Premier Foods battles universities

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Related tags: Premier foods, Law, Research

Intellectual property (IP) wrangles with universities have impeded joint research projects for Premier Foods, according to Dr Simon Branch, Premier's head of innovation and improvement.

"There have been instances where we have been planning research and we agree the plan with a university, then come up against the IP issue,"​ said Branch. "Projects have been pulled because IP couldn't be agreed."

Academic institutions were unwilling to concede to Premier Foods having exclusivity on concepts jointly worked on, he said. In a commercial arena, this created an insurmountable obstacle. In most cases this had not led to scrapping projects, but it had led to shelving them, which was delaying progress, he added. "Our universities, quite rightly, are now very much more commercially aware and IP issues can be a barrier to starting or even undertaking the science."

This was not the only obstacle to innovation, said Branch. The bureaucracy needed to comply with increasingly complex regulations filtering down from Brussels, including the pursuit of Novel Food Regulation applications, was another problem. "The legal burden and the implementation takes an ever greater share of the technical function's time. That means that proportionally there's less time available to do innovation and the novel foods process is lengthy, uncertain and expensive."

Related topics: NPD

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