK) Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, Macphie of Glenbervie Ltd, Matrix MicroScience Ltd, Micromass UK Ltd, Monsanto UK Ltd, PepsiCo (2 projects), Provexis plc, Randox Laboratories Ltd, TasteTech Ltd, Unilever plc (2 projects), Wm Wrigley Jnr Company.

The Technology Strategy Board, EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC, Defra and the Scottish Government also contribute to the Global Food Security programme, a multi-partner programme that brings together the food security-related research interests of research councils, government departments and executive agencies to meet the challenge of supplying enough safe, nutritious and affordable food in a sustainable way for a growing global population.

Ends

About the Technology Strategy Board

The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led government body which works to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit: Technology Strategy Board website at: www.innovateuk.org.

The vision of the Technology Strategy Board is for the UK to be a global leader in innovation and a magnet for innovative businesses, where technology is applied rapidly, effectively and sustainably to create wealth and enhance quality of life. Our approach to accelerating the pace of innovation in the UK is captured in our strategy document, Concept to Commercialisation, published in May 2011. This builds on our first strategy, developed in 2008, and sets out new directions, taking into account the challenges and exciting opportunities that lie ahead. To see the new strategy please visit: Concept to Commercialisation website at: www.innovateuk.org/ourstrategy.ashx.

The Technology Strategy Board's _connect platform (see https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/guest) provides an effective and powerful way to collaborate online, network and share knowledge with other innovators. It provides a place to work together securely and share information & knowledge. Users can utilise the online tools to work collaboratively, discuss ideas and find events. The networks offer up-to-the minute news on funding, events, articles and publications, plus information about all 15 Knowledge Transfer Networks. Through the networks, users can find potential business partners, entrepreneurs, collaborators, other innovators, researchers and academics.

For background information about this competition please visit: Nutrition for Life CRD ( www.innovateuk.org/content/competition/nutrition-for-life-collaborative-rd.ashx) and Nutrition for Life FS ( www.innovateuk.org/content/competition/nutrition-for-life-feasibility-study.ashx).

The offer of funding is conditional and remains subject to the successful completion of Technology Strategy Board compliance and financial review processes.

The feasibility studies will be led by: Advanced Microwave Technologies Ltd (2 studies), Advanced Pest Solutions Ltd, Anacail Ltd, Applied Nanodetectors Ltd, Aquapharm Biodiscovery Ltd (2 studies), Asymptote Ltd, AvantiCell Science Ltd (2 studies), Baobab Africana Ltd, Gee Lawson Ltd, HeartBeet Ltd, Longhand Data Ltd, Napiers the Herbalists Ltd, Norman Pendred and Company Ltd, PML Applications Ltd, Provexis plc, R & R Tofu, SERE-Tech Innovation Ltd, Silage Solutions Ltd, Silvery Tweed Cereals Ltd, The Source Consultancy Ltd and Trioni Ltd.

The Technology Strategy Board is contributing £3,934,000 to the major projects and is funding all the feasibility studies (£554,000). EPSRC is providing support totalling £878,000 to four projects, BBSRC is sharing £695,000 between six projects, MRC is contributing a total of £500,000 to four projects, Defra is sharing £500,000 between eight projects and Scottish Enterprise is supporting one project with £56,000.

Media enquiries only should be addressed to the Technology Strategy Board's media relations consultant or manager:
Nick Sheppard, Media Relations Consultant - Mobile: 07824 599644,
Email: nick.sheppard@tsb.gov.uk 
Claire Cunningham, Media Relations Manager - Tel: 01793 442901, Mobile: 07554 115745 Email: claire.cunningham@tsb.gov.uk.

Companies and other organisations seeking information about Technology Strategy Board funding competitions should visit the Competitions page of the Technology Strategy Board website - Competitions page at: www.innovateuk.org/competitions.ashx, or email competitions@innovateuk.org or phone the Competitions Helpline at 0300 321 4357.

To subscribe to the Technology Strategy Board's RSS newsfeed please visit: RSS newsfeed at www.innovateuk.org/contact/sign-up-and-follow-us/rss.ashx.

About BBSRC

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £445M, we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk .
For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/institutes .