Published 2024

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Publication details

Journal : Trends in Food Science & Technology , vol. 148 , p. 1–7 , 2024

Publisher : Elsevier

International Standard Numbers :
Printed : 0924-2244
Electronic : 1879-3053

Publication type : Academic article

Contributors : Carraresi, Laura; Borge, Grethe Iren Andersen; Mohamed Gaber Mohamed, Sara; Gaarder, Mari Øvrum; Hersleth, Stine Alm; Ueland, Øydis; Varela-Tomasco, Paula; Gonera, Antje

Research areas

Innovation research

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Background: Prototypes play a central role in applied food research and innovation (R&I), serving as the initial representations of new products, process, or project ideas. They function as "boundary objects", facilitating interdisciplinary dialogue, knowledge creation, and cooperation. Despite their significance, challenges arise due to the differing perspectives and creative behaviors of scientists in this field. This commentary addresses the question of how prototypes can foster collaboration across disciplines in applied food R&I. Scope and approach: Our study explores the application of prototypes within the disciplines of innovation management, consumer and sensory science, and food science and technology. We provide an overview of the diverse roles of prototypes in the R&I process and elucidate their function of bridging interdisciplinary gaps and facilitating knowledge exchange. Furthermore, we analyze the use of prototypes across those disciplines, emphasizing their role as communication facilitators and mutual learning tools. Key findings and conclusions: While prototypes are indispensable in applied food R&I, they are predominantly employed in distinct phases according to the discipline, with a lack of interdisciplinary collaboration. However, we observed that prototypes often serve similar purposes across disciplines. Thus, we propose a wider integration of prototyping into research processes, to facilitate communication, improve mutual learning and knowledge exchange, and make research outputs easily transferable. Experienced facilitators should holistically manage diverse prototypes, fostering an iterative project model that transcends disciplinary boundaries. Our commentary emphasizes the transformative potential of prototypes advocating for their informed usage across disciplines to advance cross-disciplinary collaboration and align research outcomes with societal needs, thus supporting responsible applied food R&I.