Quakenbrück - During his visit, the Minister President of Lower Saxony discussed the role of food science in the transformation process of the agri-food sector. The talks focused on how to keep value creation in the area and profit from new trends - including meat substitutes. Research, education and start-ups are crucial, he said.
The discussions were complemented by a tour. DIL’s Director Dr Volker Heinz informed the Minister President about current research projects and the site development. For example, research is focusing on new possibilities for using alternative sources of protein and fat, as well as the investigation of microplastics in complex foods. In addition to research, Weil and Heinz agree that the education at universities and universities of applied sciences as well as the founding and settlement of start-ups must be promoted - this is the only way to achieve the change to a more sustainable and at the same time competitive food system. Heinz adds: "We are offering an international master’s programme in the coming winter semester that will produce the scientists and founders of tomorrow. Networking and knowledge transfer go hand in hand here." The programme trains domestic and foreign students in the natural and food sciences.
After the official welcome, the start-ups BIOWEG and ELEA presented their work. Both companies are located at the BIQ Business and Innovation Park Quakenbrück and thus in the direct vicinity of the DIL. ELEA sells high-performance pulse technology with which, for example, potatoes can be processed in a resource-saving way. And BIOWEG has been researching how microplastics can be replaced by bio-based materials since 2019. The subsequent tour took Minister President Stephan Weil first to the laboratories of the food physics department. Here, department head Dr. Ute Bindrich explained the role that imaging methods such as electron microscopy play in the production of food with certain quality characteristics. For example, physical analytics makes it possible to produce mayonnaise with less fat but the same taste.
How and in what quantity do smallest plastic particles get into drinking water and food? This is what Dr Andreas Juadjur and his team are researching in the newly created Competence Centre for Microplastics. In the long term, the research work will help to ensure that less plastic gets into our food during processing, storage and transport.
The visit to the department of process engineering focused on vegetable proteins and fats, which have experienced a significant increase in demand, not least thanks to the Corona pandemic. Dr Volker Lammers presented extrusion as the preferred manufacturing process when it comes to producing meat-like structures. The infrastructure for the development of so-called meat substitutes has been in place since last year, when the technology centre "Proteins of the Future" was inaugurated. The processing of even little or previously unused protein sources offers interesting market opportunities for the domestic food industry, says Lammers.
Minister President Weil was pleased with the research infrastructure he found in Quakenbrück and the start-up spirit at the Artland Campus: "Lower Saxony, as the number one agricultural state in Germany, has an innovation driver in the DIL that helps to ensure competitiveness, especially in times of change in the food system."