Biased by industry? Do academic and business collaborations work?

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By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: University, Scientific method, Research

Like many areas of nutrition research, probiotic and prebiotic science relies on strong collaboration between academic experts and businesses. But there are some who say such links create biased science.

Recent reports that top scientific advisors may be influenced by links to ‘big food’ have generated a huge amount of debate over the role that academics and industrial researchers have in developing new science on the role of diet in health, and in particular in rigorously testing new products and developments for their potential health benefits.

Speaking to NutraIngredients at the recent Probiota 2015 event in Amsterdam, top academics and business leaders came together to explain why they believe it is vital that the links between academia and industry remain strong, but impartial.

Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and 'germvangelist' said that parnerships with industry and academia are a good thing in principle, but warned that while it is 'wonderful' to have a parnertship, an academic must stay firm in getting to the cvorrect research findings.

Professor Bob Rastall, from the University of Reading noted that partnerships between a university and a company can help to translate basic research in to somehting that can be used and be beneficial for people.

"At the end of the day, I want my research to be useful, I want to have an impact, and that means getting it out there via the food industry,"​ commented Rastall.

Meanwhile Dr Thomas Tompkins, R&D director at Lallemand suggested that a firm that does all of it's research internally could potentially be seen as being biased, adding that it is good that companies can work with leading experts and specialists in different fields - without always needing to have that expertise internally.

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