Workshops offer insight to inform 5-year science plan

26 January 2018
HVn plan workshop 4
Science leadership team members Meika Foster and Sally Poppitt lead the Metabolic Health planning workshop

High-Value Nutrition has completed a successful stakeholder planning project, with 114 participants offering their insight and perspective on the Challenge’s science direction for the next five years at a series of workshops held late last year.

Challenge Director Joanne Todd said, “We appreciated the time people gave us and the insights they shared. The Challenge thanks all those who participated in what proved to be a thought-provoking process.” High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge hosted the four workshops in Wellington and Auckland to inform the drafting of a science plan to guide research for the next five years of the Challenge mission, 2019-2024. Each workshop focussed on one of the health themes, Digestive Health, Infant Health, Immune Health and Metabolic Health. The three further themes, Consumer Insights, Science of Food and Vision Mātauranga were embedded into each workshop as cross-Challenge and enabling research themes. A key goal to ensure a good balance of participants from the research community and industry was achieved with between 20% and 50% of participants from the commercial sector.  As the Challenge research projects mature, good engagement with industry and research will support collaboration, co-investment and eventual commercialisation.

Summary of workshop feedback

*Comments filtered to only include those that suggest ways to enhance approach, outcomes, translation. These are comments from workshop participants that apply to the Challenge strategy and mission as a whole. During the workshops, Challenge scientists responded to specific questions on research design. 

 

Key questions Summary of feedback
Strengths

·         Best team approach uses nationwide science capability

·         Systems biology approach aims to integrate mechanism and outcomes

·         Health targets are topical

·         Ongoing info/feedback from Consumer Insights

·         Brand NZ Inc.

·         Consumers understand connection between diet and gut

·         Vision Matauranga focus

·         Involvement of Maori stakeholders

·         Stretchy science

Weaknesses

·         Need to demonstrate clear connection and engagement with industry partners in market spaces

·         New Zealand lacks competitive advantage in this space

·         Complex relationships in our food and health mechanisms could be hard to crack

Opportunities

·         Reverse genomics approach for other food types

·         Maori-led marketing ties into New Zealand Inc. story

·         Potential for multi-centre trials in New Zealand and China

·         People aware of need to ‘heal thyself’

·         Opportunities for indigenous ingredients

·         Advanced process technology

·         Personalised nutrition

·         Leverage cohort data across the priority research areas

·         Bring in other ethnicities (Māori India, Pacific,)

·         Develop solid IP ASAP

·         Traditional Chinese medicine angle/tie in

·         Large potential market

Risks

·         Trials underway in NZ environment/culture different to the end target market

·         Focus on China looks like “eggs in one basket”

·         Overly complex regulatory frameworks for health claims in China

·         Potential mis-match between food candidates and foods important to NZ exporter included in Challenge research

·         Failure to identify suitable biomarkers

·         Chinese consumers wary of new ingredients

How can HVN further enhance the research?

·         Clear strategy to develop validated tool box to test multiple product/feeds

·         Clinical trials/research in China

·         Results to inform predictive tool to shortcut product development

·         Mitigate commercial risk with research on market messaging

·         Research design aligns with business model

·         Hui with other NSCs on cooperative projects

·         Non-invasive testing/monitoring of metabolites

·         Collaboration with research teams in target markets

·         Development of indigenous agreements for a wider range of businesses

Shape of future contestable funding rounds

·         Industry engagement to supply a ‘real’ product for inclusion in clinical trial

·         Develop new markets: from whole food base with unique NZ ingredients

·         Microbiota mediated benefits in mood/anxiety/sleep and energy?

·         Better understanding of microbiome impact on health systems

·         Develop,  tools that can be used with consumers so they feel the benefit

·         Use contestable to broaden applicability, e.g. a different target