The Scottish Funding Council – which pumps taxpayers’ cash into Scotland’s 24 universities and research institutes – is stumping up £2.64m over the next five years, with the remaining funding coming from the universities themselves and from industry bodies, such as Scotland Food & Drink.
Interface, the public body that already brings companies and universities together to work on projects across different economic sectors, is coordinating the new scheme.
Helen Pratt, national co-ordinator for Interface Food & Drink, said: “A lot of companies are already working with food scientists to develop their next products.
“What we want to do is go a stage further and help companies improve their techniques and processes or solve problems like how to manage their food waste.”
Pratt said the project would not just involve food scientists but could also draw on the skills of physicists and staff from other disciplines.
Aberdeen University, Abertay in Dundee and Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt are leading the scheme. They hope to replicate the success of Edinburgh-based firm UWI, which worked with Heriot-Watt to develop a food label that indicates when products have passed their use-by date.
UWI inventor Pete Higgins said: “I have no doubt the product would not be at its current stage without support from the team at Heriot-Watt. Working with academia has been a vital stage in bringing the product to market.”