Food giants invest in pre-competitive research

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Gut flora

Nestlé, Kellogg, Danone, Christian Hansen, and Fromageries Bel will work in partnership with TI Food & Nutrition to provide strategic research and innovation in probiotics development.

The five industry giants and TI Food and Nutrition in the Netherlands – an institute part funded by the industry and government – will combine their resources to carry out pre competitive basic level scientific research into gastrointestinal health and the effects of probiotics.

Several other large companies including Unilever, FrieslandCampina, VION, DSM and CSM are already in active partnership with TI Food and Nutrition on other research projects.

“We are committed to a structured approach to pre-competitive applied research of strategic importance to our industry partners,”​ said Jan Maat, Managing Director of TI Food and Nutrition

Maat said the program “enables our partners to select and invest in the research that offers them the greatest innovation potential in line with their business development strategies and R&D capabilities.”

Fundamental research

According to Chr. Hansen, the partnership with TI Food and Nutrition – due to begin in January 2011 – will focus on “further disclosing the sophisticated mechanisms of the human gut.”

“TI Food and Nutrition is a recognized research leader with internationally renowned scientific experts in its network. The partnership will not enable us to offer new, scientifically documented probiotic solutions right away. Rather, we expect this initiative to bring the fundamental, pre-competitive probiotic research to the next level, bridging it with current challenges in the food, nutrition and pharmaceutical industries,” ​said Benedicte Flambard, head of R&D for Christian Hansen’s Health & Nutrition Division.

“The benefit of this project is that the probiotic field is multi-platform, you need to be an expert in many different fields. It’s very cross functional, but if you put people together from these areas, then it can help solve these problems,” ​said Flambard.

“All of the industrial partners have the same problems, so we can work together to create pre- competitive generalised knowledge,” ​she added.

Product development

As an industrial sponsors, Chr. Hansen said the companies will have the rights to any intellectual property resulting from the partnership, which also allows “immediate industrial implementation”​ of results or technologies developed through the collaborations.

“We can take any generic, pre- competitive findings from the partnership, and apply them in our own R&D and product development in our own facilities,”​ said Flambard.

Improving knowledge

The four year partnership will work together on research in five specific projects that will help to improve knowledge about the role of probiotics in the gut.

These include, investigating useful biomarkers for probiotics health effects, researching how the immune barriers of the gut function, looking into the metabolism and energy balances of microbiota, and investigating the wider roles of pro- and pre- biotics on intestinal tissues.

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