The food and bio-medical sectors are two areas which are of great importance to the Danish economy and Danish society. The food sector and its companies face a number of considerable challenges. Healthy food is becoming more and more of a priority amongst consumers, accompanied by a simultaneous growing scepticism about food quality and food safety. This is happening as food production becomes steadily more industrialised and new technologies are used which enable production to be far removed from the place where the products originally come from.
Another significant aspect is the huge increase in the occurrence of life-style diseases – often caused by the excessive consumption of unheathy foods. This means that intensive research needs to be done into the link between food ingredients and health.
There is also a lot of focus on new and more effective forms of food processing. Increasing life expectancy together with a more active old age similarly present huge challenges to develop new and advanced medical products and diagnostic systems. Moreover, a lot of resources are going into the development of new drugs which are designed to attack the molecular dysfunction that is causing a particular disease.
The food industry has recognised the need to be able to develop high value foodstuffs with a knowledge content that makes them difficult to copy, as well as foodstuffs with particular nutritional properties that can meet an individual consumer’s personal nutritional requirements. At the same time, there is very fierce price competition in the food sector, among other reasons because consumers also prioritise competitive food prices.
The challenge is therefore to develop technologies and production methods that can simultaneously ensure safe and healthy food, which can be produced at a competitive price and which is of a sufficiently high quality to instill confidence in consumers. For the bio-medical sector, global competition has led to a need to develop new sophisticated products if Denmark is to retain its current leading position in the sector.
Against this background, the 2007-2009 initiative is aimed at developing safe food technologies and new, advanced forms of food processing, both resulting from work in the areas of knowledge and development, where the Institute already has a strong position, and where there is estimated to be significant market potential and demand in the longer term.