Transcript for Manufacturing the Future Conference 2015 - Interview with Tim Foster

Manufacturing the Future Conference 2015 – interview with Tim Foster

I’m Tim Foster, I am the Professor of Food Structure at the University of Nottingham and also the Centre Director for the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Food.

Food engineering is important to UK manufacturing because it’s the largest manufacturing industry that the UK has and food is something that we all eat and what we need to be doing is eating in a healthy way and creating foods of the future that have healthy structures will enable us to do that. 

Some of the challenges that we have got, are challenges that have been given to us by industry in pre-competitive statements that the UK industry, food industries, have come together on and agreed on.  What we are wanting to do and are doing is to meet those needs by creating new innovative solutions, through engineering, and that’s engineering of materials, products and processes and also doing it in a sustainable and resilient way to meet the needs, not only of now, but of the future generations.

One of the things that we have done is to try and unpick the manufacturing of the biscuit.  Most people enjoy eating biscuits, I’ve just had one in the coffee break, probably not that good for me if I eat too many.  So what we have said is, can we recreate the structure of a biscuit that people will still enjoy eating, but with healthier ingredients and if we can do that then what impact does that have on the manufacturing process and therefore re-engineering the biscuit manufacturing process is something that’s really exciting us.  We are doing that with biscuits, we are also starting to do it with bread and cakes and we will do it with other food products moving forward.

The Centre that we have was funded as part of the SIM call in 2012.  The direct money coming into the Centre from EPSRC is £4.3 million.  The universities, three universities that are involved Loughborough University, University of Birmingham and my university, the University of Nottingham, are giving an extra £1.1 million in terms of studentship money.  So we a have cohort of researchers of 20 PhDs and 10 post doc researchers.  They have their individual projects but those projects then get cascaded into delivering against the big grand challenges that industry has identified.