iFOODnet is a multi-disciplinary and inter-sectorial Norway-Japan Training and Research Network.

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01. Feb 2021


31. Jan 2024

Funded by

The Research Council of Norway


Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU); Tokyo University of Marine Science (TUMSAT); Tokyo University of Agriculture (TokyoNODAI)

iFOODnet Training school

Norwegian and Japanese students creating new food concepts together during 1-week international Training School 2021

Updated January 2022

Securing future food supply within the planet’s boundaries is a global challenge engaging students and researchers cross-borders. This societal challenge was chosen as an overall theme when NTNU arranged a 1-week Training School in 8-12 November 2021. The Training School was part of the iFOODnet project coordinated by Nofima and founded by the Ministry of Education and Research through Norwegian Research Council and Diku. 

The aim of the Training School was to increase awareness of the societal food challenges and to equip the students with an innovation toolbox, international network and cross-cultural and disciplinary skills in teamwork whilst designing future food concepts.   

“What will be the future protein sources?” and “How to reduce food loss and waste?” were the two topics the students worked in groups to develop food concepts on. The week comprised lectures in innovation, design thinking methodology, multidisciplinary project work, food trends and pitching of ideas as well as daily group work. On the last day, each group presented their food concepts. 

41 students joined the event from 2 universities in Japan (Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology; Tokyo University of Agriculture) and 2 (NTNU; University of Stavanger) in Norway representing 20 different study programs at Bachelor, Master or PhD levels. Twenty-two Japanese students and 16 Norwegians joined the daily program from 8-12 PM Norwegian time and 16-20 PM Japanese time. The program had a strong focus on collaborative group work: the students were divided into groups of 4 to 6, each group consisting of students from Japan and Norway and from the different universities. In the beginning of the teamwork, the Japanese students were more reticent in the discussions, but that improved during the week and the teams became an arena for creativity and knowledge sharing among students with different cultures and backgrounds.  The students reported high learning outcome and increased international network through the Training School.

Food concepts

  • Wastecraft – there is no waste only resources
  • Single cell protein
  • Insects as ingredient – protein hopper
  • Proteins for elderly
  • The green house
  • Spirulina as a protein source for elderly
  • Alternative protein sources for emergency products
  • Modified atmosphere cabinet

…. Since our group had the theme of developing yogurt for the elderly in Japan, we went on a fieldwork to show Japanese supermarkets [to the Norwegian students]. Norwegian students were very interested in getting to know the Japanese modern food culture, and I was impressed with their curiosity….. I realised that even we Japanese have different ways of thinking about the society and living styles.  – a MSc student at TUMSAT, Japan. 

The Training School was organised and led by Professor Turid Rustad, researcher and vice dean for innovation Catherine Taylor and assoc. professor Eva Falch at NTNU. The organizers were impressed about the student teamwork and the food concepts developed by the students. This was above all expectation and the teaching model developed here will be used in future training in international teamwork. Such collaboration will help our global food systems to drive in the right direction towards sustainability.   

The 2nd iFOODnet Training School in Tokyo, Japan

Updated November 2022

The students who participated in the Training School. Photo: Izumi Sone

iFOODnet’s goal is to build multidisciplinary and inter-sectorial training and research network for collaboration between Norway and Japan. The 2nd iFOODnet Training School 2022 was organised by Professor Shingo Matsukawa at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (TUMSAT, Japan) and gave opportunities for Japanese and Norwegian students to learn more about food research and innovation and interact and work with each other. 

The event was held on TUMSAT campus in Tokyo from October 3 to October 7, 2022. The program was designed to incorporate virtual and live presentations from speakers. Furthermore, the program incorporated activities, such as presentations, demonstrations, group works, and tour to the university research ship, market, and museum, to have a meaningful understanding about food availability, utilization, stability, and accessibility.

Student presentation about the use of fish skin as a new source of gelatin.                Photo: Randi Sund

Four Japanese and Norwegian universities and one research institute were represented at the Training School: TUMSAT, Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI, Japan), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU, Norway), University of Stavanger (UiS, Norway) and Nofima (Norway). Twenty-seven students from bachelor, MS, and PhD levels participated in the event: 17 from TUMSAT, 7 from NTNU, 1 from Tokyo NODAI, and 2 from UiS.

The training school served as an avenue for student participants to examine issues about global food security and sustainability and advocate ways to solve these issues by making a business plan. The participants were divided into 5 groups and presented their respective business plans at the end of the week:

Business plans

  • Wireless freezer for fish transport in developing countries
  • Bringing edible food back to the market
  • Jellyfish as new food source
  • The use of fish skin as new source of gelatin
  • Recycling edible oil for biodiesel

After the Training School students were asked to give feedback on how they experienced working in groups with fellow students from different science and international background and what they found most interesting and most challenging. The main challenge seemed to be communication, as the student’s knowledge of English varied within the group. However, despite this, the feedback was very positive with the students feeling that they were able to gain insight into new fields of science and another culture. Some quotes from the students are included below.

How was your experience to work in groups with fellow students from different science and international background?

“Working with fellow students from different science and international background was both fun and enlightening. I learned a lot of new things from the knowledge and expertise shared by my fellow students.”

“I was excited about working with different students, cultures, and science, which enabled me to increase my knowledge and experience.”

What did you find most interesting during the Training School? 

“Being introduced to a whole different culture, both at the university but also in Japan itself. It was interesting to see how the structure and lectures were at TUMSAT.”

“The group work. We decided to make our product in the lab. The process was simple, but designing the recipe, working in the lab and making a product was a valuable experience.”

Staff from Nofima and NTNU also travelled to Tokyo to teach at the Training School, meet with TUMSAT employees and students, and to participate in a project meeting. The staff joining from NTNU were Associate Professor and work-package leader of iFOODnet WP2 Eva Falch, Vice Dean for Innovation and Researcher at the NV faculty Catherine Taylor Nordgård, Researcher Kurt Ingar Draget, and Julia Zazhigina from the Office of International Relations. The staff joining from Nofima were Research Director in the Department of Processing Technology Morten Sivertsvik, project manager of iFOODnet Izumi Sone, and PhD-student Randi Sund.

Lunch at TUMSAT. Photo: Izumi Sone.

Morten Sivertsvik and Professor Jørgen Lerfall from NTNU held a hybrid lecture where Morten Sivertsvik was presenting live at TUMSAT and Jørgen Lerfall’s part was pre-recorded. Eva Falch and Professor Turid Rustad from NTNU also held a hybrid lecture with Eva Falch present at TUMSAT and Turid Rustad joining online via Teams. Additionally, both Catherine Taylor and Kurt Ingar Draget were present at TUMSAT and held a lecture together. 

Morten Sivertsvik, Izumi Sone, and Randi Sund met with professors from the laboratories of Food Thermal Processing and Food Microbiology within the Department of Food Science and Technology. In these meetings Nofima and their work was presented, and the professors from TUMSAT presented their laboratory and work. Based on these presentations, potential research collaborations were discussed. The meetings were interesting and have opened for continued contact and hopefully future collaborations.  

Julia Zazhigina, Eva Falch, and Catherine Taylor Nordgård, met with the Office of International Relations at TUMSAT to discuss how to increase student mobility from Japan to Norway. Julia Zazhigina explained the whole process of applying for an exchange to Norway, including requirements regarding English proficiency, how to find accommodation, financial guarantees required by The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration for visa application and study permit, and the possibility of joining a summer course in Norwegian. Cultural differences and differences in teaching methods between the two countries, as well as financial arrangements for exchange students between Japan and Norway, were also discussed. Additionally, Dr. Catherine Taylor Nordgård shared her experience of welcoming two Japanese master’s students through the iFOODnet program for a research stay in the spring of 2022. Both the staff from NTNU and TUMSAT found this very useful and informative, and hopefully it will help facilitate future exchange of students between the two universities. Julia Zazhigina also held a presentation about NTNU for a group of students from TUMSAT who were interested in an exchange stay in Norway. The students were very interested and asked a lot of questions.

Visit to the Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo. From left to right: Otto Malmgren, Shingo Matsukawa, Morten Sivertsvik, Julia Zazhigina, Eva Falch, Izumi Sone, Marianne Støren Berg. Photo: Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo

Julia Zazhigina and Eva Falch from NTNU, Morten Sivertsvik and Izumi Sone from Nofima, and Shingo Matsukawa from TUMSAT visited the Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo. Here they were met by Otto Malmgren and Marianne Støren Berg who are working with technology, research, and higher education at the embassy. The iFOODnet project was presented and possibilities for further collaboration within research, education, and industry, and financial arrangements for such collaborations were discussed. There was also a discussion on how to facilitate exchange from Japan to Norway and how to make NTNU a more popular exchange destination for Japanese students. The Norwegian Embassy posted about this on their LinkedIn page, the post can be seen here.

In addition to this, both students and staff were able to get to know fellow students and colleagues over dinners and sightseeing during the afternoons. Tokyo was thoroughly explored by the Norwegian visitors and new and exciting food was tasted. Overall, a great experience with opportunities to make new connections, expand our knowledge within the field of food science, and learn about Japanese culture and food traditions.

The 3rd iFOODnet Training School in Stavanger, Norway

Updated November 2023

The 3rd iFOODnet Training School was held at NOFIMA (Havets Hus), in Stavanger, Norway on September 18th – 22nd 2023, under the theme of “Norway-Japan Partnership for Co-creating Sustainable Food Systems”.  

25 international students participated from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (TUMSAT, Japan), Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI, Japan), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU, Norway), University of Stavanger (UiS, Norway) and Nofima (Norway).  

The program included cross-cutting lectures and workshops within sustainability, innovation, and education, including: 

  • Sustainable aquaculture and fisheries  
  • Future food processing technologies 
  • Circular bioeconomy 
  • Innovation and knowledge transfer  
  • Role of AI in education and businesses 
  • Academic writing 
  • Presentation skills 
  • Popular science communication 

The students were divided into groups and given an assignment to create a multimedia report on what they experienced and learned during the Training School.  

Student mobility

Interview with two MSc students from Japan 2022

Updated May 2022

Finally, two MSc students from Japan arrived in Norway for their 3-month research stay at NTNU. In this interview, we present Hazuki Takagi and Yumika Hayano. Their stay will be connected to [CIP#3] Biomaterials and Smart Packaging, under partner supervision of Prof. Shingo Matsukawa (TUMSAT), Dr. Catherine Taylor Nordgård and Dr. Kurt Inger Draget (NTNU). 

Hazuku Takagi

Picture of Yumika and Hazuku at Agdenes together with a daughter of their supervisor Dr. Catherine Taylor Nordgård, NTNU. Photo: Arne Nordgård. 

Please, tell us about you and your background. 

My name is Hazuku Takagi and I’m a Master student (22 years old) in TUMSAT. I’m from Kanagawa prefecture and my town has a beautiful sea. And my hobby is sailing. I belonged to a sailing club team for four years and I love it. So, I love sea. And I love the town, Trondheim because it has a beautiful sea also. And I’m very into J-pop musicians. I hope to make friend who has same hobby. 

Which institution (research group) and topics are you going to work in?

I study about gelatin (fish and mammal) for a year and I’m going to continue this study at NTNU in Norway. Fish gelatin is not used in general yet due to it has a very low melting point compered to mammalian gelatin. And many researchers are trying to use it as a substitute for bovine gelatin. But there is no solution about it yet. Our research’s aim is not making substitute for bovine gelatin. However, I think mixture of mammal and fish gelatin has interesting property. 

Photo: Hazuku Takagi

Why did you want to take part in iFOODnet student mobility? 

I first learned of this project just over a year ago. Prof. Mastukawa ask me to join this project. Then I was really excited about this. I thought that staying abroad for a long period of time was something I could only do while I was a university student. And, I thought it was a rare opportunity to experience another laboratory. It worth to do for me even though this staying abroad has difficult way due to this pandemic. I am hoping to talk with many professional people. In this university, there are many researchers with a lot of professional knowledge. And, I am hoping to make some new friends at NTNU.

What impressions do you have so far? 

I have been here for two weeks already. This has really crisp and clean air. And everything is new. I think this town is good for starting something new. Because everyone here is very kindly. All cars stop when I walk crossing. Strangers help me when I am confusing how can I use laundry. One talk to me ” Snowing is not special thing here!” when I am surprised the snow in April. But my study is started just now. I think everything is start from now. I’ll do my best both of study and life here. 

Yumika Hayano

Please, tell us about you and your background. 

Photo: Yumika Hayano

I am Yumika Hayano, 22 years old and currently taking a master’s degree at TUMSAT. The subject of my master thesis is “Gel formation mechanism of the mixture of mammalian gelatin and cold-water-fish gelatin”My hobby includes eating (especially sweets) and cooking and reading manga. 

Why did you want to take part in iFOODnet student mobility? 

One is to enrich my study in master course regarding fish gelatin. Fortunately, there are a lot of specialists of fish gelatin in NTNU, which is the university I go to through iFoodnet project. So, I thought it is a good chance for me to study a lot. The other is to improve my thinking ability and communication skill. When I joined the training school that was held by iFoodnet in last autumn, I was impressed by the high discussion skill of Norwegian students. This experience made me would like to try to gain experience at a higher level.

What are your expectations of living in Norway?  

One is to get a lot of knowledge about fish gelatin itself and the effective way of experiments. The other is to enjoy the life in Norway and understand the different culture from Japan.

What impressions do you have so far? 

Everyone who joins this project treats me kindly, so I really appreciate their help. Through this project, I’m happy to enrich my study in master course because there are a lot of specialists of fish gelatin and machines that I have never used before in NTNU. I try the experiments that I would not conduct if I just stay at my laboratory in Japan. In addition, it gave me a good chance to understand the different culture from Japan. Actually, I don’t have so much experience in foreign countries, so I’m glad to get such a good chance. Currently, I feel that I would not like to go back to Japan because Norway is the best place for me to live in.

Welcome home! –  Student interview upon completion 2022

Updated August 2022

The two MSc students from TUMSAT completed their 3-month research stay at NTNU and came safely home. In this interview, we asked them to share their experiences. 

Hazuku Takagi

What was it like for you to live and work in Norway for three months? 

Norway is really great place. The air is clear and crisp. I love such a great nature. I did hike some weekend. And people there are very friendly. So, I had spent life there very much. 

What did you learn most through your stay? 

It is how can I discuss in English. I discussed many times there. First time, it is difficult for me to discuss in English but for their kindly support, using figure and table and teach again and again, I could discuss in English and lean how can I discuss in English.

Would you recommend iFOODnet mobility to other students, and why?

Yes, I think if you are interested in studying abroad, it is good chance for it. We could take a keeping support during stay. And I think Norway is the best place to study trip because of kindly country. 

Yumika Hayano

What was it like for you to live and work in Norway for three months? 

It was a great experience for me not only for study but also for understanding of other cultures. I did enough experiments for my study and had a lot of chances to communicate with Norwegian. Norwegian culture and vies were very different from Japanese, so it was very interesting for me. I think that I would not know Norwegian cultures and values if I did not go to Norway, so I feel very happy to have had such a great chance and work in Norway!

What did you learn most through your stay? 

At first, I thought that it would not be so difficult to communicate with Norwegian because I spoke English every day in my lab in Japan, but it was difficult for me to get used to the accent, intonation and phrases of Norwegian English. However, fortunately, I had a lot of chance to talk with Norwegian colleagues, for example, my supervisors and flat mates. So, it did not take a long time to get used to Norwegian English (around 1 month and a half).

Would you recommend iFOODnet mobility to other students, and why?

I would like to recommend that students who are interested in study abroad would join the iFOODnet program. We can get enough financial support and a lot of information about housing in Norway. So, there were few things that we need to be worry about. Also, the life in Norway is great. Norwegian are very kind and friendly, so we have a lot of chance to communicate with them; not only daily conversation but also discussion about research topic. Furthermore, we do not have to wonder what to do when we have troubles because Norwegian always readily give us advice. I think that it is better for students who are interested in study abroad or international cultures to join this program because it takes too long time to go to Norway in private time, especially after getting job.

Interview with MSc student from Tokyo University of Agriculture 2022

Updated November 2022

Fumika working together with Ayda in the lab. Photo: Leena Prabhu/Nofima

Another MSc student arrived in Norway for research stay at Nofima, Stavanger. In this interview, we present Fumika Tomono who will be working under partner supervision of Prof Sagane Yoshimasa (Tokyo University of Agriculture, TokyoNODAI) and Dr Estefaníe Noriega Fernández (Nofima/EFSA), for research collaboration within [CIP#2] Innovative Food Processing and Functionality, on innovative extraction of microalgae. 

Next Spring 2023 there will be another MSc student Ayda Omar Mohamed from University of Stavanger travelling from Nofima to Tokyo NODAI, Japan. Her MSc thesis is closely related to Fumika’s and they will be working in collaboration at both places. 

Please, tell us about you and your background.

My name is Fumika Tomono. I am 23 years old and a first-year master’s student at Tokyo University of Agriculture. I am studying microalgae proteins. I am from Hyogo Prefecture. Osaka and Kyoto are close by, so I have no trouble finding places to play. I enjoy playing games, buying clothes, and taking trips.

Which institution (research group) and topics are you going to work in?

Photo: Fumika Tomono

When I was an undergraduate student, I studied botulinum neurotoxin at the Tokyo University of Agriculture’s Laboratory of Bioresource Science, and now I am studying microalgae proteins. With the growing interest in food problems and plant-based proteins, we focused on microalgae as one of the new protein sources other than meat. However, breaking up cell walls is a challenge, so my research focuses on how to solve this problem.

Why did you want to take part in iFOODnet student mobility? 

Originally, I wanted to live and study in a country other than Japan. After I earned my bachelor’s degree, I didn’t want to graduate without studying abroad, and then my lab instructor invited me to participate in iFOODnet’s student mobility program. I told him that I was very interested in participating because I was planning to go abroad myself if I did not have this opportunity.

Photo: Fumika Tomono

What are your expectations of living in Norway?  

To experience different cultures firsthand. Both in terms of research and living. I had only been abroad on trips, so I have only tasted superficial things such as the beauty of the landscape. I believe that living and researching there will be a great experience in my life.

What impressions do you have so far? 

When I am in Japan, I can only speak mostly with Japanese people, so it is refreshing to see a mix of people from different ethnic backgrounds. It is also interesting to see the differences in small things such as shopping at the supermarket. I sometimes feel confused, but everyone is very kind to me. Besides, as you would expect from a Scandinavian country, the houses are pretty

Welcome home, Fumika (Tokyo NODAI)  – Student interview upon completion 2022 

Updated February 2023

MSc student from Tokyo NODAI Fumika Tomono arrived home upon her completion of 2-month research stay at Nofima (October to December 2022).

She and MSc student Ayda Omar Mohamed from University of Stavanger worked side by side during the period on complementary topics under partner supervision of Prof Sagane Yoshimasa (Tokyo University of Agriculture, TokyoNODAI) and Dr Estefaníe Noriega Fernández (Nofima/EFSA) and have become very good colleagues and friends.

Ayda is now conducting her research stay at Tokyo NODAI until the end of March 2023, further extending their collaboration. Below Fumika shares her experiences of working and living in Norway.  

What was it like for you to live and work in Norway?  

I found it different in many ways. Norway has wonderful nature, and perhaps because of this, many people like to hike. I also thought the nature of the people and the way they work is different. Everyone is very kind, and many people value their time.  

Hike to Preikestolen (Photo: Fumika Tomono)

What did you learn most through your stay?  

A boat tour to a fish farm during Innovation trip (Photo: Fumika Tomono) 

The most important thing I learned in Norway is communication. Of course, I was conducting experiments with microalgae, so of course I learned how to conduct specific experiments, but communication was always necessary to learn that. For me, communicating in English was unfamiliar and scary, but as I asked questions and learned from everyone kindly, I became less and less afraid of communicating. It gave me confidence that I could interact even if my English was not perfect. 

Would you recommend iFOODnet mobility to other students, and why? 

I would naturally recommend joining iFoodNET. The only way to realize the good and bad points that you couldn’t notice if you just stayed in Japan, and the good and bad points that are unique to Norway, is to dive into that environment. I am sure you will discover something new in the country with a different language, working style, and culture. I would like you to attend meetings in English, shop at local supermarkets, and see for yourself the local plants. The experience will surely be an asset. 

Her stay was also shared at Tokyo NODAI’s Instagram account.   

Interview with Ayda O. Mohamed, MSc student from University of Stavanger 2023 

Updated February 2023

Another MSc student arrived in Japan for research stay at Tokyo NODAI. Ayda will continue her MSc work at Tokyo University of Agriculture, TokyoNODAI (Abashiri, Japan) under under partner supervision of Prof Sagane Yoshimasa and Dr Estefaníe Noriega Fernández (Nofima/EFSA).

She will be working on innovative extraction of microalgae, within [CIP#2] Innovative Food Processing and Functionality. Working with her is our previous iFOODnet student, Fumika Tomono, who stayed at Nofima last year working on the complementary topic for her thesis.  

Please, tell us about you and your background (subject of master thesis, where from, age, hobby etc)  

On a road trip with my colleague Fumika Tomono at Tokyo NODAI. Photo: Fumika Tomono 

My name is Ayda and I’m a 23 years old student from Norway. I’m a second-year master student at the university of Stavanger and doing my master thesis with Nofima in Stavanger. I have done a bachelor program in biochemistry and continued in the program in my master with specializing in molecular biology. My master thesis is about “Unlocking the potential of future proteins: Innovative strategies for enhanced extraction and functionality of microalgae proteins”. I spend most of my time studying and working, but I also enjoy exercising, photography and videography, going on trips and I lately started trying painting. Learning languages is fascinating, so maybe I will get the chance to learn some Japanese while I’m here.  

Which institution (research group) and topics are you going to work in? 

I have a background with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, where I completed my thesis with Nofima and studied the protein and polysaccharide interactions towards food applications. My master research is about microalgae, specifically Chlorella. Where the challenge is to find the optimum way of breaking the cell walls and experiment with different cell disruption methods. My first semester I worked in Nofima Stavanger and my second semester I will continue my work in Tokyo university of Agriculture.  

The City of Abashiri. Photo: Ayda O. Mohamed

Why did you want to take part in iFOODnet student mobility?  

I enjoyed working with Nofima in my bachelor studies, so when I had to apply for my master thesis, the iFOODnet project seemed very interesting. I always wanted to study abroad and try a different student environment in my filed. As a last year master student, it was the perfect chance for me to have this opportunity. Also, the iFOODnet training school in Tokyo made me more open towards trying living in Japan and work together with Japanese students and to obtain more experience both in my studies and in a different culture.   

What are your expectations of living in Japan? 

I will be living in the city of Abashiri, north Japan, which I heard will be very cold and a lot of snow. In Stavanger it does not snow much so that will be interesting to live in a snowy and cold city for three months. I will be learning and working in the laboratory here, so I will get a lot of knowledge through laboratory experiments and working with fellow students. Also, experiencing and enjoying the Japanese life and culture. 

Me and Fumika visiting the drift ice museum. Photo/Ayda O. Mohamed

What impressions do you have so far?  

It is a lot of snow here but good weather, almost sunny every day. My fellow student Fumika and the supervisor are kindly helping me with everything. It is very interesting to experience the life in a small city, there are language barriers but its part of the experience. I got introduced to many students and teachers at the university and everyone are kind and helpful. It is my first time living abroad and travelling alone, so far so good. I’m enjoying visiting famous places, trying new food and mostly excited for having the chance to experience the culture here.  

Welcome home, Ayda (University of Stavanger/Nofima) – Interview upon completion 2023

Updated March 2023

MSc student Ayda Omar Mohamed arrived home upon her completion of 2-month research stay at Tokyo NODAI (January to March 2023). She and Fumika Tomono from Tokyo NODAI who had her research stay at Nofima last year worked side by side during the period on complementary topics under partner supervision of Prof Sagane Yoshimasa (Tokyo University of Agriculture, TokyoNODAI) and Dr Estefaníe Noriega Fernández (Nofima/EFSA).  

Below Ayda shares her experiences of working and living in the Northern part of Japan, Abashiri. 

Picture of a welcome party organized by the students in the university.
Image: A welcome party organized by the students in the university. (Photo: Ayda Omar Mohamed) 

What was it like for you to live and work in Japan?  

My experience living and working in Japan was a good one for me. I stayed in Abashiri for my research period, it is a small city which was far from Tokyo. I got to meet a lot of local people, from the convince store, neighbors, cafes and from the university and everyone was very kind and friendly and easy going. Working and collaborating in the laboratory together with Fumika and our supervisor was pleasant experience, as they provided valuable assistance during the experiments. Also, I received a warm welcome from the other students in the lab, who were very friendly towards me and helpful. 

What did you learn most through your stay?  

During my time abroad, I discovered that it is possible to connect with other students despite the language barriers. Collaborating on experiments and engaging in activities provided opportunities to develop the communication. I also gained experience working in different laboratories and collaborating with student from different backgrounds than mine. Furthermore, my time abroad taught me how to be self-reliant in a foreign country. 

Drift ice boat tour in Abashiri. (Photo: Ayda Omar Mohamed) 

Would you recommend iFOODnet mobility to other students, and why? 

Initially, I was hesitant about the idea of participating in a study abroad program and traveling to a foreign country so far. However, I am now grateful that I took the opportunity, as it proved to be a valuable and enriching experience. As a result, I would highly recommend that other students consider studying abroad for a brief period if they are interested in exploring a new country and culture. Throughout the program, we received excellent support and guidance from our supervisors, who provided everything we needed. Additionally, studying abroad provided a unique opportunity to connect with other students who share similar interests and academic backgrounds while experiencing a new country. 

Interview with MSc students from NTNU 2023

Updated March 2023

Two new MSc students arrived in Japan for a research stay at TUMSAT. In this interview, we present Kristian Sylliåsen and Kristoffer Gustad Landsem who will be working under partner supervision of Prof Shingo Matsukawa (TUMSAT) and Dr Catherine Taylor Nordgård (NTNU) and Dr Kurt Ingar Draget (NTNU) for research collaboration within [CIP#3] Biomaterials and Smart Packaging, on complex gelatin matrices and their functional properties. Their research stay is the continuation on research collaboration between NTNU and TUMSAT, following the research stay of MSc students Hazuki Takagi and Yumika Hayano from TUMSAT in 2022.  

Kristian Sylliåsen  

Please, tell us about you and your background (subject of master thesis, where from, age, hobby etc)  

My name is Kristian and I am a fifth year MSc biotechnology student at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. I am working with gelled emulsion systems, and I study the physical properties of emulsions stabilized by mammalian gelatin, cold-water fish gelatin and various mixtures of the two.  

I am 23 years old and – as most Norwegians – I have a love for hiking in nature, preferably bringing a fishing pole with me. I am also very fond of cooking and playing the guitar.  

Picture showing the viw of the Sensō-Ji temple and its five-story pagoda in Asakusa, Tokyo.
View of the Sensō-Ji temple and its five-story pagoda in Asakusa, Tokyo. Photo: Kristian Sylliåsen. 

Which institution (research group) and topics are you going to work in? 

I will be staying at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology for five weeks, working in Professor Shingo Matsukawa’s research group at the Department of Food Science and Technology. I will continue my work from where I left off in Norway, and hopefully get to investigate the surface-active properties of the gelatins. I am excited to learn new techniques and experience a new laboratory environment.  

Why did you want to take part in iFOODnet student mobility?  

The opportunity to take part in the student mobility program was part of the reason I chose my specific master’s project. I think it is a great way to get to experience the country of Japan, their culture and to meet people with different backgrounds.  

Picture of cherry trees in bloom.
Beautiful cherry trees in bloom at TUMSAT. Photo: Kristian Sylliåsen. 

What are your expectations of living in Japan?  

I have heard great things about the food in Japan, and I am very much looking forward to experiencing good and exciting food. We do have sushi and other types of Japanese food in Norway, but I am excited to try the real deal here in Japan.  

As Tokyo is the world’s largest city, I expect the streets to be packed full of people, and I hope I don’t bump into too many of them as my eyes are fixed on the skyline. My stay in Japan also coincides with the cherry blossom season, so I am very excited to see the famous sakura in full bloom.   

What impressions do you have so far?  

I have been here for just over a week already, and I am having a really good time. The people are all very nice, and have gone out of their way to help me get started in the lab. They always have time for my questions, and I really appreciate their help.  

Picture of Waguy beef at a Japanese restaurant.
Wagyu beef at a Japanese yakiniku restaurant in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Photo: Kristian Sylliåsen. 

I have already tried lots of new and exciting food, and I am absolutely blown away by the variety, quality and taste of food here in Tokyo. Just the other day I had the best beef meal of my life. The architecture and infrastructure is also very different from what I am used to, and I very much enjoy walking around and seeing the sights of Tokyo. Going to a high viewing spot, I was surprised to see that urban area and tall buildings was all that you could see in any direction. This is very different from the rural area where I grew up in Norway, and I find the urban lifestyle of people here in Tokyo fascinating. I am also looking forward to visiting places outside of the Tokyo metropolitan area.  

Kristoffer Gustad Landsem 

Please, tell us about you and your background (subject of master thesis, where from, age, hobby etc)  

Kristoffer at a small Troll themed bar in “Golden Gai”. Photo: Kristoffer Gustad Landsem. 

Hi, my name is Kristoffer Landsem, 22 years old from Norway. I was born and raised in a small town just across the fjord from Trondheim, living high up in the hills where I could see across almost all the fjord from my living room. In my spare time I enjoy baking and cooking, and I’m very excited to try all kinds of new food here in Tokyo. I also love playing video games and watching series and movies. Currently I’m on the last semester of my master’s degree at NTNU in Trondheim, finishing my civil engineering degree in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. So far in my project I’ve been focused on doing diffusion measurements in mixtures of pig skin gelatin and cold-water fish skin gelatin, using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching. 

Which institution (research group) and topics are you going to work in? 

I will be continuing my research on fish and mammalian gelatin, and how they behave as mixtures. Fish gelatin itself is not able to form strong gels, and melts at only 8 degrees Celsius. The hope is that these mixtures are a new way to better utilize the fish gelatin, so the goal is to get a better understanding of how exactly they behave. I will be working at TUMSAT, with the “Bussei” group there. The hope is that I can do some other kinds of diffusion experiments than what I’ve been doing in Norway, such as diffusion NMR and particle tracking.  

Why did you want to take part in iFOODnet student mobility?  

Picture of the view to the west from Tokyo tower.
The view to the west from Tokyo Tower. Photo: Kristoffer Gustad Landsem. 

When I was looking for a project for my masters, I found that this one seemed very interesting. I was very interested in working with biopolymers, and after learning that I would be able to visit and work in Japan as well, I was quick to sign up to work on the project. I love to travel, and Japan is one of the countries I’ve always wanted to visit. It’s rare to get such an opportunity, and so I’m very happy I chose to take part in the project.  

What are your expectations of living in Japan?   

I expect that it’s going to be a very interesting and fun experience to just see how it is to work here. Seeing as there are so many more people in Tokyo compared to Trondheim, I’m also expecting the streets and shops to be a lot busier than I’m used to. I’m also just looking forwards to seeing and experiencing all the famous places and foods I’ve heard so much about, and I have high expectations for all of it! I hope I can meet a lot of new people here, and maybe even get some new inspirations and ideas for my project. 

What impressions do you have so far?  

Picture of The Hōzōmon Gate, leading out from the busy Nakamise-dori shopping street.
The Hōzōmon Gate, leading out from the busy Nakamise-dori shopping street. Photo: Kristoffer Gustad Landsem. 

I’ve been here for just over one week, and I’m enjoying it a lot so far. There is much to see, and the city feels so much larger and more alive than what I’m used to in Norway. It was a little overwhelming at first, but after some days I feel like I’ve gotten very comfortable. Everyone is extremely helpful and patient with me, and I’ve been lucky to get a lot of help and guidance from the other students here so far. It’s a little hard to focus on work when you want to go out and explore the city, but seeing and experiencing the laboratories here has also been very interesting. The climate is also a lot hotter than in Norway at this time, so I’m still getting used to not having to wear a jacket when I go outside.  

Student interview upon completion 2023

Updated May 2023

NTNU students Kristian Sylliåsen and Kristoffer Gustad Landsem completed their research stay in the laboratory (Lab. Physiochemical Properties) of Prof Shingo Matsukawa (TUMSAT). They worked side by side with TUMSAT students Hazuki Takagi and Yumika Hayano who completed their research stay at NTNU in 2021 under partnership supervision of Dr Catherine Taylor Nordgård (NTNU) and Dr Kurt Ingar Draget (NTNU) within [CIP#3] Biomaterials and Smart Packaging.  

Below Kristian and Kristoffer share their experiences of working and living in Tokyo. 

The view of Mt. Fuji from the viewing platform in Fujiheiwa Park (Photo: Kristoffer Gustad Landsem). 
Ueno park (Photo: Kristian Sylliåsen). 

Welcome home, Kristian! 

What was it like for you to live and work in Japan?  

I enjoyed my stay in Japan very much, and got to experience a lot. I was fortunate to be able to stay in a central location, which allowed me to explore many different neighborhoods and get a sense of what life is like in Tokyo. One of the things that struck me the most about Tokyo is how clean and organized everything is. Despite the lack of public trash cans, the streets are immaculate, and people are incredibly respectful of public spaces. The highlight of my stay was trying new and exciting foods, especially traditional Japanese dishes.  

I very much enjoyed working in the lab at TUMSAT, and the people I worked with were all very kind and helpful. It was great to get feedback on my work from new people with different perspectives, and I have learned a lot from that.   

View of Ueno park (Photo: Kristian Sylliåsen).  
The view of Mt. Fuji from the viewing platform in Fujiheiwa Park (Photo: Kristoffer Gustad Landsem). 

What did you learn most through your stay?  

I have gotten familiar with equipment and techniques that I haven’t used in Norway, which I learned a lot from. Communication is key when working with people of different nationalities, and I feel I have improved my verbal English skills, and more specifically how to discuss scientific results in English.   

Would you recommend iFOODnet mobility to other students, and why? 

I would very much recommend iFOODnet mobility to any student who wants to study abroad for a while. It is a great way to experience a new culture and meet new people. Taking part in iFOODnet mobility has definitely been one of the most valuable experiences I have had as a student.  

Welcome home, Kristoffer! 

What was it like for you to live and work in Japan?  

A path leading through Higashi-Shinagawa Kaijo Park just south of TUMSAT, taken during the cherry blossom bloom (Photo: Kristoffer Gustad Landsem).  

It was a very interesting and fun experience for me overall. Working at a completely different laboratory, and with people I’ve never talked to before has been a valuable experience. It has helped me to feel more comfortable working with new people, and to ask for help from people whenever I need it, something I did have to do quite a lot. Though it was a little challenging at first, the other students there were very helpful, making sure I always knew what to do. I also found myself incredibly impressed by how hard working the other students were, something that helped motivate me to work harder as well.  

Living in Tokyo was also a lot of fun for me, as it felt quite different from Norway. The streets were a lot busier and more alive than what I’m used to, and I always found myself just looking around whenever I went outside. No matter how many times I took the train and visited various areas of the city, I never got the feeling that I’d seen even a fraction of what it had to offer. Exploring the city and trying all kinds of new food was something I never got tired of. I enjoyed my stay there a lot, and I would love to visit Japan again sometime in the future.  

What did you learn most through your stay? 

I learned several new things by working with new methods and equipment. I’d never performed particle tracking or NMR before I stayed there, both of which I got lots of experience with. In particular I feel that I’ve gotten a very good understanding of particle tracking, getting results that I think will be helpful when I’m writing my master’s thesis. At the same time, I also learned to work in a more busy environment than I’m used to, which I think is a good experience to have. Equipment and workspaces were often busy, which forced me to get better at planning and coming up with creative solutions.  

Outside of working I also learned a little Japanese, and maybe more importantly how to communicate effectively when there is a language barrier. I also quickly had to learn how to use chopsticks, something that was a bit hard for me at first.  

Would you recommend iFOODnet mobility to other students, and why? 

I would highly recommend it to other students! Getting to visit and experience a different work environment is important for personal and professional growth in my opinion. Whether it’s learning to work with new people, or even just new equipment, I think they will find a lot of good learning experiences. Even outside of the work itself, I think just getting to visit and live in a new country for a little bit is more than reason enough itself. It’s an experience that I don’t regret, and one I’d happily repeat if I had the chance. For anyone that has even a little bit of interest in studying abroad or just traveling in general, I think that this is a great opportunity to try just that.  

Welcome home, Marwa (TUMSAT) – Student interview upon completion 2023

Updated November 2023

TUMSAT PhD Student Marwa E. Atya completed her research stay for 3 weeks at Nofima in September 2023. She worked side by side with PhD student at Nofima Ingrid Maribu and her supervisor Dr Dagbjørn Skipnes at the Department of Processing Technology in Stavanger, Norway, within [CIP#2] on innovative seaweed extraction using pulsed electric field. 

Below Marwa shares her experiences of working and living in Norway.

Welcome home, Marwa!

Please, tell us about you and your background. 

My name is Marwa E. Atya and I’m 32 years old from Egypt. I’m a third-year doctoral student at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (TUMSAT) Japan

My doctoral thesis is under the title Funoran from Gloiopeltis furcata: Extraction, chemical characterization, and gelation kinetics. I’ve conducted research on the extraction of polysaccharides, investigating their physicochemical properties, and exploring their relevance in food applications. Specifically, my doctoral research is centered around the extraction and study of funoran, with a particular emphasis on its gelation properties.

I’m also highly interested in advanced extraction techniques, as they have a significant impact on the composition and applications of natural products. As a result, I was eager to visit Nofima for a brief period to gain hands-on experience and knowledge in the use of advanced extraction techniques, such as pulsed electric field and others. 

Why did you want to take part in iFOODnet student mobility? 

Marwa E. Atya, Henriette Nygaard, Chihiro Konno, and Kazuki Kuramoto during 3rd iFOODnet training school in Norway (Photo: Marwa E. Atya). 

I was keen to participate in the iFOODnet student mobility program for several reasons. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of attending the 1st and 2nd iFOODnet training schools, which proved to be valuable opportunities for exchanging experiences and ideas. These training schools allowed me to connect with fellow students and researchers from various nationalities, fostering friendships and a sense of team spirit.

During these events, I thoroughly enjoyed engaging in discussions about intriguing scientific topics with the team. I found Norwegian students to be engaging, humorous, and exceptionally talented individuals. These interactions piqued my curiosity about the Norwegian environment and how it might influence their behavior. Consequently, I looked forward to immersing myself in the Norwegian culture and learning more about the country’s distinctive characteristics.

The environment at these training schools promoted creativity and innovation, which I found inspiring. Consequently, I was motivated to take advantage of the chance to visit Nofima and gain hands-on experience, aligning with the fantastic training school held in Stavanger, Norway, this time. It was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.

What were your expectations of living in Norway? 

Preikestolen during the Cruise (Photo: Marwa E. Atya)

Before coming to Norway, I held certain preconceptions about the country, particularly regarding its weather and relatively low population, which led me to believe it might be somewhat uneventful. However, my excitement to explore a new place, meet people from different backgrounds, and share unique experiences far outweighed any reservations.

What was it like for you to live and work in Norway? 

During my three-week stay in Norway, I was pleasantly surprised by several aspects. The weather was delightful, offering clean air and a serene atmosphere, quite distinct from the bustling city life in Tokyo. I relished the opportunity to engage in outdoor activities and immerse myself in the captivating natural beauty of the region.

Living in an impeccably organized city with a relatively small population was a unique and intriguing experience. Stavanger’s city center became a favorite spot for leisurely walks, and I also had the chance to enjoy a memorable cruise to Preikestolen. One of the highlights of my time in Norway was the diverse mix of people I encountered. I had the pleasure of interacting with fellow students, tourists, and local residents from various nationalities, enriching my cultural experiences.


Stavanger central city (Photo: Marwa E. Atya). 

The team at Nofima, both staff and students, left a strong positive impression on me. Their kindness, helpfulness, and sociable nature made the work environment enjoyable. We not only collaborated professionally but also shared conversations and meals, fostering a spirit of cooperation that added to the overall quality of my stay. Receiving feedback from colleagues with different perspectives was a valuable aspect of my time there, and I learned a great deal from these interactions. What also stood out to me was the work-life balance that Stavanger seemed to promote, allowing for quality time with family and personal pursuits. Overall, my experience of living and working in Stavanger, Norway, was truly enriching. 

Marwa E. Atya with Chiho Suzuki and Kaeda Takatsuno at the Colorful Street in Stavanger (Photo: Marwa E. Atya). 

Marwa E. Atya with Chiho Suzuki and Kaeda Takatsuno at the Colorful Street in Stavanger (Photo: Marwa E. Atya). 

Would you recommend iFOODnet mobility to other students, and why?

Absolutely, I wholeheartedly recommend the iFOODnet mobility program to other students. From my perspective, it’s a fantastic opportunity for personal and professional growth. Working in a different environment, collaborating with new colleagues, and adapting to new equipment provide valuable learning experiences. Moreover, the chance to live in a foreign country, even temporarily, is an enriching experience. I have no regrets about my participation in the program and would eagerly do it again if given the opportunity. For anyone with even a slight interest in studying abroad or traveling, this program offers an excellent chance to explore those interests.

Interview with Kaede Takatsuno and Chiho SuzukiBSc students from TUMSAT 2023

Updated November 2023

Two new BSc students arrived at Nofima, Stavanger, Norway for their 3-month research stay. In this interview, we present Kaede Takatsuno and Chiho Suzuki from the laboratory of Prof Shingo Matsukawa and Assist Prof Kigen Takahashi (TUMSAT). 

Kaede will be working under partnership collaboration between Prof Matsukawa, Ass Prof Catherine Taylor Nordgård (NTNU) and Dr Izumi Sone (Nofima) within [CIP#3], on effect of fish gelatin in dairy gel system. Chiho will be involved mainly in [CIP#2] Innovative (sea)food processing within research collaboration between Nofima, Stavanger and TUMSAT. 

Kaede Takatsuno

Many kinds of yarns at Europris (Photo: Kaede Takatsuno)

Please, tell us about you and your background (subject of master thesis, where from, age, hobby etc) 

I am Kaede Takatsuno, a 22- year-old bachelor student from TUMSAT in Japan. My bachelor thesis focusing on studying the staling mechanisms in rice flour bread using Solid-State NMR. My hobbies include traveling, sewing, and knitting. I’ve heard that knitting is popular in Norway. In fact, I brought my crochet hooks from Japan, and I bought some yarns in Stavanger. I’m looking forward to making something with them.

Which institution (research group) and topics are you going to work in?

I will study at Nofima for three months, focusing on how the different types of fish gelatins affect the gelation mechanisms of acidified milk gels. Everything is new to me in this subject. I’ve never worked with fish gelatins or milk gels before. I think this is a great opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills. I am eager to actively proceed with my research and absorb as much new things as possible during my stay.

Why did you want to take part in iFOODnet student mobility? 

Originally, I aimed to study abroad from first year of my college life, because I believed that studying abroad would provide experiences that I couldn’t have in Japan and allow me to break unconscious stereotypes. However, due to covid-19, I didn’t have a chance.  Then, finally, I got chance from my supervisor, prof. Matsukawa. And at the time, I was becoming a lab student I not only had the opportunity to take the classes but also conduct research. Actually, I have a dream to work in the food industry. Given the challenges of globalization in the Japanese food industry, I believe that conducting research at a foreign food-related research institute would be an invaluable experience.

The picturesque view of Øvre Holmegate (Photo: Kaede Takatsuno). 

What are your expectations of living in Norway?  

During my stay in Norway, I would like to improve my communication skills and gain knowledge about various skills.  I am also interested in cultural interactions. As I am starting my stay, I am not very familiar with Norwegian culture. I hope to communicate with many people in Norway and discover local foods, traditional customs, and unique cultural aspects, such as Christmas preparation, and so on. Although digressing from the main topic, since I am here in winter, I’m wondering if I could watch Aurora.

What impressions do you have so far? 

After I came to Stavanger, what surprised me the most was the picturesque city views. Wherever we look, it’s beautiful. I think in Stavanger, you can create postcards from any photo you take with these charming buildings. And I was also surprised to find more people who have been to Japan or who can speak Japanese than I expected. At a cafe I met a staff member who had visited Osaka and Kyoto last year and was planning to come to Tokyo this year. At another cafe, a man helped me with his fluent Japanese when I was confused with the dish return system. The distance between Norway and Japan is quite far, so I surprised by this fact, and I am eager to learn more about Norway.


Chiho Suzuki

Please, tell us about you and your background (subject of master thesis, where from, age, hobby etc) 

View from the plane just before landing at Sola Airport (Photo: Chiho Suzuki)

My name is Chiho Suzuki. I’m 22 years old and a fourth year undergraduate student at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.

I’m from Kumamoto Prefecture, an island in the south of Japan. It has a thriving fishing, livestock, and agricultural industry. Therefore, I felt that the view just before landing at Sola Airport was very similar to my hometown. 

I enjoy cooking and eating as hobbies, which I find helps me relieve stress. Since Norwegian food culture is considered different from that of Japan in many ways, I look forward to visiting different restaurants and trying foods that I am not familiar with in supermarkets.

Which institution (research group) and topics are you going to work in?

At Nofima, I plan to conduct research on the cryoprotective effect of fish hydrolysates, a topic related to my work in Japan. Freezing causes changes in fish meat, including reduced water retention and alterations in texture and color. To prevent these undesirable changes, cryoprotectants are added. Currently, sugars such as sucrose and sorbitol are commonly used as cryoprotectants. However, there is growing interest in exploring alternative cryoprotectants from a low-calorie, non-sweetening, and diabetes perspective. Additionally, fish hydrolysate is gaining attention as a sustainable method for utilizing fish parts that were previously discarded as waste.

Why did you want to take part in iFOODnet student mobility? 

Waterbirds in Breiavatnet (Photo: Chiho Suzuki)

Having lived in Germany, which is relatively close to Norway, though at a very young age, I’m curious to compare my fragmented memories of that time with my experiences in Norway. I hope to gain new perspectives and inspiration by immersing myself in a different culture, landscape, and language. I’m particularly interested in exploring the food culture, given my research focus on food.

What are your expectations of living in Norway?  

I have lived in Germany, which is a bit closer to Norway, but at a very young age and I don’t remember much about it. I think it may be interesting to compare fragmented memories of my life at that time with my life in Norway.

Scenery around the old town and electric scooters (Photo: Chiho Suzuki)

I hope to gain new perspectives and inspiration by encountering the culture and landscape of a place far from home, and with people who speak a different language. Among them, I am particularly interested in the food culture, as I am doing research on food.

What impressions do you have so far? 

I was surprised to see electric scooters abandoned on the side of the road. In Japan, the law on electric scooters (kickboards) was enacted only a few months ago. While rental scooters exist in Japan, they haven’t gained as much popularity, even in major cities like Tokyo, as I’ve observed in Stavanger. Notably, in Japan, rental scooters must be returned to designated parking areas, while in Norway, this isn’t necessary. I’m excited to give them a try during my stay. 

I also noticed a significant number of roundabouts on the streets, a feature I learned about when getting my driver’s license in Japan but rarely encountered there. However, in Norway, they seem to be quite common. 

It’s fascinating to discover these and other differences between Japan and Norway, beyond just transportation. I’m looking forward to experiencing more of these distinctions during my time here.

Welcome home, Kaede and Chiho (TUMSAT) – Student interview upon completion 2023

Updated March 2024

Two BSc students Kaede Takatsuno and Chiho Suzuki from TUMSAT completed their 3-month research stay at Nofima, Stavanger, Norway. 

Kaede’s work contributed to research collaboration between Prof Shingo Matsukawa, Ass Prof Catherine Taylor Nordgård (NTNU) and Dr Izumi Sone (Nofima) within [CIP#3], connected to EU project ecoeFISHent, on effect of fish gelatin in dairy gel system. Chiho worked within [CIP#2] Innovative (sea)food processing within research collaboration between Dr Izumi Sone, Nofima and Prof Kigen Takahashi, TUMSAT. 

Below Kaede and Chiho share their experiences of working and living in Stavanger.

Welcome home, Kaede!

Hiking road near my house (Photo: Kaede Takatsuno). 

What was it like for you to live and work in Norway? 

It was truly a pleasure to have such a wonderful experience in Norway. Firstly, the people I met were all kind and gentle. Additionally, I found that people in Norway have a bright energy. Thanks to their help, I could fully enjoy my stay. Secondly, the beautiful nature in Norway was therapeutic for me. Nature is more accessible from the cities in Norway compared to Japan. There were spectacular fjords and many hiking trails. On the weekends, I enjoyed exploring them and found solace in their beauty. Regarding the work in Norway, it was my first time visiting a company’s lab. It was incredibly exciting.

What did you learn most through your stay? 

During my stay in Norway, I learned the importance of communication. As a bachelor’s degree student, I was still in the process of finding my approach to research when I arrived in Norway. Prior to coming to Norway, I had studied abroad in another country for one month, focusing on different themes in each country. Initially, I found myself struggling to balance lab work, reading, and sorting out the results, as the experiments and concepts were unfamiliar to me. While I initially attempted to solve these challenges on my own, my supervisor (Izumi-san) noticed my struggles and offered valuable advice. Through this experience, I realized the importance of seeking guidance from experienced seniors. While it’s crucial to solve problems independently, consulting with seniors during difficult situations can be immensely beneficial. As a result, I learned to communicate more openly and regularly with my seniors, which ultimately reduced my anxiety about my research. Even upon returning to Japan, I intend to maintain the practice of actively seeking advice and communicating with seniors without hesitation.

Lysefjord (Photo: Kaede Takatsuno). 

Would you recommend iFOODnet mobility to other students, and why?

I highly recommend iFOODnet mobility to other students. Firstly, it is a valuable experience to belong to a lab in another country. It can be a great opportunity to improve your skills and discover that you are capable of more than you thought. During your stay, unexpected events may occur, but facing these challenges will help you develop problem-solving skills and gain confidence. Secondly, I think Norway is the best place to stay. As mentioned earlier, the people are kind, the foods are delicious, the cities are clean, and Norway’s natural scenery is stunning. Additionally, you can drink water from the tap, just like in Japan.Finally, iFOODnet mobility is a unique program. Participants receive financial support and have the opportunity to go on innovation trips to learn about food science and culture in Norway. There are also training schools where you can make friends with students in similar fields. Overall, I believe it is the best program for studying abroad.

Welcome home, Chiho!

Santa Claus and us at the Christmas market in Egersund (Photo: Chiho Suzuki)

What was it like for you to live and work in Norway? 

I was able to expand my knowledge in my field and understand different cultures. Since we were in Norway right before Christmas, I was able to learn about the traditional Norwegian Christmas celebrations and food. I also felt that many people value the time they spend with themselves and their families. I was surprised how different the work styles are in Japan and Norway.

What did you learn most through your stay? 

It is active communication. I am very introverted and was not very good at active communication. In that state, I could not express my opinions, and discussions did not go well. I realized this especially in the training school.

Aurora and Sverd i fjell (Photo: Chiho Suzuki)

Since then, I have made a conscious effort to communicate with others, and I feel that my behavior has changed considerably.

Would you recommend iFOODnet mobility to other students, and why?

Yes, of course! Data shows that the No.1 reason Japanese students give up studying abroad is the high cost of studying abroad. However, iFOODnet provides ample financial support, which is one of the reasons I decided to participate. And everyone involved in iFOODnet is very kind to us and does their best to support us.

In addition, I can force myself to grow by putting myself in a different place than usual. I can confidently recommend iFOODnet to anyone who is unsure about going abroad. It will surely be a great experience for you.

Mini symposium

Mini symposium on seafood processing in Stavanger and visit to NTNU, 2023
Picture of participants at the mini symposium.
Mini symposium on seafood processing with participants from TUMSAT, Nofima, and UiS. Photo: Izumi Sone 

Updated March 2023

By Yusa Nakamura, TUMSAT.

Assoc. Prof. Mario Shibata, Assist. Prof. Kigen Takahashi, and PhD-student Yusa Nakamura from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (TUMSAT) visited Nofima, the University of Stavanger (UiS), and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) to promote educational and research collaboration between Norway and Japan on 23rd–27th January 2023.  

Mini symposium on seafood processing was held at Nofima in Stavanger.

Researchers from Nofima and TUMSAT gave presentations on their research, such as fish welfare, blood removal from fish, and nondestructive analysis of fish quality.

Picture of participants.
Participants from TUMSAT, Nofima, and UiS at the mini symposium. Photo: Izumi Sone 

Prof. Infunn Westvik Jolma (UiS) and Assoc. Prof. Shibata also introduced their university. Dr. Morten Sivertsvik and Prof. Jolma toured us to their facilities. It helped for understanding their daily lab life and the strength of their research and institution. 

We also visited some companies related to seafood processing and farming, such as Mowi (salmon factory and farm), Ryfylke rensefisk (cleaner fish farm), Norwegian Lobster Farm, and Urchinomics (sea urchin farm).

Those company visits were organized by Dr. Izumi Sone (Nofima) who is the project manager of iFOODnet.

Picture from visit to MOWI.
Visit to Mowi. The factory manager Per Magne Gabrielsen showed the production at Mowi South. Photo: Izumi Sone 

In Mowi and Norwegian Lobster Farm, automatic systems have been introduced by using novel equipment and artificial intelligence. Ryfylke rensefisk has farmed cleaner fish for the removal of sea lice from salmon.

We could obtain a new approach to the solution of parasite challenges because most Japanese fish farmers have not used cleaner fish yet. Urchinomics has tried to achieve the recovery of the marine ecosystem by farming sea urchins in their business. We tasted Urchinomics’s sea urchin, and it was very nice! 

Prof. Turid Rustad, Prof. Jørgen Lerfall, and Asso. Prof. Anita Nordeng Jakobsen welcomed us at NTNU in Trondheim. Prof. Lerfall and Asso. Prof. Jakobsen introduced NTNU. Prof. Rustad and Prof. Lerfall also introduced their lab to us.

Picture of CEO of Norwegian lobster farm showing the facilities of the farm.
CEO Asbjørn Drengstig of Norwegian Lobster Farm introduced their farm facilities. Photo: Izumi Sone 

The NTNU researchers and we were able to exchange information on the educational and research situation in Japan and Norway. We also talked with Julia Zazhigina, a staff of the office of international relations at NTNU, on the exchange program between TUMSAT and NTNU.

Both university’s department of food science has contributed to progress in seafood science research. Thus, the academic collaboration between these universities will bring a lot of benefits for students and researchers. 

During this visit, we obtained a lot of precious knowledge of the seafood industry, processing, and research in Norway. Interestingly, the important viewpoints on fish quality were different between Japan and Norway.

Tasting of fresh sea urchins.
Tasting fresh sea urchin at Urchinomics Photo: Izumi Sone

TUMSAT and Nofima continue to research collaborations in seafood science, leveraging their respective strengths.

Furthermore, TUMSAT plans to construct a continuous student exchange program with UiS and NTNU. Thus, our good partnership between Japan and Norway which has been promoted based on iFoodnet and JSPS International Joint Research Program contributes to the development of seafood science and industries.  

Innovation activities

iFOODnet Innovation Trip 2022

Updated September 2022

By Yumika Hayno & Hazuku Takagi

We helped preparing the dinner at Prof. Torset’s home. Picture taken by Prof. Torset

We had a great time during our trip to Ålesund. It was a 2-day program. On the first day, we visited NTNU in Ålesund. Surprisingly, I met a PhD student graduated from my university, TUMSAT! We were so excited to meet another Japanese student in Norway. We talked a lot about her research, the reason why she decided to live in Norway. We stayed at Prof. Torset’s home and had a dinner together. Her family welcomed and treated us kindly. On the dinner time, we enjoyed talking about Norwegian and Japanese culture, favorite Norwegian food and its recipe, lifestyle in Japan and so on. It was the best time during this trip.

Second day, we took a campus tour and went to the Aquarium Atlanterhavsparken. We found interesting that there were no bright color fish and blue back fish with glittery skin unlike Japan. This is because the sea in Norway is mostly deep sea due to the fjord. After the aquarium tour, we went to the central of the city and had a wonderful time. I bought a cheese cutter; it is very famous souvenir in Norway. On the way back to Trondheim we took a Hurtigruten boat. The trip on the boat offered a great viewing and comfortable seat and more great than what I expected before. We talked about these two months, this trip and future. At all, we had a great time in Ålesund.

iFOODnet Innovation Trip 2023, Bergen, Norway 
The view at the top of Fløyen (Photo: Ayda Omar Mohamed) 

Updated February 2023

By Fumika Tomono & Ayda Omar Mohamed  

We had a 2-day trip to Bergen and visited the Norwegian Fisheries Museum in Bergen.  The museum visit was planned for the second day, so we spent the first day exploring the city of Bergen. 

The city center was decorated for Christmas, so we took the chance and walked around the Christmas market. The market had many shops, food trucks and carousels, Fumika bought souvenirs from the market.

We took lunch at the fish market in Bergen center and had fried shrimp, very delicious. Then we rested at the hotel after having dinner in a local restaurant.

Lunch at the fish market (Photo: Ayda Omar Mohamed) 

In the evening, we decided to visit one of the most famous sights, Fløyen. We took the fløibane (a funicular railway) to highest point (400 m) and viewed the city of Bergen at the night-time, it was magical. 

On the second day, we visited the Norwegian Fisheries Museum.

There we boarded a boat and were taken to a salmon farm. There were several circular fish ponds floating on the sea, each about 50 meters in diameter.

Each pond is connected to a central facility by a hose, and dead salmon are automatically collected and stored in silage.

They are used as fertilizer for agriculture and other purposes. The inside of the hose is cleaned with a round sponge. 

Boat trip at Norwegian Fisheries Museum (Photo: Ayda Omar Mohamed) 

It was very interesting to actually see the cameras used to check on the salmon and the machine that automatically spreads the food.

We also had the unforgettable experience of walking along the edge of the fish pond to see the salmon, and being on a boat, and experiencing wind speeds of over 100 km/h.

It was a very fulfilling trip to Bergen! 

iFOODnet innovation trip in Tokyo, 2023

Updated March 2023

By Ayda Omar Mohamed and Fumika Tomono 

We visited Tokyo and had a 4-days trip. We took a flight from the city of Abashiri in Hokkaido to Tokyo, where some activity was planned such as a visit to the university of agriculture campus and museum and a course to learn how to make nerikiri

Picture of the outside of the Tokyo university of agriculture.
Tokyo university of agriculture during the museum visit. (Photo: Ayda Omar Mohamed) 

First day we arrived we visited Food and Agriculture Museum, Tokyo University of Agriculture. The museum exhibited many local chickens, beautiful historical vessels from various regions that have supported the sake culture, and agricultural implements. It was interesting to compare the characteristics and egg sizes of the different types of chickens, as Tokyo University of Agriculture has been studying many different types of chickens. Also on display were the actual equipment used in the past, which allowed visitors to learn about the process of sake production. 

Afterwards, we visited the famous Yoyogi park and witnessed the bloomed trees with amazing view and weather. And explored the city part of Harajuku. Next day, we experienced the Japanese culture of tea ceremony. There, we made nerikiri, a traditional Japanese confectionery. We made two kinds of nerikiri, one in the shape of cherry blossoms and the other of Hina dolls for the hinamatsuri (Girls’ Festival in March). Afterwards, we made matcha to go with the nerikiri we made. 

Picture of the Nerikiri class.
The Nerikiri class. (Photo: Ayda Omar Mohamed)

Later that day we visited the cultural part of Tokyo where we visited Asakusa and senso-ji temple. A busy street with various of shops of souvenirs and delicious food. Also, we planned to visit one of the most famous attractions in Tokyo, which was the Tokyo Sky-Tree where we could view Tokyo. We walked and explored Shibuya and tried local coffee shops and deserts.     

The central Tokyo station was a must visit and the imperial palace which was rich with history information. Last two days, we took a trip to Shibuya sky and enjoyed the night view of Tokyo from 230 meters hight. We had great time and enjoyed exploring Tokyo and visiting famous attractions and trying good food. Lastly, we took the flight back to Abashiri, where we continued with the laboratory experiments.  

Trip to Mt Fuji and KIRIN whiskey distillery, Japan 2023
Picture of the students with Mt. Fuji in the background.
Hazuku Takagi, Yumika Hayano, Kristian Sylliåsen and Kristoffer Gustad Landsem with Mt. Fuji in the background. (Photo: Hazuku Takagi).  

Updated May 2023

By Kristian Sylliåsen and Kristoffer Gustad Landsem 

We went on a day-trip to Gotemba to visit Mt. Fuji and the KIRIN whiskey distillery. When we first arrived, we went to Fujiheiwa park, a popular viewing spot of Mt. Fuji that also featured various shrines, statues and architecture from different Asian countries. Some Sakura trees were still in bloom during our visit to the park, which made for a beautiful viewing experience.  

After spending some time in the park, we went to a large outside shopping centre near the heart of Gotemba to eat lunch. We enjoyed a nice lunch consisting of several small traditional Japanese dishes.  

Picture of a distillation column that is no longer in use at the KIRIN whiskey distillery.
A distillation column that is no longer in use at the KIRIN whiskey distillery. (Photo: Hazuku Takagi) 

After lunch, we took a 20-minutes bus ride to the KIRIN whiskey distillery where we had a guided tour of the facility. The tour started with a video presentation explaining the history and significance of the distillery. After the presentation, we got to see the entire production process from grain stage to packaging. Our guide explained each step that went into the whiskey making process and a little about how the machinery worked. It was very interesting to see the various steps that went into making the whiskey and seeing just how large-scale the production was.  

After the guided tour, we got to enjoy a small whiskey-tasting where we got to sample a couple of whiskeys produced at the distillery. We were shown a few different ways to enjoy the whiskey, and how to best enjoy each type based on their taste profiles.  

We had a great trip and got to experience a lot in the short time that we were in Gotemba.   

Trip to Freialand, Oslo, Norway 2023
Chocolates in Freialand (Photo: Kaede Takatsuno)

Updated March 2024

By Kaede Takatsuno & Chiho Suzuki

We had a two-day trip to Norway’s capital, Oslo. On the first morning, we visited Freialand, a chocolate factory. Freia is the famous chocolate company in Norway.

At Freialand, we learned about the history of chocolate itself and the company. I was surprised to learn that the average chocolate consumption per year in Norway was 10 kg!

From the perspective of food science, we learned that chocolate played a role in compensating for children’s lack of vitamins in the past.

Christmas market in Oslo (Photo: Kaede Takatsuno)

In the afternoon, we visited the Norsk Folkemuseum. It was cold, but the historical items and architecture were beautiful and interesting.

Finally, at night, we visited a Christmas market. We enjoyed frankfurters, hot chocolate, and Gløgg, etc. Since the Christmas atmosphere in Norway was more enthusiastic than in Japan, it was a great experience for us to participate in it.

On the second day, we visited Oslo City Hall. I was surprised to see the large murals and many other works of art displayed there, which were completely different from the Japanese city halls I know.

Next, we visited the Royal Palace of Norway. We were allowed to walk right up to the front of the palace. This was a new experience for us as the dates and times when visitors can see the Imperial Palace up close are limited in Japan.

The large murals in Oslo City Hall (Photo: Chiho Suzuki)

Tired from all the walking, we had coffee at a cafe called “Fuglen”. They have stores in Tokyo and Oslo. We were very surprised when the cafe staff spoke to us in Japanese! I wondered if they had learned it from the frequent visits of Japanese tourists.

I plan to visit the Tokyo store next time. The two days in snowy Oslo were a series of new experiences that we will never forget.

Spreading good news

Joint conference contribution 2022

Prof Matsukawa (TUMSAT, Japan) presented his joint work with Dr Catherine T. Nordgård and Dr Kurt Ingar Draget (NTNU, Norway) as oral presentation at 16th International Hydrocolloids Conference at Ontario, Canada (24-26 October 2022), under the title: “Physical properties of mixed gels of fish & mammalian gelatins”. 

Morten (Nofima), Takahashi sensei and Yuusa Nakamura (TUMSAT) together at the WEFTA conference in Rotterdam, in front of the iFOODnet poster. Photo: Morten Sivertsvik/Nofima

The join conference contribution is a result of the student exchange (May-July 2023) and join work between the two universities involving TUMSAT MSc students Hazuki Takagi and Yumika Yahano. 

Further, we have presented iFOODnet project at two international conferences for food science and technology. 

iFOODnet partners from Japan, Assist. Prof. Takahashi (TUMSAT) and his PhD and MSc students joined and presented poster and oral presentations at the 50th Western European Fish Technologists Association (WEFTA)  in Rotterdam, Netherlands (17th – 21th October 2022) together with Prof Turid Rustad (NTNU), Dr Morten Sivertsvik and Dr Izumi Sone (Nofima) from Norway. This pleasant meeting was jointly supported by iFOODnet and JSPS collaboration project between TUMSAT and Nofima.

iFOODnet project and our CIP-centered collaboration for research and education were presented again at the 36thEFFoST International Conference in the following month in Dublin. 

Image gallery

About iFOODnet

The project iFOODnet (Towards a Norway – Japan Innovative Research & Training Network Driving Next-Generation Food Systems) will develop world-class research and education in Norway upon long-term Noway-Japan (inter)national partnership on four cross-disciplinary/sectoral innovation pillars (CIPs) paving the way towards next-generation sustainable, resource-efficient, zero-waste food systems, and eventually, a smart, circular & resilient bioeconomy 4.0.

iFOODnet is anchored on the four strategic cross-disciplinary/sectoral innovation pillars (CIPs), expanding the scope of the NFR funded iNOBox project.

In iFOODnet, Nofima, the Europe’s largest applied food science & aquaculture research institute teams up with Norwegian University of Technology & Science (NTNU) to build long-term, international collaboration with Tokyo University of Marine Science & Technology (TUMSAT) and Tokyo University of Agriculture (TokyoNODAI).

iFOODnet’s International Training Research & Innovation Programme (ITP) will feature CIP-based student mobility with a short-term innovation mission, annual Training School and dissemination training events, to equip early-stage researchers with innovation-oriented & entrepreneurial mind-sets, in-depth research-enabling competences, transferrable/cross-cutting skills, and cultural diversity.

iFOODnet project is  financed by the Research Council of Norway and the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education (Diku), within the RCN INTPART programme – International Partnerships for Excellent Education, Research and Innovation.


In iFOODnet, Nofima, the Europe’s largest applied science food research institute teams up with Norwegian University of Technology & Science (NTNU) to build long-term, international collaboration with strong academic groups in Japan, at Tokyo University of Marine Science & Technology (TUMSAT) and Tokyo University of Agriculture (TokyoNODAI).

Logos iFOODnet partners

Work packages

The iFOODnet project is divided into three work packages (WP).

WP1: International Training Research & Innovation Programme

Contact persons: Izumi Sone

WP1.1. Training and Innovation 

iFOODnet will develop and implement International Training Research & Innovation Programme (ITP) in Japan and Norway, featuring annual Training Schools and short-term innovation missions as integral part of CIP-based student mobility (WP1.2). The Training School will engage students in network-wide training events to foster teamwork, interpersonal/-cultural communication and transferable skills with emphasis on internship training (challenge-based assignment; industry visits), innovation & IPR management and RRI implementation.

WP1.2. Research and Innovation  

We will establish Norway-Japan highly-collaborative platform for scientific cooperation through cross-disciplinary/sectoral innovation pillars (CIPs), to be at the international forefront of future food research. Student mobility will be instrumental to the research collaboration.

The primary target group is MSc students in both countries, envisaged for a 3-month research stay each year under partnership supervision. Student of the Year Award will be granted providing e.g. conference grant, work placement, upon excellence.

In addition, two Open multi-thematic workshops will be organised in both countries to enhance international research, education, innovation interface.

WP2 Formalisation of Institutional Partnership

Contact persons: Eva Falch and Ragni Nergård

To ensure long-term international partnership, iFOODnet will establish bilateral agreements between the iFOODnet partners as well as academic accreditation for the iFOODnet student activities. Furthermore, we will continously investigate possibilities for future joint programmes beyond the project lifespan.

WP3 Coordination and Communication & Dissemination

Contact persons: Izumi Sone and Estefanía Noriega Fernández

WP3.1. Network Coordination 

The project manager coordinates the efforts in the various work packages and ensures good progress and good internal communication among the project partners. iFOODnet will be built upon shared responsibilities among partners to facilitate the ownership and int’l relevance of the project.

Project managers
Dr Izumi Sone and Dr Estefania Noriega Fernández, Nofima

Project administrator
Dr Morten Sivertsvik, Nofima

Scientific coordinator
Dr Estefania Noriega Fernández

Local managers / WP leaders
Prof Turid Rustad (NTNU, LM)
Assoc Prof Eva Falch (NTNU, WP2 leader)
Prof Shingo Matsukawa (TUMSAT, LM)
Prof Yoshimasa Sagane (TokyoNODAI, LM)

CIP leaders
CIP#1: Prof. Kuda (TUMSAT) and Dr Estefania Noriega Fernández (NOFIMA)
CIP#2: Prof. Sagane (TokyoNODAI) and Assoc Prof Lerfal (NTNU)
CIP#3: Prof Matsukawa (TUMSAT) and Dr Nordgård (NTNU)
CIP#4: Prof Myoda (TokyoNODAI) and Prof. Rustad (NTNU)

WP3.2. Communication & Dissemination (CD) 

This WP is dedicated to communicating iFOODnet joint efforts and outcome through targeted, multilevel CD strategy to the wider scientific community, policymakers, the media, and society, thus maximizing the project impact and geographical coverage, also facilitating continuous recruitment and involvement of iFOODnet young talents.

Sectorial innovation pillars (CIPs)

1. Bioprospection of Novel Biomolecules & Microbiome Sequencing

Metagenome screening & omics tools will play a major role in identifying and targeting new genetic resources & biomolecules, and predicting changes in biodiversity, eventually unlocking the enormous potential of microbiomes towards public-health, food processing & biotechnology.

Promoting diversity within food systems will be crucial for healthy & sustainable diets, strengthened resilience and socioeconomic & environmental benefits.

2. Innovative Food Processing and Functionality

Resource-efficient, eco-friendly & climate-smart innovative technologies and functional ingredients will play a key role in the world supply of diverse, safe, high-quality & nutritious foods, ultimately contributing to public health & wellbeing and food loss and waste & emissions reduction.

Just 5% food waste reduction will save 207 MNOK and 0.02% emissions, with each extra-day’s shelf life accounting for 483 MNOK per year.

3. Biomaterials and Smart Packaging

Rethinking food waste and side-streams as a resourceful aid for inexpensive new-generation biomaterials (>$2.6 bill revenues from green plastics) and striving for smart food (nano-)packaging solutions (4% CAGR in 2017-2023) upon sustainable bottom-up zero-waste (minimal) processing will contribute to the EU 2020 target of 10% of market plastics being biomaterials and the UN SDG to halve food waste by 2030 (≈21 BNOK/yr, 24% from food industry).

4. Food Waste Biorefinery

FoodFirst zero-waste cascade biorefinery is a cost-effective cross-sectoral niche opportunity for valorisation of food waste & underutilised feedstocks into commercially-sound functional-food bioactives, besides biopolymers, precursors for animal feed, biofuel & fertiliser.

Macroalgae biorefinery is e.g. expected to disrupt the traditional value-chain (in 5 years, 50 SMEs / 500 new high-skilled workforce), while relieving pressure on ecosystem services and mitigating climate change.