20 Kellogg researchers will focus on innovation of food concepts and products, primarily within the snack sector, alongside experts at the Leuven University as part of the Leuven Bio-Incubator within which several other life sciences companies have set up operations.
“Kellogg is looking to Europe to grow,” explained Michael De Blauwe, executive director of the Leuven Bio-Incubator. “But Europe has much stronger regulations in terms of food ingredients in comparison to America.”
De Blauwe explained that Kellogg hopes this facility will serve as a kind of acclimatisation centre whereby the necessary changes to products and lines can be made in order to appeal to European consumers and adhere to EU regulations.
Kellogg product development scientist Stefann Matthijs said that whilst Kellogg is already working within the EU with factories for brands like Pringles, this, “new R&D side will make sure we have a bigger role than we currently have”.
Just 25 kilometres east of Brussels and close to an international airport, Matthijs described Leuven as “the centre of Europe”.
Kris Peeters, Minister-President of the Government of Flanders, was also hopeful about the role of investment in R&D and the presence of knowledge-intensive companies such as Kellogg in the area.
“Flanders ranks among the top five knowledge-intensive regions in Europe. By deploying our Flanders in Action project, the Government of Flanders aims to progress Flanders further towards a competitive and multi-faceted knowledge economy," he explained.
At the official opening, Margaret Bath, senior vice president of research, quality and technology at Kellogg, said this new partnership with KU Leuven is a "great example of industry-university cooperation and will help to drive the future of food innovation".
"Our presence here in Leuven will provide Kellogg with access to incredible talent, strong infrastructure and the right environment to nurture creative thinking and problem solving," Bath added.
Michael De Blauwe said that in industry most of the more obvious, simple problems have been solved, but many complex problems like health implications still remain. “Like many companies, Kellogg wanted to sit close to the university to be exposed to the activities there, to get the best and most researchers to offer solutions to complex solutions.”
De Blauwe explained that Kellogg takes its responsibility to consumer health, referencing issues such as diabetes, seriously. Whilst Matthijs commented that “nutritional values are very important to us”.