Quebec’s recently unveiled provincial budget includes one new line-item that means a lot for McGill research. The province has allocated $1 million per year for five years for the creation of the McGill Agrifood Innovation Network (M.A.I.N.), led by the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and CTAQ (Conseil de la Transformation Alimentaire du Quebec) in collaboration with Saint-Hyacinthe Food Research and Development Centre (CRDA,) and other universities. The McGill University Business Engagement Centre (MUBEC) was key to the success of this network initiative.
Vice-Principal of Research and International Relations Rosie Goldstein remarked, “McGill is grateful to the Quebec government for their support of M.A.I.N., which aims to align and focus McGill’s research and innovation strengths with agribusiness policies in government and industry. The network will also promote scientific entrepreneurship, talent development and commercialization. Congratulations to the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Science, MUBEC, and the Office of Sponsored Research for their success in establishing this network initiative.”
The new consortium’s work will be based on an increased consumer demand for minimally processed, preservative-free food products with a longer shelf-life. In the short term, the goal is use natural ingredients in an economically viable way to extend shelf-life. Natural food ingredients, including plant extracts and their essential oils, enzymes, peptides, bacteriophages and fermented ingredients, can be used as potential antimicrobial alternatives to synthetic preservatives. Another facet of the collaboration will be the development of mapping tools linking the chemical profile of natural ingredients to their antimicrobial/antioxidant properties, and the development of edible and non-edible antimicrobial/antioxidant packaging systems.
This initiative is aimed at promoting industrial innovation through the building of collaborative research projects, which address the priorities and the needs of food processors from CTAQ, as well as increase the global competitiveness of the Quebec agri-food sector.