Translating science into commercial products is an important part of the process, and something that The Smarter Food Company, a spin-out from Norwich Research Park, is working on with the creation of foods with health benefits.
Norwich Research Park is rightly revered for its world-leading science carried out at the institutes, university and university hospital it hosts. And it is also the birthplace of an increasing number of high-growth businesses that have translated the research undertaken at the Park into commercial enterprises.
It’s particularly important for food-based research to be commercialised because in most cases it requires significant investment to bring any resulting new product, technology or innovation to market.
For many researchers, their goal is for their work to make an impact. Setting up a business or social enterprise or partnering with a company to maximise their research outcomes, can be a good way of achieving this desired, sustainable, long-term impact. Commercialisation can also be a powerful way of continuing the funding into further research such as supporting postdoctoral researchers and research assistants.
The Smarter Food Company is one such high-growth business that is looking to make an impact. It was established two years ago to develop foods with clear health benefits. Its first product, SmarterNaturally vegetable soup, uses a unique variety of broccoli that has a high level of a naturally occurring compound – Glucoraphanin – that research suggests can have a beneficial impact on a range of health indicators, including helping to maintain healthy blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Research also suggests that Glucoraphanin may have a beneficial impact on various cancers, including prostate and breast cancer. The Smarter Food Company is undertaking further clinical trials to confirm the data it already has regarding blood glucose reduction.
The Smarter Food Company was set up to bring research developed by the Quadram Institute at Norwich Research Park to market in the form of consumable products, and is using technology licensed to the Quadram Institute in its methodology.
The company is growing a new type of broccoli variety, developed using traditional breeding methods, and this is being incorporated into its soup. The first soup will go on sale in the next few weeks, supplies are limited and the company has a waiting list if you are interested to purchase (smarternaturally.com).
Consuming just one portion of its vegetable soup per week could provide health benefits to those at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by reducing elevated blood glucose to normal levels.
The company initially secured funding from Norwich Research Park’s Translational Fund to get started and subsequently was successful in attracting seed funding from three professional investment vehicles, private investors and a grant from Innovate UK to establish itself.
Laura Knight, CEO, said: “The research the Quadram Institute has conducted over the years into how the human body responds to different compounds needs to be translated into real-life applications that will bring health benefits to communities.
“Manufacturing foodstuffs for mass consumption requires significant investment, so forming a business to deliver this is probably the most effective way of getting products to market.
“We are privileged to have access to facilities at the John Innes Centre and Centrum at Norwich Research Park. The sheer scale of world-leading research being undertaken at the Park suggests that there could be a huge number of opportunities to create new businesses.”
Image Credit: The Smarter Food Company