Monday, 26 September 2011

Functional Food Unit leads innovation at CPUT

INNOVATORS:  Prof Spinney Benade and Dr Maretha Opperman are leading innovators at CPUT.

Researchers at the Functional Food Unit have taken their research outcomes one step further, converting it into sellable products.

After an injection of R3.2 million from the CPUT Innovation Fund in 2009, researchers at the unit embarked on various studies focusing on ways and means of increasing human intake of omega-3 fish oil, which plays a vital role in the prevention of several chronic diseases.

Now, three years later, the researchers’ efforts have paid off with the patenting of a fish-oil supplement capsule and a food supplement premix, which can be added to various products. Head of the Bellville based unit Prof Spinney Benade says their products are unique.

“The capsules are unique as it contains a distinctive combination of vitamin E, which is derived from natural sources. The capsules currently on the market only have one form of vitamin E, which is synthetic,” he says.

The food supplement premix, boasting similar characteristics to that of the capsule, can be mixed into cereals and several other food products. The pre-mix does not act as food flavoring but as an omega-3 fish oil supplement aimed at preventing micronutrient deficiencies.

Dr Maretha Opperman who works alongside Prof Benade said commercializing research is a lengthy procedure, which has to be meticulously followed. Apart from research, clinical trials and other scientific processes, the unit also had to deal with the legalities of patenting.

However, with continued support from CPUT’s Technology Transfer Office, they are now in the final stages of the commercialisation process and hope to launch the products early next year.

Opperman said in addition to the commercialisation aspects, they produced several journal articles and identified other research ventures related to omega-3 fish oil.

By Candes Keating

Written by CPUT News