The Food and Health Innovation Service will give businesses access to scientific research carried out at several Scottish universities and institutes in a bid to enable them to develop new products targeting areas such as functional and better-for-you foods and beverages.
The new service was prompted by research commissioned by Scottish Enterprise which found that while Scotland's food and drink companies recognized the potential of the health and nutrition market, they said they lacked the R&D capabilities and food technology expertise to take advantage of new opportunities.
Maggie McGinlay, director of Scottish Enterprise's food and drink team, said innovation within the food and drink sector in Scotland had historically been lower than the UK national average.
"The global health, nutrition and wellbeing market is expected to be worth around £348 billion by 2012,” she said. "The UK market is currently worth £20 billion and Scotland's share is £1 billion of that. With the quality of our natural products and the wealth of research available in Scotland, there's no reason why our companies can't capture a larger share of both the UK and global markets.”
Paul McLaughlin, chief executive of industry body Scotland Food & Drink, added: "Scotland has a huge amount of world-renowned research, but a poor track record of turning that into products which hit the shelves. This project is our way of helping make that happen so a business is much more likely to get a project through to a commercialization stage."
The headquarters of theFood and Health Innovation Servicewill be based at the University of Aberdeen's Rowett Institute of Nutrition & Health, which is well known for its research on weight loss. Scientists at the institute worked with retailer Marks & Spencer to develop the Simply Fuller Longer range of high protein ready meals designed to promote satiety.