Unhealthy diets are a major contributor to the global burden of disease. The Diet and Health Open Innovation Research Club (OIRC), coordinated by the British Nutrition Foundation, aims to bring together leaders in the field to find innovative, real-life solutions to tackle the major diet and health-related challenges we face.
The UK is a global leader in nutrition research, but this must be translated into real public health benefits that change our food environment for the better in order to have an impact. To achieve this, partnerships between funders, researchers and industry are needed and such partnerships will unlock greater investment in innovation.
Funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with support from Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) has created the Diet and Health OIRC, comprised of six innovation hubs, bringing together leading academics and experts from nutrition, food and behaviour science, tackling key strategic themes to address some of the most pressing topics associated with improving the diets of our nation.
The British Nutrition Foundation is delighted to have been appointed by the BBSRC to act as a coordinator across the six innovation hubs to help facilitate conversations between the research community, industry and policymakers, identify areas where innovation and transformative thinking are needed and support the development of open, transparent collaborative partnerships.
Sara Stanner, Science Director at the British Nutrition Foundation said, “Diet-related diseases are the major killers around the world and nutrition research has provided invaluable evidence to help us understand how what we eat and drink affects our health. But to make a real impact this research must be translated into healthier and more sustainable products and improved nutrition. We’re incredibly excited to be asked to help bring together some of the top researchers in nutrition science and related fields with partners from industry to drive innovation. Collaborative working can influence the food chain from agriculture to products on shelves in order to unlock real-life benefits for people’s health and wellbeing”.
Dr Ruth Nottingham, Head of Business Engagement and Intelligence from the BBSRC said, “OIRC represents an investment of almost £15 million, created to help address critical shared barriers to innovation across the food and drink sector. The six innovation hubs will bring together world-class leaders from academia, industry and wider stakeholders to address these barriers. The coordination by the British Nutrition Foundation will enhance connectivity across the innovation hubs and ensure the findings are shared across the food system”.
The strategic priority areas for the six innovation hubs that make up the new Diet and Health OIRC are:
- understanding the interplay between food components and human physiology
- improving health and nutrition through biofortification
- biological, social and psychological determinants of food choice and eating behaviour
- development of functional foods and beverages
- understanding how food and beverages deliver improved nutrition across the life-course.
The British Nutrition Foundation urges all interested parties from academia (including Early Career Researchers), the food industry (especially Small to Medium size Enterprises), government, civil societies and charities to sign up for relevant Hubs to keep informed about workshops, meetings, events and funding calls.
For more information about the OIRC innovation hubs and the work of the club, see the editorial published by the British Nutrition Foundation in the latest issue of Nutrition Bulletin:
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