University of Nottingham
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A team of Post-doctoral researchers from The Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Food organised and led a two day conference and team building event at Seasoned Cookery School in August. 

Jo Gould, Ian Hamilton and Patrick Webb did an outstanding job in the design and execution of well-thought out activities, and for finding such an excellent location for us all to enjoy the 2 days together.

The two days brought together all members of the research cohort to brainstorm ideas, work together and build a solid foundation for the project.

The first day focused day gave the participants a different perspective on food manufacturing innovations.

One of their first challenges presented to the cohort was to consider why the industry makes our favourite food and drink the way it currently does; for example what are the restraints about the way we currently make bread and mayonnaise. What else could we make instead? What waste do existing manufacturing processes generate and how can they be reduced, or re-introduced into the process?

To put the thinking into practice, the team spent some time in the kitchen making jelly caviar and duffins, following a simple but traditional recipe. This was a great opportunity to take researchers out of their normal comfort zones; for example working with gels (hydrocolloids) in food manufacturing and actually doing some baking!

The cohort then split into smaller groups and each group was assigned a ‘research theme’ that the Centre focuses its research on. The groups then had to re-manufacture the original products according to this theme. For example, one team assigned ‘upgrading of ingredients’ created foams from mushroom mycelia and even utilised banana skin in their recipe! Another team assigned with ‘new processing technologies’ theme, utilised microwaves instead of conventional cooking means to cook their cake mixture

At the end of the ‘bake’, teams had to present their creation to the other teams and explain the innovative steps taken in the manufacture of their product. Teams were offered the opportunity to taste each other’s creations, although this wasn’t compulsory!

At the end of a very fun and lively day, the cohort enjoyed a glass of wine over a delicious BBQ prepared for by the team at Seasoned.

After the excitement of the kitchen exercise the previous day, the cohort were treated to a talk from guest speaker Jayne Brookman, Head of Food at the Knowledge Transfer Network. Jayne explained some of the history and policy behind the current landscape of food and drink manufacturing in the UK, and the importance of our work to this landscape.

The cohort then heard a couple of more talks from the Centre Director, Tim Foster, and Engagement Officer Jennie Lord about the current positioning of the Centre and the future trends steering some of our thinking and activities for resilience.

After hearing some of the challenges to food and drink manufacturing in the UK, the team then spent some time thinking of the next generation ideas that could be developed into research projects, resulting in a list of some ideas that might appeal to our industry members

In summary – the research cohort enjoyed a superb two days team building & brainstorming. It was great to get outside of the laboratory environment, into the green space and fresh air of the Catton Hall estate. This freedom fuelled the inventiveness of the group and the outcomes were extremely positive. We look forward to the continuation of this energy for the future of the project.

Posted on Thursday 31st March 2016

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