How NextGenProteins considers the needs of society in Research and Innovation

NextGenProteins aims to optimise and validate, in an industrially relevant environment, the production of proteins from microalgae, single cells and insects and demonstrate their suitability as alternative sustainable sources in food and feed value chains.

In order to better align both the processes and the products with the values, needs and expectations of society, NextGenProteins works during the whole research and innovation process following the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) principles i.e. anticipate, reflect, engage and response with stakeholders and ensure that the research is beneficial for the society. Responsible research considers Ethics, Science Education, Gender Equality, Open Access, Governance and Public Engagement (RRI keys) in doing research- for the society.

During the 3rd annual meeting in Italy early October 2022, all NextGenProteins project partners discussed the challenge to adapt and modify the research structure and content of tasks in an EU funded project in order to reflect the outcome of stakeholder interaction and expression of changing societal needs.

A big question is sustainability, and namely what is sustainability in next generation proteins. NextGenProteins aims to define sustainability before talking about it and then prove the sustainability to be able to increase awareness and to be able to communicate with the stakeholders.

Another big question is value – what is the value of new proteins for the society, and for the individual consumers. NextGenProteins is focussing on “what’s in it for the customer”. The value of the product can be counted in if the product is societally desirable. However, for instance with insects in food, barriers to get people try the products exist. Therefore, NextGenProteins aims to understand the barriers in order to consider and overcome them. Co-creation is the key in here to get opinions earlier on and create concepts to work on.

To increase awareness on the impact of the products, the NextgenProteins dissemination aims to be transparent and understandable. In increasing the awareness NextGenProteins also considers negative societal impacts. Who might be affected unfavourably? Are there negative influences on people and society? In this question the inclusive research approach with right and relevant stakeholders is important.

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