Berlin has a great potential as a new food production region in Europe. There are already more than 50 food and nutrition research institutes in the Berlin and Brandenburg region. Hence, Berlin has the potential to become a new European powerhouse on food research. As for the production, Berlin has the potential to produce more and better food to meet the increasing world demand for food, provided it takes a holistic approach to the environmental and public health issues challenging the use of land and animals. To do so, a strong research environment is needed backed by qualified and highly educated workforce. However, the food science research in the Berlin region is spread across several universities, each covering only a part of the food production chain. However, future professionals in food science will be met by societal challenges that require a holistic approach to food science: While our food must continue to be nutritious and safe, it must increasingly be wholesome, sustainable, natural, and contribute to human and animal welfare.
To cover these increasing societal demands, research infrastructure and education are required to involve the foremost frontiers of science. Berlin region has both the land and climate potential to produce food for the increasingly hungry world, but has also the research capacity to train the best PhDs. Nevertheless, Berlin will need to compete with some of the best food research centers in Europe, and ultimately, in the world: Copenhagen, Wageningen, Bologna, and so on.
The FoodBerlin PhD program is part of an initiative by the three main universities in Berlin (FUB, HUB and TUB) to attract funding to boost research in food production chains. Berlin region has a great potential to develop into a European powerhouse in food production and food research. However, to do so, it needs to consolidate through a university alliance to become a competitive player. By joining the complementary expertize of FUB, HUB and TUB will enable us to launch cross-disciplinary and cutting-edge research to cover the entire food production chain, attract national and European funding, and hire top PhD candidates to this growing and politically prioritized research area.
As the first step, FoodBerlin will create a PhD program in food science. The solution will take advantage of giving access to food-related graduate courses across the universities, joint courses, and cross-disciplinary projects. In the next step, core international universities will be engaged to strengthen the international profile of FoodBerlin. In the final step, stakeholders from the industry, regulatory, and high-tech sectors will be involved to boost the innovation and societal aspects of the initiative.
One of the first outcomes of the collaboration will be joint grant applications to attract funding for research. Another outcome would be increasing share of international students in food science. Offering new joint courses covering cross-disciplinary subjects would be a potential output.