Nebraska Research Initiative to Help Fund Equipment at NIC

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May 21, 2015

The Nebraska Research Initiative has approved a $1 million proposal from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Food Science and Technology and The Food Processing Center to help purchase equipment for the Food Innovation Center pilot plant at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

The new equipment will advance The Food Processing Center's ability to serve industry partners, entrepreneurs and others in the state. NRI, a state-funded program created in 1988 to build research capacity and expertise at the university, funds proposals across the four NU campuses on a competitive basis.

The cornerstone piece of equipment will be a 55-liter high-pressure pasteurization unit, which will be a significant upgrade from the current 2-liter unit. High-pressure processing is a nonthermal process that produces safer, fresher, more natural and better-tasting food.

"This equipment will allow us to work with entrepreneurs worldwide to further test and develop their products," said Rolando Flores, head of the food science and technology department and director of the processing center.

The center works closely with Universal Pasteurization in Lincoln to assist local entrepreneurs with product development. 

"Clients come to us with an idea and we refer them to the FPC for product development and testing," said Melanie Galloway, chief executive officer of Universal Pasteurization. "The upgrade to a 55-liter unit will help greatly with scalability and allow us to build new partnerships.  

"UNL already provides a wealth of resources to food producers," she said. "Adding this new capability in a state-of-the-art facility at Nebraska Innovation Campus makes Nebraska the place to be for future product development."

The Food Innovation Center is a 178,000-square-foot complex that houses the Department of Food Science and Technology, The Food Processing Center, ConAgra Foods Research-sponsored space and research activities of other private companies. The center provides world-class facilities for the food science and technology department and private partners in leased space. The NIC Food Innovation Center includes a distance education classroom, wet/dry lab research space, food-grade/nonfood-grade pilot plant space and office space. The facility focuses on facilitating private/public partnerships.

The new equipment and resources at NIC will help link the expertise of UNL faculty to the private sector so research needs can be met. 

"The demand for these resources is escalating rapidly," said Archie Clutter, Agricultural Research Division dean. "Along with that demand comes research and development needs in the private sector, and the NIC will provide the platform to meet those needs."

Jill Brown
Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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