‘Innovation principle’ is key for food sector

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Applying the innovation principle could make a key contribution to the UK food sector
Applying the innovation principle could make a key contribution to the UK food sector

Related tags: Innovation, Europe, European union

The UK food industry has been urged to get behind a set of standards that will allow businesses to innovate more freely.

The ‘innovation principle’ was gaining momentum throughout Europe, and further backing from food manufacturers and trade groups would help it gain approval from the EU, Paul Leonard, head of innovation and technology policy – EU government relations at BASF Group, has claimed.

First devised in 2013 by think tank the European Risk Forum, the innovation principle was designed to serve as a reminder to all policy makers that their policy or regulatory decisions should always consider the impact on a company’s ability to innovate, in order to stimulate jobs and growth.

“What we are doing in Brussels at a European level but it can be applied to anywhere in the world is addressing the issue around an increase in legislation that has become increasingly risk-averse,”​ said Leonard.

‘Impact on innovation’

“In the same way that we stop and ask what impact legislation is going to have on health, or on the environment, we need to say, what impact will it have on innovation?”

The UK’s decision to leave the EU would not have any effect on the principle, Leonard suggested, because “if you want to trade with the EU, you have to comply with EU standards”.

According to Leonard, all major technological innovation carries some degree of risk associated with it. “The trouble is that if you try and solve that problem by avoiding risk altogether, it becomes very difficult for technological innovation to take place,”​ he said.

‘Major green biotech companies’

“The most classic example is green biotechnology, which was invented here in Europe. Thanks to legislation, the major green biotech companies, including BASF, have relocated to other parts of the world.

“Europe is very good at science. But we are not good at bringing new science to market in the form of innovation we lag behind North America and Asia in terms of our ability to bring discoveries to market.”

Leonard remained optimistic that the EU would adopt the innovation principle.

Meanwhile, food and drink innovation was the focus of the Food Manufacture Group’s one day conference – New Frontiers in Food and Drink – staged in London on Thursday March 17. Don’t miss our video interview​ with conference chair Steve Osborn of the Aurora Ceres Parntership.

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