There is a vast amount of scientific research that could be useful for the food industry – but relatively little of it is communicated to the people who could use it, she said.
The food industry is the largest manufacturing sector in Europe, accounting for 16% of all manufacturing turnover, but it is very fragmented. The Interactive Technology Portal (ITP) – still in a pilot phase – is part of the Hightech Europe project, which aims to transfer advanced but underexploited knowledge from research to the industry, particularly to the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that make up more than 99% of the European food industry.
“We aim to identify innovations for SMEs… and to inspire and inform the industry about the latest findings,” Gering told delegates at the European Federation of Food Science and Technology (EFFoST) annual meeting in Montpellier, France last week.
The tool is intended to facilitate dialogue between scientist and industry, describing technology in an easy to understand manner and simplifying scientific papers for industry – but also asking industry to share information about its hands-on knowledge and concrete evidence about the innovation process.
“The idea is to have an open portal like Wikipedia where we get everyone involved…The more people who are involved, the more successful we will be.”
She said that getting industry involved in the project was one of its big challenges, partly because of language barriers, because the tool is currently only available in English, but also because of more figurative language barriers.
“Industry really speaks another language to scientists,” she said.
More information on the portal, which is due to be completed by the end of next year, is available online here.