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Priming Food Partnerships: Addressing challenges faced by the UK's Food and Drink Industry

10 Feb 2017

Three new multidisciplinary projects involving collaborations between academic and industry partners have been recommended for funding of a share of £1m to carry out research to stimulate technological advances that can deliver healthy nutrition for consumers.

The grants were funded by the Research Councils UKs ‘Priming Food Partnerships’ initiative which is supported by the MRC, BBSRC, EPRSC and ESRC.  The initiative supports pre-competitive research, with the ultimate aim of stimulating innovative research and technological advances of relevance to the food industry.

A ‘Sandpit’ event was held in September 2016 and was attended by 15 companies from across the food supply chain as well as 24 academics from 19 different UK research organisations. The three-day event fostered transdisciplinary partnerships across the food supply chain and stimulated the development of innovative research projects that address challenges faced by the food and drink industry.

The projects which have secured investment will develop models of digestion to inform the design of novel food products, generate multidisciplinary approaches to developing high-protein foods for healthy ageing,  and investigate the effects of reducing the fat content of foods on feelings of ‘fullness’.

Dr Des Walsh, Head of Population and Systems Medicine at the MRC, said: “We are pleased to be able to support such exciting, multidisciplinary collaborations between the academic and food industry sectors. Projects such as these will ensure that excellent science leads to improvements in the nutritional value of our food and the prevention of diet-related disease.”

Speaking on behalf of Research Council’s UK, BBSRC Chief Executive, Professor Melanie Welham said: “Food manufacturing is the UK’s single largest manufacturing sector. The food and drink supply chain is a major part of the UK economy, accounting for 7% of GDP, employing 3.7M people, and generating £80Bn per year.

The Research Councils play a vital role in priming relationships between interdisciplinary research and UK industry working across the food supply chain. We are delighted that some of the UK’s most forward thinking companies and researchers have come together to develop innovative research projects to address the challenges faced by the UK’s food and drink industry; and we hope that this initiative will grow, in turn leading to more partnership working between academia and industry.”

Professor Stephen Parry, Chair of Knowledge Transfer Network food sector group and member of the Priming Food Partnership panel of experts said: “The priming food partnership initiative is the culmination of ground-breaking work across industry, research councils and the academic community. It builds on the pre-competitive vision for the UK's food and drink industries and other initiatives placing emphasis across the whole food system. I hope and believe this is the start of new opportunities for ongoing collaboration between the food industry and academia delivering truly innovative research.”


  • Categories: Funding
  • Health categories: Metabolic
  • Strategic objectives: Lifestyles affecting health
  • Locations:
  • Type: News article