A Valuable Resource for Canadian Manufacturers

On May 1 of this year HighTech Europe launched their “Food Tech Innovation Portal.” The portal is a free compilation of food processing resources, information and tools for innovation.

HighTech Europe, the parent program, is a food processing excellence network consisting of 22 organizations (21 from Europe, 1 from Australia). The FoodTech Innovation Portal (FTIP) is one of many projects funded by HighTech Europe which is currently operating with a contribution from the European Commission of €5.87 billion ($7.89 billion) over 56 months.

The FTIP was four years in development.  Its objective is to provide a central address with bundled information for those interested in innovation, including open innovation. The FTIP supports the implementation of new technologies and thus fosters the competitiveness of the European food sector. Small and medium sized companies are especially encouraged to use the resources of the portal as they often possess limited internal resources.

As a comprehensive and detailed go-to centre, the Portal lists 205 distinct technologies related to food processing.  The list extends from acrylamide mitigation strategies to X-ray for non-invasive food quality control.  The technologies can be sorted alphabetically or by principle (physical, chemical, biological), or by type of operation (separation, stabilization, structure formation, conversion, packaging) or by innovation source (information & communication technology, nanotechnology, biotechnology).

Each technology listing contains a description of the technology, the principles behind it, where it can be used, where it cannot be used, its status, resource centres with capabilities and references to experts in the field.

Another interesting feature of the Portal is the innovation “tool box” or “road map” that is available under the “Innovation Guide” heading.  This feature should be exceeding valuable to smaller companies or to anyone interested in taking a more disciplined approach to innovation.

The “Tool Box” consists of a matrix containing the four stages of innovation: Pre-feasibility, Feasibility, Development and Launching.  Each of these stages is broken down into issues about technical, legal, financial, marketing and management.  Perhaps of even more significance is the check list of questions between each stage of the innovation process designed to encourage a company to avoid prematurely moving to the next stage.

A final point about the FTIP is the ability of an interested organization to join, at no cost, as an “Associated Member” and post its own profile page and promote its own capabilities internationally.  This status is required to obtain access to the contact information of the portal resources.  At present there are 11 Canadian Associated Members.