Food Innovation Centre
The Food Innovation Centre (FIC), at Loughry Campus, provides an environment to stimulate and support the process of idea generation. Innovation, product development and creativity are essential for success in the food and drinks industry.
The Food Innovation Centre comprises product development labs, sensory suites, an ideas hub and a package prototyping lab to assist in the creation of new food concepts to meet the needs of a dynamic market place. The facilities within the centre are used by students and many food businesses, retailers and industry bodies working in our agri-food sector.
Robotics and Automation for agri-food
The collaborative project between CAFRE, the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC) at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) provides the food manufacturing industry with fully functional and customised robotics and automation solutions in order to improve productivity, sustainability and resilience through optimising yield, minimising waste, increasing food safety, maximising operator safety and reducing operational costs.
The project uses virtual modelling of food production processes in “real time” to accelerate awareness and demonstrate the need for the industry to invest in automation technology. The project involves research at the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC) at QUB with virtual modelling and demonstration at the Food Innovation Centre.
Sensory analysis suite
The sensory analysis suite includes a dedicated preparation kitchen, ten individual computerised assessment booths with adjustable lighting.
The preparation kitchen is a dedicated unit which aims to prepare products for assessment in an area which mimics the home/food service environment. Products are presented as required by individual business, for example colour of trays, portion size, product temperature, etc.
The British Standard (BS EN ISO 8589:2010+A1:2014) design of the ten computerised assessment booths provides panellists with a private environment to critically evaluate products. This quiet room is designed to eliminate bias during product assessments. The assessment findings from all panellists are collated and analysed through Compusense 5, computer software, to provide reliable and repeatable results.
Behavioural assessment room
The behavioural assessment room is a focus group area designed to stimulate product assessment through group discussion and product interaction. The room is fitted with audio and visual recording devices designed to capture group behaviours, including nonverbal communication for future off campus assessment. In addition, there is an observation area, designed to provide discrete viewing located adjacent to the room.
Two kitchens, one dedicated for education and one for commercial use to facilitate the conversion of ideas into market ready products. The commercial kitchen is situated in a discreet location, with lock down access to allow confidential product development.
Process control laboratory
A small laboratory to conduct process control evaluations to assist in technical problem solving during the product development process.
Cooking validation laboratory
The Cooking Validation Kitchen at Loughry is designed to allow cooking validations to be completed for a range of cooking methods including oven (electric, gas and fan assisted ovens) hob, grill and microwave cooking. The cooking validation methodology is completed using UKAS certified reference thermometers and results obtained using data loggers are compiled in a client report for use in a variety of situations including BRC accreditation.