Food and health are highly complex societal issues and public engagement in research requires ever more focus. Over the past decade, most EU Member States have identified food and health as key priorities.
This is in response to increases in obesity and diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases amongst their populations. Attempts to increase public awareness of appropriate ways to eat more healthily, however, do not seem to have led to significant changes in patterns of food purchase and consumption. It has become obvious that the development of effective measures for improvement is a demanding task and requires further systematic research and innovative approaches, and INPROFOOD was developed to begin to address this.
INPROFOOD is a three-year project involving 17 partners across 13 EU countries to foster dialogue and mutual learning between industry, academia and civil society already in the earliest stages of the research processes directed towards developing innovative approaches (technical and social) for dealing with the food and health challenge. It was developed from the basis that social discourse among research institutions, industry and civil society is a basic pre-requisite for moving towards a more reliable and achievable vision.
Objectives promoting bottom-up development of concepts (processes and structure) of societal engagement in food and health research; investigating current processes and structures in the area of food and health in both private and public research sectors and the role ‘Public Engagement in Research’ takes in these sectors; developing stakeholder engagement programs both at national and European levels, stimulate the adoption of concrete initiatives of societal engagement in food and health research already in the course of the project by forming an action plan that draws insights from various workshops; improving the current methodology used in Science in Society (SiS) projects through evaluation of the methodology implemented during the planned project in relation to its objectives and expected impacts; keeping the target audience and wider audience informed regarding the advances of the project by continuously disseminating relevant information using various communication tools and channels; and additionally supporting and complementing existing FP7 programmes KBBE and HEALTH through establishing collaboration with approved projects and implementing joint activities.
The University of Surrey will be involved in mapping and analyzing current processes of research programming in the area of food and health, organizing participatory workshops to develop bottom-up engagement practices, and contributing to the development of an action plan for improved societal engagement in food and health research drawing on the insights emerging from these workshops.