Industry-University partnership is more often talked about with very little progress at the ground level. There is a basic mistrust of the industry by the scientific community and the reason is the divergent view about the value of research. While scientists work for pushing the frontiers of knowledge further and further, industry's perception is invariably is about its bottom line, expanding the profit margin further and further! Is there a meeting ground between these two diametrically opposite views? It looks like there is a convergence as evidenced by the visionary R & D projects being sponsored in Denmark for undertaking industry oriented research work as a collaborative venture between universities and industry players. This consortium approach if adopted in other countries too, the food industry can scale new heights by gaining consumer confidence in a big way.
'2011 will bring with it a series of new research activities in the Department of Food Science at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University. The new projects are part of the research platform inSPIRe (Danish Industry-Science Partnership for Innovation and Research in Food Science), which is established with support from the Danish Council for Strategic Research and the Danish Council for Technology and Innovation and will be led by the Technical University of Denmark. In the new projects, the scientists from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences will, in particular, focus on research in milk quality, spreadable products, and improved quality of partially processed fruit and vegetable products. The projects include a number of companies and industry-related organisations, i.e. Arla Foods, Foss, AarhusKarlshamn, Agrotech, Danish Cattle, Danish Dairy Research Foundation, and the Research Union for Fruit, Vegetables and Potatoes. Other projects in the InSPIRe platform involve a range of other Danish food companies, ingredient suppliers and suppliers of equipment for the food industry. It is outstanding to see such a massive effort in food technology and to have established such a strong consortium in the area. We really look forward to getting started, says head of research unit Grith Mortensen from the Department of Food Science".
Though on paper such a strategy looks very impressive, in practical terms how the differing perceptions of scientists and industry players can be reconciled remains to be seen. Innovations in private sector are invariably patented so that the investment on research can be recovered over a period of time. What will happen to the outcome of these research projects and what benefits the researchers will have for their efforts are grey areas. Nonetheless the very fact that they have joined together for the national cause proves a point that given the motivation people are capable of putting in superlative efforts to attain the goal.