FBNS + NCFIL: From Vision to Realization
February 12, 2020NC State’s Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences (FBNS) Department was involved with NCFIL since Day One—instrumental in its original vision, active in its thoughtful development and influential in its promising future.
NC’s Future in Food Manufacturing
Previous FBNS Department Head Dr. Chris Daubert helped launch the NC Food Processing and Manufacturing Initiative, funded by the NC General Assembly in 2014. The initiative teamed the Governor and a task force to assess how to increase North Carolina’s food and beverage manufacturing industry, with one of the resulting goals being the development of a food processing innovation center (FPIC).
Once the FPIC vision was finalized and the NC Research Campus (NCRC) location selected, next steps included Daubert and colleagues reviewing similar entities across the country, to learn from both their successes and mistakes. Plans then started to hire a director, build the facility and secure equipment. The Golden Leaf Foundation soon agreed to help fund the equipment.
Developing NCFIL with FBNS Resources
To start, FBNS Professor Dr. Mario Ferruzzi served as NCFIL’s Interim Director. Ferruzzi, a faculty member at the Plants for Human Health Institute, also located at NCRC, laid the groundwork for NCFIL by specing long lead time equipment and equipment suppliers. When now Executive Director Dr. Bill Aimutis was hired, he took over the show and procured the equipment.
FBNS assisted Aimutis with the purchase of several integral pieces of food processing equipment by connecting him with the following graduates:
- John Miles, President of MicroThermics, NC State alumnus
- Josip Simunovic, Chief Science Officer of SinnovaTek, NC State alumnus, research professor
- Pablo Coronel Rivadeneira, Director of Food Processing of CRB, NC State alumnus, adjunct professor
NCFIL purchased the MicroThermics MTI BioPharm HTST/UHT Thermal Processor and the SinnovaTek Nomatic Continuous Flow Microwave Processor. CRB is the design/build firm engaged for NCFIL.
FBNS + NCFIL: A Recipe for Future GrowthNow that NCFIL has launched, FBNS will continue supporting NCFIL’s growth through many connections.
Starting mid-February, Dr. Marvin Moncada, a plant food processing specialist, will join other existing FBNS faculty at NCRC. As an extension-focused faculty member, he will assist companies in converting their raw products to value-added final products and also conduct cutting-edge food processing research using NCFIL’s equipment. Two to three other FBNS faculty members, housed on NC State’s main campus, also plan to utilize the facility for research.
Currently, NC State’s Entrepreneur Initiative for Food (ei4f) works with entrepreneurs to advise them on how to process their product and bring it to market. However, doing that in a private kitchen can be problematic due to the need for large product volume and the associated high cost. Now, ei4f can advise these professionals to use NCFIL, a more affordable and supportive option.
Another example of FBNS offering NCFIL exposure is via the Center for Advanced Processing and Packaging Studies (CAPPS), a research center devoted to the food science and engineering discipline. CAPPS will soon meet at NCFIL, enabling attendees to tour the facility and consider how their companies can use it. Some of CAPPS’ larger companies include Pepsi®, The Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé, Unilever, NASA, Abbott Nutrition, Starbucks and Michael Foods.
The NCFIL Impact: The Promise of Processing
FBNS Department Head Dr. KP Sandeep sees NCFIL’s processing capabilities as one of its greatest assets: “NCFIL is a one-stop shop for various processing technologies which many diverse companies can access. It’s not only a great place for innovation for large companies, but also offers entrepreneurs and small companies an avenue to commercial success.”
Sandeep also recognizes the significance of NCFIL for North Carolina farmers. Currently, many farmers sell crops that are then processed across state lines. The intent with NCFIL is for farmers to be able to have their own raw crops processed into value-added products within the state, thus increasing profit margins.
FBNS + NCFIL: Grow + Flourish
FBNS has partnered with NCFIL from vision through development to realization. The partnership is bound to grow and flourish in new ways as NCFIL achieves its purpose in accelerating North Carolina’s food and beverage manufacturing industry.