Success Stories

Since 2013, Swiss Food Research has evaluated 104 projects with experts and funded 57 projects with a total of CHF 507,500.
70% of the projects funded by Swiss Food Research were continued.

Examples

How to better protect the quality of food trough packaging? Technologies beyond the barrier function of packaging!

ZHAW, Omya and Micarna have been evaluating the potential of functionalized calcium carbonate as carrier for essential oils with regard to antimicrobial packaging applications. With the SFR Call grant a preliminary test helped to apply and receive an Innosuisse funding.

Interview with project partners: Yildirim Selçuk, ZHAW and Fabien Monnard, OMYA

What was the scientific or technological project, for which you were looking for answers?

We aimed to develop an active packaging systems to better protect the quality of food and ensure its safety.

At what stage was your innovation idea and why did you apply? It was at the idea phase. We wanted to show the proof of concept of our idea on the one hand and on the other hand get feedback from SFR Experts for the suitability of the project for Innosuisse funding.

Who were your partners in the project and how did you find them?

OMYA AG and Micarna SA. With both we had collaborations before.

How did the call support your Idea/Project development and what are the next steps?

With the SFR seed money we did preliminary tests and applied for Innosuisse funding. We received the funding from Innosuisse and we are approaching to the end of the project. At the moment we are working on the scale-up of the production process to industrial scale.

Efficient protein extraction from Moringa

Innosuisse supports the Vitarbo company from Arbon in the development of an industrially scalable process for protein extraction from fresh Moringa leaves. Moringa leaves are a sustainable and highly efficient protein source for the food and feed industry. The project is being carried out in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences for Agriculture, Forestry and Food Sciences (BFH-HAFL) and Agroscope.

In the approved Innosuisse innovation project "Molein - Moringa Leaf Protein", Vitarbo AG is working together with the University of Applied Sciences for Agriculture, Forestry and Food (BFH-HAFL). The teams involved, led by Prof. Daniel Heine (food fermentation) and Prof. Christoph Denkel (food process engineering), have broad know-how and expertise in the production and analysis, structuring and upgrading of plant proteins.Together with the research partner Agroscope (Research Group Cultures, Biodiversity and Terroir), the possibility of using fermentations for a higher functionality of the protein obtained is also being investigated.

Up to 80% protein purity

Within the scope of the investigated protein extraction from moringa leaves, processes for the targeted comminution, separation of plant fibres and gentle purification processes are being developed. In addition, biological process strategies such as fermentation and enzymatics are used to enhance the value of the plant proteins. The aim is to obtain protein powders of different purities (60-80 % protein content) and solubilities, ideally with optimal sensory properties.

Up-Scaling and PhD position

During 3 years the research teams will work in different work packages on protein production, protein characterization, upgrading of by-products, transfer to large-scale technical scale and commercial implementation. A doctoral position is planned from mid 2020.

Feasibility study of a smartphone application for disease detection for plants

With the money from the Research Call 2019, Agroscope was able to continue the LEAFEYE project, which aims at the simple and robust early detection of diseases and pests. With the know-how of the CSEM (Centre Suisse de d'Electronique et de Microtechnique), a neural network for the detection and classification of different stages was established. The goal is to analyze the images taken with a cheap, mobile microscope through the app. This should relieve specialists in big scale vegetable, wine and plant production and allow hobby gardeners to use pesticides correctly and without overdosing. The project is about to be ready for the market.

Interview with Philipp Schmid, CSEM

1. What does your project intend to do and in which phase was the project before the Research Call?

It is about a simple, scalable and robust early detection of diseases and pests on plant leaves. On one hand, the intention is to relieve specialized (and therefore expensive) experts, as their work can be taken over by untrained staff in the greenhouses. On the other hand, it enables the ambitious hobby gardener at home to use pesticides correctly and without overdosing. Before the Call, it was an innovative idea from Agroscope, who did not have the necessary know-how to implement it. CSEM already had experience in the application of neural networks for the detection and classification of various objects (medical screws, tomato, defects on polished surfaces).

2. What motivated you (or the project team) to submit a Research Call to Swiss Food Research?

The opportunity to test an idea with a competent partner without major bureaucratic hurdles was what motivated us to do so. The tips and constructive suggestions from the experts at Swiss Food Research during implementation are a great advantage and we are grateful for them.

3. Which research questions, and with which partners (research institutes, industry, others), were answered?

Is it possible, despite difficult image acquisition conditions in the greenhouse (light conditions, resolution, environmental conditions), to determine precisely the large natural variance of the pests with an inexpensive system through robust localisation and classification. Agroscope has taken care of the entire image acquisition and then annotated the images with the correct labels. CSEM adapted its own label tool, developed the deep learning architecture and processed the images with the new software.

4. What did the research Call bring and what further developments can be traced back to the Call?

There is now a neural network that can detect and classify 7 pests (mildew, spider mite in 3 different stages of development, eggs, thrips, whitefly). The picture can be taken with a cheap (~100 CHF), mobile microscope. The analysis is either done locally on the smartphone or directly in the cloud. Many images were taken, correctly annotated and processed. The results of this study will now be presented to potential industry partners in Switzerland. In a joint further development, the application is to be expanded and launched on the market.

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A controlled process for the production of margarine of the highest quality.

As part of an InnoSuisse project with Egli Prozesstechnik AG, NTB Buchs developed an innovative CO2 flow boiling multi-stage scraping heat exchanger which achieves extremely high cooling rates and allows the temperature profiles in the scraping heat exchangers to be set in a stable and controllable manner. This allows the crystallization of the margarine to be controlled in a targeted manner. An InnoSuisse Project: Egli AG, ETHZ and NTB Buchs.

Interview with Prof. Christoph Würsch, Institute for Computational Engineering, NTB Buchs

What does your project intend and in which phase was the project before it became an InnoSuisse project?

Mr. Rudenz Egli, owner and CEO of the company, came directly to the Institute for Energy Systems IES of NTB Buchs with the idea for an improved, more stable cooling circuit for the heat exchangers. In discussion with Dr. Peter Braun from Swiss FoodResearch and Prof. Erich Windhab from the Institute of Food Sciences at ETH Zurich, the project idea for an innovation project at CTI was developed with the aim of optimising the overall process. In our opinion, the result was a very successful innovation project between Egli AG, ETHZ and NTB Buchs.

What motivated you (or the project team) to work with Swiss Food Research?

FoodTech is a very innovative, current field of research - especially in Switzerland. For this reason, we decided to become a member of Swiss Food Research as an NTB. Many areas of system technology can contribute to optimizing processes or developing new products or components. We want to enter this market. We benefit from Swiss Food Research's network through initial contacts with potential customers, our consulting expertise and ideas for new projects.

Which research questions and with which partners (research institutes, industry, others) were answered?

Is it possible to further improve the cooling rates of scraped heat exchangers that have been optimised for 50 years? Is it possible to model the crystallization process of the fats inside the scraped heat exchangers and use it as a real-time process model for process control? The answer is twice yes. The disadvantage is that the process parameters for each material system have to be recorded empirically for the first time (parameter identification).

How did the collaboration with Swiss Food Research affect the project and what further developments/results can be traced back to it?

Swiss Food Research networked us with the best partner who could provide the missing know-how in the field of fat analysis and fat crystallization, the Institute for Food Sciences of Prof. Erich Windhab of ETHZ. Thanks to the possibilities of at-line and in-line analysis of the viscosity and solids content of margarine, the process model was validated in the first place.

Sustainable optimization of commercial deep-frying

The life-cycle of deep-frying oil in gastronomy is severely limited. Complex degradation and reaction processes lead to sensory and chemical spoilage of the oil during frying. As part of an Innosuisse project, a frying system has been developed that can keep oil quality at a constant tolerable level. An INNOPROJECT with Gastrofrit & SV-Group and ZHAW - Research Group Food Technology

Interview with Nadina Müller, ZHAW, Project Manager

What is the intention of the project and in which phase was the project before you sought the support of Swiss Food Research?

The industrial partner (Gastrofrit, a Swiss deep fryer manufacturer) wanted to develop a deep fryer for the catering industry that no longer produces waste oil. No chemical additives were allowed to be used, i.e. purely physical measures such as oxidation protection, filtration or crystallization, together with natural oil renewal, were to ensure that no more frying oil had to be disposed of. Gastrofrit approached the ZHAW with this idea.

What motivated you (or the project team) to seek support from InnoSuisse and Swiss Food Research?

The research effort for such a project is high. Only by financing InnoSuisse (formerly CTI) Gastrofrit as an SME was able to finance this research work. Swiss Food Research provided support, in particular for the implementation of the ideas in concrete formulations of the application as well as the correct structure of the research project and the necessary work packages with the cost estimates.

Which research questions and with which partners (research institutes, industry, others) were answered?

The most important question was: How can the spoilage reaction of the deep-frying oil at the prevailing high temperatures be kept at an acceptable, low level with purely physical processes and automated methods? Once these methods have been found, they must be able to be implemented in a commercial deep fryer and sustainably used in the tough daily routine of catering kitchens.

The research partner is the ILGI, Institute for Food and Drink Innovation of the ZHAW in Wädenswil, industrial partner, on the one hand Gastrofrit, with the task of integrating the process to be developed into the deep fryer, and on the other hand the SV-Group as one of the largest Swiss catering companies to test the deep fryer in practice.

What has the support achieved and what further development/what use is planned?

The support has led to a correct and convincing application. Above all, strong support and motivation were provided for a second submission to continue the project. A third prototype for "field trials" is currently under construction. It will be used at the InnoSuisse partner, SV-Group Switzerland in a highly frequented community catering location.

At the same time, a patent is being sought. The main goal for the industrial partner is to open up new international markets for system catering and thus to offer fry-heavy productions sustainability through regenerated oil. The newly developed component will be integrated into an existing Gastrofrit frying station (Modell OLFO).

Influence of fermentation on the quality of coffee

A longer fermentation in the post-harvest process has a positive influence on the quality of the coffee. Project funding by INNOCHEQUE. Business partner: Kaffeemacher AG Research Partner: ZHAW - Food Biotechnology Research Group

Interview with the project team: ZHAW, Susanne Miescher Schwenninger, Susette Freimüller Leischtfeld, Sebastian Opitz, Chahan Yeretzian
Kaffeemacher AG, Philipp Schallberger

What does the project intend and in which phase was the project before the Research Call?

In this project we investigate the influence of the fermentation of coffee cherries as part of the post-harvest process on the quality of roasted coffee. The post-harvest process, which takes place immediately after the coffee cherries have been harvested, takes place entirely in the growing countries. The traditional process consists of several steps, whereby the pulp must be separated from the coffee beans shortly after harvesting. After this so-called "depulping", the coffee beans are washed in a fermentation process to remove any remaining pulp, dried and prepared for export. Now even a small change in the process can lead to changes in the composition of the green coffee, which in turn affect the quality of the roasted coffee and ultimately also the coffee drink. In this project we have compared two post-harvest processes, the traditional and the Reposo process. In the innovative Reposo process, a resting phase of the coffee cherries in closed tanks for 40 hours was inserted at the beginning, which extended the entire process accordingly. Prior to the project, we only had sensory evidence that the Reposo process improved the quality of the coffee. However, it was not clear what microbiological and chemical processes during fermentation contribute to these changes. These processes should be further investigated.

What motivated you (or the project team) to submit a project to Innosuisse?

It has long been known in sensory terms that the post-harvest process of coffee cherries has a significant influence on the sensory profile, quality and ultimately price of green and roasted coffee. The chemical products in the fermentation of coffee cherries are precursors of the coffee aroma, which only lead to the formation of aroma compounds during the roasting process. Our motivation is to understand the basic microbiological and chemical processes involved in the fermentation of coffee cherries and to relate them to the sensory characteristics and changes in the cup. There are several ways to influence the properties and quality of coffee by modifying it in the post-harvest process. One of these possibilities is offered by the fermentation step as a sub-process of the washed preparation, which is still very little researched and understood. The company Kaffeemacher GmbH (Münchenstein) started its own fermentation trials with its Santa Rita farm in Nicaragua. Through the network of Swiss Food Research, a cooperation with the ZHAW could be initiated to underpin the project with excellent expertise in the field of fermentation and microbiology in the Food Biotechnology Research Group as well as expertise in the processing and analysis of coffee at the Coffee Excellence Center. Thus the idea grew into a successful Innocheque project (Innosuisse).

Which research questions and with which partners (research institutes, industry, others) were answered? With which specific modification of the post-harvest process, especially by inserting a reposo, is it possible to increase the quality of the roasted coffee?

We were able to confirm that this resting phase of the coffee cherries before the actual processing has a significant influence on the composition of the green coffee bean. Ultimately, increased microbial activity over a longer period of time led to lower pH values in the Reposo process compared to the traditional process. On the other hand, differences in the composition of the ingredients in the coffee could also be detected. While no significant difference in the sugar composition was found, the longer fermentation led to an increase in organic acids in the green coffee from the Reposo process. In addition, the Reposo coffees were characterised by a higher acid sensation even after roasting, which could be detected sensory in the coffee. Overall, the quality of the coffee could be increased by an average of 2 points on the rating scale of the Specialty Coffee Association through the Reposo process described above.

What has the Innocheque achieved and what further developments can be attributed to it?

The experiments carried out within the framework of the Innocheque are a valuable basis for establishing the cooperation between the two teams at the ZHAW, the Food Biotechnology Research Group and the Coffee Excellence Center together with Kaffeemacher GmbH and their possibilities for developing new products.

Development of a portable analysis kit for proof of origin cultures in cheese.

With a grant of CHF 10 000 from the Research Call 2016, Agroscope and SwissDeCode were able to start an evaluation phase to test a portable analysis kit that would reduce the time required in the laboratory from 1-2 weeks to less than one hour by means of genetic testing. In April 2018, it was confirmed that the DNAFoil system is at least as sensitive as the conventional analysis method when it comes to detecting cultures of provenance in cheese. The prototype is on its way to market maturity.

Project for natural decaffeination of tea

From a research call to a research project on to industrialisation. Infré SA and ZHAW have found a long-term cooperation through Swiss Food Research.Together with Infré SA, ZHAW was able to develop a pilot plant for the decaffeination of tea without any solvents.

Projectdescription ZHAW (German)

Recultivation of hemp in Switzerland as a valuable foods source

AlpenPionier and the Institute for Food and Beverage Innovation of the ZHAW in Wädenswil, Germany, researched the question: "Development of an efficient but gentle separation process for the extraction of oil, proteins and other potentially high-quality components from industrial hemp". What motivated AlpenPionier to apply for a research call to Swiss Food Research? Read Carlo Weber's answers.

Interview with Carlo Weber, AlpenPionier

What motivated AlpenPionier to apply for a research call to Swiss Food Research?

At that time we were almost at the beginning of the AlpenPionier company. There was still no company that only had the fixed idea of growing hemp as a food in Switzerland and offering it in various forms as a food. Emanuel from the team had already grown hemp in two fields to produce about 2 tons of hemp nuts, but we used these to produce prototypes and test products such as oil and powder on the market.

In order to further advance the prototyping, we applied for the Research Call in order to be able to investigate much more and more specifically in cooperation with the ZHAW Wädenswil.

How did you find answers to your research questions?

We have formulated the following research question:

"Development of an efficient but gentle separation process to extract oil, proteins and other high potential components from industrial hemp."

The investigations were mainly concerned with the efficient separation of the constituents oil, dietary fibres and protein. The analyses were intended to show which technology is best suited to the process. In addition, figures for the costs and the investment volume of such a plant should come together. The investigations took place in cooperation with the Institute for Food and Beverage Innovation of the ZHAW in Wädenswil.

How did you profit from the Research Call and what further development can be attributed to it?

The Research Call has brought us enormous progress in the research question. On the one hand many questions could be answered, on the other hand it opened up further fields of investigation. In addition, the cooperation with Swiss Food Research has brought about a lively exchange among each other and with other producers and universities. The networking of Swiss Food Research is very extensive and direct with the key players in the industry and companies. This enables contacts to be made quickly with the right people. For a start-up company, support in development and valuable contacts are very, very important for advancing an idea. Swiss Food Research is a very valuable partner.


Information about AlpenPionier: www.alpenpionier.ch/