In vitro models are research settings in which biological materials such as microorganisms, cells and cellular components (molecules) are isolated from their natural environment and used for testing in the lab, in a test tube/flask. This type of research is performed to mimic aspects of the actual biological (in vivo) situation, in a strictly controlled way. In vitro technologies can be applied for gaining more detailed mechanistic insights in the way of working of specific (food)ingredients and potential drugs.

Another purpose of in vitro models is to screen large numbers of ingredients for specific characteristics, in a high-throughput manner. In vitro models can mimic all sorts of physiological processes, such as digestion, gut fermentation, absorption or immune function. Fermentation models, in specific, focus on microbiota and probiotic related type of research. Latest research with in vitro models focusses on combining various technologies.