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

Last update

Read in Norwegian


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)

Project Manager(s):

Izumi Sone

Progress and results

iFOODnet Training school

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

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.   

Student mobility

Interview with two MSc students from Japan

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.

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.