Functional food group joins innovation network

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Functional foods, Nutrition

A company focusing on how food could contribute to the treatment and prevention of obesity and “other chronic diseases” is the latest organization to throw its weight behind an innovation network which claims to help companies increase speed to market.

The Functional Foods Center at D&A Inc, has signed up to NineSigma’s Innovation Alliance Program, which now has more than one million members, boasts of being the largest global network of scientists and technologists, representing a variety of countries, disciplines and industries.

FFC, a research and development center in Richardson, Texas, is joined by two other new recruits; The Center for Food Innovation at Penn State University, a cooperative research venture between the food industry and academia, and the Food Technology Center at the Ministry of Trade & Industry in Egypt.

The innovation program is part of NineSigma’s worldwide network of solution providers that respond to its Requests for Proposals and Solutions service on behalf of Global 1000 companies.

The solutions service helps companies find materials or technologies that are already available on the market, while the proposals service is a system for longer-term development cycles.

NineSigma says it works with companies such as DuPont, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft, P&G, Philips, Unilever and Xerox to build new innovation capabilities that leverage research and innovation globally to deliver greater value to their customers.

Charles Brez, vice president, Innovation Alliances for NineSigma, said: “We are experiencing a tremendous amount of interest among companies in the food and consumer goods industries that are interested in participating in the global open innovation marketplace.

“Whether it is looking for ways to make chocolate less fattening, or identifying salt replacement technologies in food without impacting flavor, companies are looking for innovative ideas that will help them bring healthy products to market faster.”

NineSigma, a private company with offices in the United States, Belgium and Japan, claims that its proprietary process for open innovation enables companies to dramatically improve speed to market while lowering product development costs.

Health and wellness

Functional foods providing health and beauty benefits are experiencing overwhelming growth with Americans spending more than $27bn on such products in 2007, according to a recent report.

The average American consumer now spends $90 a year on functional foods and beverages, said the report called "Emerging Health and Wellness Culinary Trend Mapping Report" from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and Packaged Facts.

It gave the example of worldwide launches of products containing omega-3s which increased by 40 percent in the first 11 months of 2007.

In October the Functional Foods Center will hold a conference bringing together experts in medicine, biology and the food industry to discuss the contribution of functional foods in the prevention and treatment of obesity.

The 15th International Conference “Functional Foods for Chronic Diseases: (Obesity and Related Diseases)” at Southern University, Louisiana, will cover advances of phytotherapy (the use of plants or plant extracts for medicinal purposes) and food therapy for obesity and related diseases “with a special focus on the creation of functional and medicinal foods with new properties”.

Commenting on its recent addition to the innovation program, Dr Danik Martirosyan, Ph.D, founder of the Functional Foods Center, said: “NineSigma provides a great opportunity for the Functional Foods Center and our members to leverage open innovation and current functional food research and development to solve real world problems.

“Our members consist of scientists and functional food experts whose primary focus is on working with other experts and organizations to use functional foods to help diminish disease, promote health, and reduce health care costs.”

In June NineSigma announced that its Innovation Alliance Program has surpassed more than 1 million members. They can realize a variety of compensation arrangements with NineSigma clients, including R&D contracts, licensing agreements, product acquisitions and joint development.

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