New research alliance unveiled to help meet Scotland's health challenges



Healthy food

Heriot-Watt’s research expertise in food structure and adding value to waste are to be utilised as part of a new collaborative alliance.

Stephen Euston, Professor of Food & Beverage Technology at the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, is part of the Scottish Alliance for Food: health, equity and sustainability (SCAF) led by the University of Glasgow.

SCAF will explore nutrition, food security, and food system sustainability as part of the Alliances for Research Challenges (ARC) launched today by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

The first three ARCs to be established are for food, brain health and energy, with each project receiving up to £600,000 funding for four years from the SFC. The investment will enable researchers to create multi-disciplinary, cross-sector teams to strengthen and accelerate bids for major research grants, including funding from overseas.

The projects mark the beginning of a new approach to collaborative research in Scotland by connecting the country’s research excellence to national challenges.

Working closely with partners, including fellow higher education institutions and third sector organisations, Professor Euston will use his expertise in food structure and reformulation as well as how to reduce food waste to design heathier, more sustainable foods.

Giving his reaction to the ARC partnership, Professor Euston said: “Manufacturers routinely reduce fat, salt and carbohydrate in their foods to make them healthier, but there is potential for novel strategies to enhance uptake and acceptability. The drive to replace animal protein with alternative protein sources for sustainability reasons, means there is a need for research to understand the effect of partial and full replacement on the texture, nutritional quality and consumer acceptance of these new foods."

The challenges each alliance will address include some of the biggest questions facing governments across the world, such as how to manage food supply chains and how to help people maintain good cognitive health in old age.

Helen Cross, SFC’s Director of Research and Innovation, said: “ARCs will make exciting and dynamic links between people, institutions and disciplines. In doing so they will place Scottish research in a strong position to generate new funding through successful bids to research grants in the UK, Europe and beyond.

“The ARCs are also designed to connect the priorities of the Scottish Government with areas of strength within our publicly funded research system.”

Looking to the future, the Scottish Funding Council views ARCs as a fundamental part of a research system that includes Research Pools, Innovation Centres, research institutes, industry partners, third-sector collaborators and policymakers. Also in development is an alliance to examine the best uses of emerging quantum technologies in areas such as computing, communications and healthcare.


Craig McManamon

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