NIZO Plant Protein Functionality Conference offers first dedicated platform for plant protein research

Science and industry came together at the NIZO Plant Protein Functionality Conference, through the close partnership of NIZO and conference organiser Elsevier. This event, the first dedicated to plant proteins, gave researchers an opportunity to share their findings, while enabling delegates to connect with presenters and peers. The conference was held online on 21 and 22 October, 2020, and brought together 465 delegates from 42 countries. But thanks to the unique platform, delegates can continue to access the content from the event ‘on-demand’ until 31 December 2020.

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Fred van de Velde - NIZO Plan Protein Functionality Congress.

During this event you will be able to meet experts from all over the world to discuss the molecular properties of plant proteins in relation to processing and application, covering fermentation and safety aspects.

René Floris - NIZO Plan Protein Functionality Congress.

During this event you will be able to meet experts from all over the world to discuss the molecular properties of plant proteins in relation to processing and application, covering fermentation and safety aspects.

The latest research in plant protein functionality

The market for plant-based proteins is growly strongly, but until now there hasn’t been an outlet exclusively for the science behind the sector. This was the motivation for NIZO and Elsevier to organise the ‘NIZO Plant Protein Functionality Conference’, bringing together expert speakers, researchers and industry stakeholders to share and discuss the latest research in plant protein functionality.

Like every scientific field, plant-based protein research is constantly full of surprises. Much of the exploration goes ‘under the radar’. Conferences provide a critical outlet to bring this new information to an interested audience. “Plant-based proteins have been included at events on connected topics, such as sustainability, energy and water usage, etc., but there has not been a space to really explore the richness of the science. To go beyond the idea that ‘finding new proteins can support sustainability’, and to dive into ‘how can we make that happen in the real world’, for example. This is something NIZO already does for dairy-based proteins, and we wanted to bring that format and knowledge to the plant-based protein community”, comments René Floris, Division Manager Food for NIZO, and member of the Organising Committee.

“For this event, we focused specifically on the production chain from the extraction of the protein to the sensory properties of the product. Our four main themes were centred around the talks by our inspirational keynote speakers on extraction, functionality and application; the added value of fermentation; processes and sustainability; and biochemical modification,” explains event Chairperson Fred van de Velde, Group Leader Protein Functionality at NIZO.

Highlighting innovations in science

With the Young Scientist Award, sponsored by Elsevier’s Future Foods Journal on sustainability in food science, the conference aimed to encourage the efforts of the upcoming generation. “The participation of younger people in science is critical. Of the 70 posters accepted for the event, 7 were selected as finalists. Our congratulations to winner Audrey Cosson, and runner-up Martina Klost,” says Marie-Claire Morley, Project Lead, Conferences, at Elsevier and member of the Organising Committee.

In addition, all contributors of an oral or poster presentation at the NIZO Plant Protein Functionality Conference are invited to submit a manuscript for a Special Issue of Future Foods, by 1 March 2021.

Content-rich, online programme

Despite the global health crisis, scientific discovery continues. “Researchers still need an outlet to present their work. We took a fresh look at what delegates would like from a conference: an opportunity to network around and interact with fantastic content. Then we found ways to add new value with the online format”, explains Nigel Clear, Commercial Director at Elsevier and member of the Organising Committee.

“We both brought our strengths into play: Elsevier trusted us to handle the content side, we trusted them to do the technical part. They had their strong contacts in the scientific community, we had our customer relationships. The chemistry between NIZO and Elsevier is what made it work,” agrees René Floris.

NIZO plant protein

During the live event, delegates could attend the presentations of their choice, pose questions via text, and set up one-on-one meetings. For the posters, the organisers created a ‘meeting room’ experience, where 15 delegates could hear from the presenter and discuss the topic in a group. “We wanted to create opportunities for delegates to interact with the content, not just passively consume it, as they would with a standard webinar. In a digital environment, it is much easier for a delegate to simply leave, with just a mouse-click. This makes content quality, speaker selection and careful moderation even more critical. For this first experience, we could not have had a better partner than NIZO,” says Nigel Clear.

Delegates can access content ‘on demand’

The digital format of the conference offered several clear advantages for the delegates. Firstly, holding the event online, and spreading it over two half-days rather than one full day, increased the accessibility for diverse participants and the global reach. In addition, while the content from a physical conference is anchored in a specific time and place, with the online conference platform, the delegates and other interested people can continue to view the content after the event ‘on-demand’.

The science-based programme proved a big success, attracting 465 delegates from 42 countries. The result is a testament to the quality and value of the content, and of the online format. But it also clearly supports NIZO’s belief that there is a high demand for a platform that brings research and industry together in the plant-based protein sector. “About half of the delegates were from the research side, which we were very pleased about. These are the people who are seeking ways to translate knowledge into reality; to practice science that makes a difference in the real world. By focussing our conference on this research, we created a unique programme that meets the needs of both groups”, concludes René Floris.

The content* from the conference can be accessed until 31 December 2020.

  • Were you a delegate at the live event? Just log-in to revisit the content*, as many times as you like.
  • You couldn’t attend the event? You can still register and have full access to the available content* until 31 December 2020.

*Please note that ‘on-demand’ access includes recordings of talks and slides, poster pitches and posters from authors that have agreed for post-event distribution. We cannot guarantee on-demand access to all presentations.


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Elsevier is a world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. Working in partnership with the global science and health communities, Elsevier’s 7,000 employees in over 70 offices worldwide publish more than 2,500 peer-reviewed journals and more than 11,000 online books. In 2010 Elsevier launched SciVerse, an innovative platform for electronic solutions such as ScienceDirectScopus, Scirus, and SciTopics enabling more efficient search and discovery for our users. SciVerse combines peer-reviewed content with product enhancing applications to facilitate collaboration, reward innovation and to accelerate science.

Any questions?

René Floris is happy to answer all your questions.

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