The overall objective of the EMMC - FIPDes is to provide top-level and up-to-date education that qualifies the graduates to cope with the huge challenges in the sector of food innovation along with product design and packaging, while developing the aptitude to adapt to future developments.
The food and drink industry is one of Europe’s most important and dynamic industrial sectors. To maintain its position and improve its share on world markets the industry requires greater use of technical know- how and a considerable strengthening of its capacity for innovation.1 Enterprises have to put more emphasis on R&D to compete with the US and to do so they need personnel trained in research and innovation.
At the same time, as a result of a changing European population in terms of age and occupation, food and drink processors face constant change in consumer demands, with health issues constituting a major
consumer concern. While partly related to an ageing society, food safety issues as well as obesity and allergen reactions have increased awareness of the relationship between food and health. This trend is leading to the growth of foods with specific properties and is also positively influencing the sales of organic foods.
Although price remains a key criterion in purchasing decisions, pleasure, quality and convenience are driving factors of market evolution. Changes in consumer lifestyles are increasing the interest for foods and/or drinks that are easier to prepare, serve, eat, and that are both immediately available and portable.
The food and drink sector is thus continuously facing change. Food product differentiation as well as the ability to satisfy evolving consumer requirements will be essential to ensuring market competitiveness and survival.
Over the coming years, agrifood enterprises across the world will need to address the numerous
challenges of globalisation. Behind this globalisation, questions of sustainability increase the complexity of innovative approaches in the food production and distribution. New skills will be required to both decrease our consumption in resources and provide food for increasing numbers of people4.
Innovation at every stage along the value chain will be critical to the future development of the food
industry. A significant enhancement and substantially increased investment in the area of R&D is thus a
key for industry and apriority.
The state of the art in product design and food innovation
New product development combines strategic and organizational actions with technical effort, the former dealing with the management of the development process, strategic placement and launching of the new product, the latter concerned with the design of the product and its manufacturing process (Costa et al.,2006). From a practical point of view, the design of a new product involves the interaction of two major pillars: (i) composition and properties and (ii) processing, storage and usage conditions. Both contribute to the overall quality of the product. In parallel, new product development should result in a customer-centred product. The increase in the knowledge of human metabolism in health science leads to a greater need for
bioactive ingredients in the form of functional foods. At the same time, satisfying customers involves the mastery of culinary approaches and molecular gastronomy in order to act upon the organoleptic features of the product.
Another issue in process innovation is to deal with environmental challenges to improve the sustainability of the business. The increased production volume of food packaging has prompted the European Community to develop a policy designed to limit the quantities of materials used, to promote reusage and recycling of packaging. Designers should be able to comprehensively identify the best solutions for specific new packaging. The best solution depends on the packaged products and their environmental impacts and depends on the overall packaging system (secondary and tertiary). Holistic approaches to be adopted include taking into account distribution requirements that may lead to choices of different primary packaging designs to those which would be made if we did not adopt this holistic vision.
The educational issues
Food innovation comprises “functionalization” in order to endow products with specific health-enhancing properties, calling upon new processing techniques and packaging decisions. Young people interested in the field of food product design need a good background in each of the following areas: food science and technology, managerial and consumer science, health and sustainability issues. The proposed Erasmus Mundus Master Course in Food Innovation and Product Design (EMMC-FIPDes) has been developed to match these needs. EMMC-FIPDes aims to offer high quality international training, both in terms of scientific knowledge as well as in didactic skills, provided by a limited number of excellent university groups within the EU in the field of food science and product design.
The EMMC-FIPDes aims at providing a European dimension in the knowledge-intensive area of food
Research & Development which is operating internationally. It will meet the need for highly qualified graduates as well as helping adapt educational systems to the demands of the knowledge society. It will thus enhance the attractiveness and visibility of European higher education worldwide and stimulate the process of convergence of degree structures across Europe. The EMMC-FIPDes aims at training students who wish to contribute to the development of innovative, sustainable and healthy food products. Graduates will be able to find positions in and outside Europe, either in their country or in a national branch of an international food brand.
To date, the EU offers very few advanced programmes in food innovation and/or product design. The
Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) offers a national Master in “Life Sciences” with a M2
specialisation in “Food and Beverage Innovation” (www.lsfm.zhaw.ch /master) but does not treat product design as a major component of innovation. Wageningen University (WUR) offers a national Master in “Food Technology” with M2 specialisations in “Gastronomy,” “Food innovation and management” and “Product design”. It also offers a joint M2 specialisation, “European Master Degree in Food Studies” (developed with AgroParisTech, Lund and Cork Universities), mainly focused on food technology and product development rather than on innovation management (www.eurmscfood.nl). This master leads to the only WUR diploma. Finally, the EMMC Sefotech in “Food Science, Technology and Nutrition” (http://www.sefotechnut.org) presents trends of Food Science &Technology and health issues in a global context but offers M2 modules focused only on specific food fields (i.e. cereals, meet, fats & oils, food safety, etc.).
All these programmes are thus aimed at training students either in food innovation management or in food technology but none merges the aspects of food innovation and product design, nor do they offer courses treating the essential interests of packaging sustainability or innovative culinary approaches.
The EMMC-FIPDes added value
is its integrated approach “from materials to packaged product”, including technical, entrepreneurial and
theoretical knowledge in food innovation merged in a teamwork-based learning system. Sustainability
issues are approached in M1 and specifically treated in one of the three available M2 options dealing with food packaging design and logistics. Moreover, the culinary and molecular gastronomy approach is fully integrated into the food design philosophy and will offer interesting and complementary skills for innovation.
The added value and the course contribution to the education and career development is also depicted through a specialised semester offering an industrial/research-based placement in a company or a R&D laboratory in a partner’s or associate member’s institution. This practical semester, along with their involvement with food companies, will assure the students of professional competence and enhanced
employability. External lecturers invited from other institutions of higher education (from EU and third countries), industry, and companies will highly improve students’ creativity and innovation skills while opening their minds to the global food issue.
The Joint FIPDes EMM Course is scheduled over two academic years and will result in the accumulation of 120 ECTS credits.
The aim of the first study year (M1) is to provide a thorough and broad introduction to both food science & technology and innovation management, so as to assure mastery of core-knowledge in these fields.
Mandatory mobility is a fundamental aspect of our approach applicable to all students. Students will attend the first semester of M1 at AgroParisTech (Paris, France) and the second at DIT (Dublin, Ireland).
A strong point of integration among partners and students is the compulsory introduction module,
which will be organized at the beginning of the first semester at AgroParisTech (France) to present the teaching staff from all Consortium institutions and give students practical tips for their stay.
Introductory lectures on the main challenges of food innovation will be given by the teaching staff of Consortium institutions and by guest lecturers from the professional sector. A seminar on food culture will be given to introduce European food culture, society and R&D issues.
In addition to the compulsory core courses, students will choose two optional modules among a list already available in the national AgroParisTech master. This degree of freedom will make it possible for students to develop specific skills in line with their professional project. During the first year of study (M1) students participate in a junior project, a double module covering the two semesters. Teams of students are in charge of managing a practical R&D project related to innovation with the assistance of a professional.
They build their project progressively thank to the different knowledge and skills acquired in both universities.
This joint module strongly structures the first year. The complementary fields covered by DIT and
AgroParisTech modules will make it possible to achieve the junior project goals with success, another added value of mobility.
The second study year (M2) offers three specialisation pathways (options) concerning strategic and
emerging sectors of food product innovation. Each option is based on the partner universities’
research and teaching strengths and can welcome a maximum of seven students. The orientation and
selection of students will be made during M1 by the Consortium Committee. A salient feature of the M2 courses is the close co-operation with industry and interacting within active learning environments.
Detailed description of the course implementation and module description is given in Annex A1-1.
The three options are:
1- Food design and health: Students will attend courses at UNINA (Napoli, Italy). The main goal of this option is to train students in developing functional foods addressing specific health needs (such as hypoallergenicity). They will also receive basic knowledge in food regulations related to health claims. Furthermore, the objective is to provide the students with knowledge in food culture and culinary traditions of Mediterranean countries.
2- Food design and engineering: Students will attend courses at AgroParisTech (Paris, France). The main objective of this option is to give students knowledge and technical skills for process-based food design in order to understand, choose, design and optimise degrees of freedoms on food manufacturing operations. The development of food quality by combining formulation and processing is a key figure of the specialisation. The senior project module strongly structures the student active learning by mobilising theoretical and practical knowledge.
3- Food Packaging Design, Students will attend courses at Lund University (Lund, Sweden).The main objective of this option is to give students knowledge of an integrated systems view of food packaging design in a value chain perspective. The main objective can be divided into sub-objectives which aim at giving students a basic knowledge in packaging technology and development, based on user requirements, product requirements and sustainable development around the package. Furthermore, the objective is to provide the student with in-depth knowledge in how packaging systems influence food supply chains and vice versa, i.e. packaging logistics. The teaching is problem-based which rives the student to investigate the central concepts and principles treated in the course module to gain advanced skills in analyzing complex systems, especially packaging and logistics systems, and carrying out projects in real life.
Strong points of the EMMC-FIPDes:
As shown in the previous scheme, a transversal joint module of Molecular Gastronomy will run over the first two options. This module has been expressly designed for the EMM-FIPDes Course and will be run by the French and Italian partners. This transversal option will be assured by visio- conferences organised by the associate Partners INRA (Hervé This) and Teagasc (Juan Valverde). Practical experiments will be run in parallel at the Italian and French universities. A second transversal joint module of Innovation Integrated Food & Packaging Project will be proposed over second and third options. This module will be run by the Swedish and French partners and co-designed by the two teams. Projects in New Product Development will be proposed to the students and mixed teams will be constituted, composed of two students in France and two students in Sweden. The Swedish part of the team will support the packaging development and the French part will develop the new food. Visio-conferences will be organised for presentations of specific knowledge required to conduct the projects. Students’ teams will have access to free collaborative platforms.
Whatever the specialisation chosen, during the third semester (S3), students will undertake an M2 senior project strictly related to the specialisation issues. This module is called “senior” due to the experience gained during M1. Student teams will be in charge of managing an R&D innovation project in close relationship with a food company. The learning outcomes of these modules will enable students to successfully handle the training period of semester four.
During the fourth semester, students will carry out the training research period (30 ECTS) which will lead to the writing of the Msc Thesis. Topics will be proposed by the EMMC scientific committee and will concern an R&D innovation study developed with the industrial partners and academic associate members. This training period can thus be carried out within the Consortium or one of the Third Country associate members.
Finally, the structure of the joint master is built in such a manner that mobility is learning pathway chosen by each student. It will allow them to accumulate appropriate expertise present in four leading EU institutions to develop a unique professional profile which could not be developed in any one country. One can add that the particular choice of partners is well adapted to this goal as our Consortium includes representatives from Sweden, Italy, France and Ireland, each with the specific cultural and gastronomic history and habits.