The project which will be realized by hundred members research team under the motto CREATING WEALTH FROM THE WEALTH OF SERBIA is directed to the integrated research in the fields of technology, techniques, economy and management in three key areas in which potential impacts on food production and marketing are foreseen:  (1) optimization of postharvest treatment of the most significant agricultural products directed to achievement of cost based competitiveness of the products, (2) production of supplement, food products and beverages with functional properties as the added value for the consumers and (3) utilization of potentials and tradition of rural regions through merging of diversified agriculture offer.

Investigations in the areas of (1) achievement of complete traceability in food production chain by utilization of RFID technologies, (2) analysis of comparative and cumulative macroeconomic impact and (3) knowledge management research and development of knowledge transfer process as the support for building of knowledge based economy are also involved in the project covering equally all three focused food production areas. Planned research will result also in fundamental knowledge upgrading directed to histological and pathological characterization of in vivo realized effects of developed functional supplements and food products. 

The project will be managed by the team of project managers trained according to the PMI methodology which will take care of integration and achievement of project objectives, timing, quality and dissemination of the results and communication among the participant and with the stakeholders.


Key words

Postharvest technologies, functional food, agriculture diversification, traceability, economic development, knowledge management

Project description

The project CREATING WEALTH FROM THE WEALTH OF SERBIA is a multidisciplinary project aimed to the sustainable development of new and utilization of traditional food products competitive ay national and global market, designed in a way which enables optimal utilization of agricultural resources with simultaneous reviewing and re planning of activities according to results of the systematic market research concerning consumes’ demands and needs and the potentials to transfer developed solutions to entrepreneurs.

The project integrates research from fundamental sciences, technology, techniques, economy and management in frames of seven subprojects which are recognizable as separate units of the projects, but which are at the same time interactively related.

Four subprojects are directed to technological, organizational and marketing development of novel solutions in three key areas in food production:

(I)                 Warehousing and standardization of agricultural products and optimization of postharvest treatments;

(II)               Development of widely consumed food products with increased functional properties;

(III)             Development of beverages with  increased functional properties;

(IV)             Research, standardization, protection and optimization of utilization of potentials and tradition of rural regions.

Remaining three subprojects that support and valorize the results of above mentioned subprojects:

(V)               Application of RFID technologies as a tool for improvement of traceability, safety and declaration of food products;

(VI)             Comparative and cumulative research of macroeconomic constraints and impacts;

(VII)           Development of knowledge based economy through research and optimization of knowledge management in agriculture and food production.

The subprojects will be coordinated by competitive researchers among which three are perspective young researchers aged fewer than 40.  Investigation embraced in this project will be based on carefully and systematically planned experimental and field research realized by multidisciplinary teams. Investigation comprised in the subprojects will be mainly directed to:

Subproject (I):

(1)    Analysis and decrease of risk in critical points in postharvest  treatment of the most significant agricultural products including cereals, fruit and vegetables and industrial plants through the monitoring, risk analysis and optimization of control, warehousing and marketing of mentioned agricultural products;

(2)    Receiving and optimization of logistic processes in chain of agricultural products’ production, collecting, warehousing and marketing in warehouses for grains and fruit, vegetables, forest  and medicinal plants and mushrooms;

(3)    Characterization and defining of end purpose quality of selected widely spread and potentially applicable varieties from the aspects of marketing at wide markets and utilization as raw material for novel products with added value;

(4)    Development of postharvest technologies of warehousing, classification and primary processing of the most significant agricultural products with the development of suitable rapid methods for quality and safety control.

Subprojects (II) and (III):

(1)    Determination and systematization of data about functional properties of agricultural products and byproducts (fruit, vegetables, medicinal plants, medicinal fungi, processing byproducts) based on and linked to results of subproject (I);

(2)    Optimization and modeling of functional constituents extracts and their analytical characterization;

(3)    Confirmation of functional properties of the extracts through in vivo and in vitro experiments;

(4)    Development of novel food products/beverages with addition of raw materials and/or extracts with functional properties;

(5)    Accession of acceptability of the products through  consumers tests;

(6)    Research of the consumers attitudes and market concerning food/beverages with functional properties;

(7)    Research of the market of potential producers of food/beverages with functional properties.

Subproject (IV):

(1)    Identification, systematization and characterization of potentials and tradition of rural regions including food and non food traditional and regionally characteristically products, heritage, natural beauties and touristic offer;

(2)    Research of possibilities of placement of rural areas products and regional traditional products through direct marketing and export;

(3)    Profiling, standardization and proposal of possibilities for protection of regionally characteristically and traditional food and non food products.

Subproject (V) will be directed to the development of possibilities of application of RFID technology for (1) traceability assurance for good stored in agricultural products warehouses and (2) traceability assurance and authenticity proving for protected traditional and regionally characteristically products.

Subproject (VI) will be directed to (1) the research of constraints and potentials of macroeconomic environment from the aspects of each development area focused in this project and (2) research of impact of different economic development scenarios in food production on macroeconomic indicators comparatively among focused development areas and cumulatively for all focused development directions in food production.

Subproject (VII) foresees research of characteristics of knowledge management process in academic and other knowledge centers in the field of agriculture and food and their optimization from the aspect of knowledge transfer and from the aspect of protection and exploitation of intellectual property.

For the needs of realization of the project the available infrastructure potentials of involved research institutions will be utilized in the domain of physical, chemical, sensory testing, in vivo biological experiments, optimization of traditional technological processes and economy related research.  Research directed to development of novel technologies will partly be realized in existing pilot plants which enable research directed to improvement of existing already widely utilized technologies. For the purpose of novel technologies development the purchase of highly sophisticated pilot plants needed for technologies development, missing units needed for characterization of the products and acquiring of data is planned as follows:

(a)    Equipment needed for development of technology of production of extracts of valuable constituents from agricultural products and by products (pilot plants for liofilisation, ultra deep freezing, concentration of plant material and supercritical extraction) and equipment needed for histological characterization of tissues of in vivo treated experimental animals used for testing of effects of produced extracts (confocal microscope)

(b)   Equipment needed for development of production of micro- and nanoencapsulates with optimized sorption mechanisms of biologically valuable materials (pilot plants for high pressure homogenization, micro- and nanoecapsulation and dispersion characterization of obtained particles)

(c)    Equipment for optimization of production of widely consumed food products obtained by hydrothermal treatment (twin screw extruder) and research NIRS instrument for development of novel possibilities of NIRS application for rapid characterization of food with functional properties.

(d)   Equipment for development of modern postharvest technologies (pilot cooling chamber with possibility of atmosphere modification)

(e)   Equipment for development of fungi cultivation technology and equipment for registering of fermentation dynamics and influence of different biological materials on fermentation and quality of final product (chamber for cultivation of fungi and Scan ++ automatic analyzer)

(f)     Equipment for automatic recording of transfer of data collected in field investigation of technological processes (PDA equipment with integrated GPRS, RFID module, acquisition module, machine vision system and Bluetooth converter)

Beside above listed capital equipment for the purpose of project realization the purchase of some measuring equipment units, missing parts for capital equipment, IT equipment and licensed specific software are fore seen.

Available knowledge of national experts engaged in this project are in key area (functional food constituents, micro/ and nanotechnology, RFID technology and management) is upgraded through establishment of cooperation with experts from abroad who expressed their willingness to contribute to the realization of this project with their engagement and to support development of cooperation with similar teams in countries in which they live and work (USA, EU, China and Israel). Foreign experts engaged in this project are:

(1)    Dr Diego Ángel Moreno Fernández, C.E.B.A.S. -C.S.I.C. Food Science and Technology Department

(2)    Dr Prof. Shlomo Magdassi, Casali Institute of Applied Chemistry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

(3)    Dr Živko Nikolov, Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology, Texas A&M University

(4)    Vukica Jovanović, PhD student, Purdue University, Mechanical Engineering Technology

(5)    Nikola Zivlak, PhD student, Donghua Univerzitet, Shangai, China

The project embraces multidisciplinary team of hundred researchers from 13 institutions from range of different research areas. Efficient and effective management of such a complex project will be supported by the team of five researchers including project coordinator, trained for professional project management according to PMI methodology. Beside the development of complex, in time and regions distributed and interrelated work breakdown structure for each research year, management of project activities will include initiation of the project, organization and monitoring of realization of planned activities, with developed communication scheme among project participants and towards potential users of obtained results and other stakeholders. Throughout the realization of the project the level and direction of realization of defined objectives will be followed, and the timing and quality of explicit and generic results will be reviewed.

The tasks of management team will include also the management of equipment, material and services purchase and contracting as well as following of the engagement of equipment and human resources.  Throughout the duration of the project permanent activities directed to integration of diversified project activities and their implementation and integration with actual trends of techno-economic development will be undertaken.

Total value of the project for four years of its realization is estimate to approximately 3 million €, out of which about 2 million is designed for covering of costs of engagement of researchers (approximately 60%), direct material costs of the research (approximately 25%) and overhead of involved research institutions (approximately 15%), whereas about 1 million is dedicated for purchase of highly sophisticated equipment which will enable more successful realization of the project at the level of global standards of high quality research. It has to be emphasized that the value of the existing equipment which will be utilized for the realization of the project is several times over the value of proposed new equipment and that it enables realization of the project but with lower inspected goals. The realistic costs for the project realization were calculated for the first research year and for each next year they were increased by 10%.



Key results

The project CREATING WEALTH FROM THE WEALTH OF SERBIA will beside the explicit results concerning publications, presentations, technical solutions, patents listed in project activities plan; result in a number of results which will generically influence on technological and economic development in food production in Serbia, but also in the whole region.

Investigations will before all result in forming of a number of data bases which at the time represent  missing base for making of strategic and operative decisions in managing both, the whole agriculture and food production sector and enterprises in this sector concerning investment, purchase, development, production, marketing and sales.  Data bases that will be created on the bases of planned research are:

(a)    Data bases concerning (1) quality, (2) safety and (3) functional properties of agricultural products;

(b)   Data bases needed for improvement of knowledge transfer processes including data bases concerning (1) available knowledge and skills, as well as available technological solutions and products (2) potential knowledge providers and (3) potential knowledge users;

(c)    Data bases concerning (1) segmentation of consumers markets in the region and (2) consumers attitudes and habits.

Throughout the project realization the conditions for establishment of institutional frames which enable generic support to food production in the region will be worked out. Depending on the results and evaluated possibilities and needs the project might result in establishment or in support to establishment of:

(a)    Multidisciplinary center for knowledge and technology transfer in agro food sector;

(b)   Center for sensory analysis with established lists of assessors;

(c)    Center for consumer research;

(d)   Center for marketing of agro food products of the region.

Beside the placement of the results to national and international scientific core through publishing and presentation of results the activities for improvement of wider visibility of the project are foreseen. The visibility of the project activities will be assured through (1) establishment of web presentation of the project (2) organization of interdisciplinary meetings directed to potential users of the results with at least three meeting dealing with:

(a)    Management, economy and marketing in food production;

(b)   Role of science and research in technological and economic development in agro food sector;

(c)    Food and beverages with functional properties and their role in improvement of health of the population.

Results will also be visible through their (3) publishing in thematic anthologies and development of working documents covering selected issues and (4) organization of press conferences and distribution of the information concerning key achievements of the project in certain phases of its realization.

Planned activities of organization of meetings, interactive web presentation updating and public relations management will contribute not only to the visibility of the project but also as a tool for utilization of obtained results as sort of educational tool for increasing of capacity of food production enterprises to utilize the potentials of foreign direct investments, pre accession funds, subsidies and projects provided by relevant Ministries and own funds.

The project will result in development of a number of products, technologies, processes and procedures. Their protection as intellectual property through scientifically based activities planned in the project, will result in obtaining of the preconditions for improvement of financing of research activities through the exploitation of developed intellectual rights paving the way for this source of financing of research also for the inventions obtained out of this project.

Finally, large number of young, highly dedicated researchers involved in the project will stream their first research steps working out their PhD thesis around the research topics towards which the project is directed, indicating at least PhD thesis which will founded in this project.

Impact of project research

Based on available natural resources which enable the possibility for production of wide range of agricultural products of highest quality, in low contaminated environment, in quantities which surpass the basic needs of the population, for Serbia the production of competitive food products with potentials to be marketed on wider markets represents one of the imperatives of technological and economic development. Unfortunately the utilization of existing potentials is at the time far from the possible and significant quantities of agro food products due to noncompetitive properties are being sold under realistic prices resulting in further decrease of production volumes and capacities utilization rate.

Such situation implicitly generates also some of the most important characteristics of macroeconomic environment in Serbia – high unemployment rate, low yields of agricultural products, low added value in food production, and low rate of utilization of installed capacities. Due to that, separate efforts to support development through research, development projects and investments can have only very limited effects on economic development. Exactly for this reason the project CREATING WEALTH FROM THE WEALTH OF SERBIA gathered complete interdisciplinary team of researchers that will through integrated research directed to focused development areas with high economic and technological development potential during four years work analysis, characterization, optimization, development and implementation  of solutions in different  links of value chain bearing in mind permanently the interactions and inter conditionality of proposed solutions.

Starting point for defining of the research focus was the choice of the areas in food production in which the potential for significant improvements are seen.  After that the teams of researchers possessing knowledge and skills which enable their facing to fighting with the development challenges in focused areas. The fundamental objective placed in front of research teams was to create in each of focused development areas technological, technical, organizational, marketing preconditions to increase competitiveness of the products at both national and international market.  In each of three focused research and development areas, research activities are directed on characteristically mechanisms of competitiveness of the area:

(a)    For the area of warehousing and standardization of agricultural products and optimization of postharvest treatment (subproject I) mechanism of increased competitiveness is based above all in creating of preconditions for production of cost based completive products through the optimization of logistic processes with simultaneous increase of quality, safety and grade of postharvest finalization but also through utilization of byproducts and their processing into added value products;

(b)   For the area of development of food and beverage products of wide consumption with functional properties (subprojects II and III) mechanism of increasing of competitiveness is based in obtaining of products which higher added value for the consumer resulting in readiness of the consumer to pay higher price for the product. Special characteristic of research in this area is that they are oriented to the products with wide consumption, above all to health safe snack food products and other cereal based products placed in the base of nutrition pyramid and in the widest base of consumers eating habits, and beverages dedicated to widest range of consumers like bear, refreshing nonalcoholic beverages, juices, vines and spirits. Second important characteristic of the planned research in this area is that all technological developments are conditioned by previous market analysis including consumers (B2C market) but also the potential producers and users of developed technologies (B2B market). The third important characteristic of the research in this area is that the research is not finished in the frame of technology development but the research directed to the fundamental confirmation of functionality through in vivo biological experiments and through testing of acceptability for the consumers at the market through consumers’ tests is planned.

(c)    For the area of investigation. Standardization, protection and optimization of utilization of potentials and traditional of rural regions (subproject IV) mechanisms of competitiveness achievement are seen on one hand in processes of protection of geographic indication of the products which will result in restriction of supply quantities and create the possibility for increase of market value of the products through the modification of relation of supply and demand. On the other hand the integration of offer of traditional and regionally characteristically food and non food products with touristic offer, natural attractions and cultural heritage in selected region will create marketable conglomerate based on integrated, for marketing not sufficiently recognizable separate products and services.

Beside the production of competitive products for the selected markets, the other precondition that has to be fulfilled by the agro food products in order to be recognized at the markets of developed countries is the achievement of complete traceability in relation to all inputs for every unit or lot of products. In areas focused in this project traceability is one of inappropriately solved problems on which the activates planned in  subproject V are oriented with the objective to enable guaranty of the quality and origin through traceability enabling with the most modern RFID (radio frequency identification) technologies.

Significant constraint for the transfer of up to now developed numerous technologies and technological solutions represent the absence of belief of potential users that the introduction of developed solutions will result in economic impacts for the user’s enterprise. For that reason the activities of scientifically based analysis of economic impact on macroeconomic level and on the level of the enterprise itself, planned in subproject VI, are the prerequisite for fact based approach to the transfer of both technical and technological and organizational and marketing solutions.

Another leading  idea, beside the fact based creation of interest of potential users,  is to support the process of protection of intellectual properly and to initiate at the time almost inexistent process of exploitation of intellectual property rights, through integrated legal, organizational and marketing activities planned in subproject VII, which will lead to improvement of financial status of researchers  and research institutions through the exploitation of intellectual property which was the result of the past research activities. Striving to the future benefits of exploitation of protected intellectual property, the participation of potential users which will result in the rights on created intellectual property was not planned.

Finally, the project foresees the complex research directed to the defining of the reasons for evident existence of the research/practice gap and proposing of the solutions which will bring research closer to the needs of the economy through realistic setting of the knowledge management process and development of necessary institutional frames. Special significance of this segment of research is that they will not only be applicable for the solutions developed in this project but also to all available and applicable knowledge in agro food sector but also in the other areas.

The realization of the project CREATING WEALTH FORM THE WEALTH OF SERBIA will be followed by permanent activities of dissemination of obtained knowledge and achieved results through the project web presentation and through the organization of the meeting directed to the potential users of the results and all other stakeholders.

Additionally it has to be emphasized that all three focused development areas for agro food sector are deeply included in the National strategy of economic development of Serbia for the period 2006-2012 which was adopted by the Government of Republic of Serbia in November 2006. Based on this fact it can be expected that the implementation of obtained results will be facilitated through possibilities of utilization of pre accession funds, subsidies of relevant ministries, project funded by other stakeholders beside the own resources of the potential users. The project will to the great extent contribute to the increase of the capacity of potential users to absorb mentioned funds.


Connection between basic, applied and developmental research

The project CREATING WEALTH FROM THE WEALTH OF SERBIA is conceived as the balanced combination of applied technical and technological research with economic and management research with stronghold in upgrading of necessary fundamental knowledge. The subprojects are conceived in the way which embraces technical and technological research and economy and management related research and enables their interaction in a way which was very rarely applied in the national research practice.

The first aspect of connecting of research from technical sciences, economy, humanities and fundamental research is assured through parallel research of supply, technology, organization and marketing research aspect of development for all focused areas in first four subprojects. In subproject (I) with the aim of optimization of postharvest treatment the investigation of agricultural products base, development of postharvest technologies and optimization of logistic processes, all being focused as critical in this area, are integrated and interrelated. In subprojects (II) and (III) with the aim of the useful development of the products for which added value is obtained with increased functional properties, the investigation of availability and functionality of agricultural raw materials, development of technologies of production of functional supplement and food/beverage products, their confirmation through in vivo biological experiments, with conditioning of exact research direction by the results of market analysis results for both, consumers of the products and potential users of developed technologies. Subproject (IV) integrates technological, analytical, tourism and cultural investigations of potentials of rural regions followed by the research directed on technical and legal aspects of protection of indicated potentials and research directed to marketing possibilities for their utilization.

Research in all three focused areas with identified potentials for technological and economic development in food production (postharvest treatment, products with functional properties and potentials and tradition of rural regions) is upgraded with research which provides macroeconomic, managerial and technical frame needed for successful application of developed solutions including:

(a)    Technical solutions of application of RFID technologies for assurance of traceability as the precondition for quality and safety management of agricultural products, guaranty of properties of functional products and protection of origin for products with geographic indications.

(b)   Macroeconomic analysis of constraints and impacts comparatively for focused development areas and cumulatively,

(c)    Legal, economic and organizational aspects of existing and created knowledge management.

The research is planned in a way which enables dependence of technological research on both – agricultural products row material base building the link to the research in agriculture, and conditions at the consumers and businesses market building the link to the research in the humanities. Beside that the confirmation of the values of technological solutions is founded in the in vivo expressed results in biological experiments with histological and pathological confirmation of the results, building the link to the basic achievements in natural and medical sciences.

It is extremely important that the research, unlike most of researches conducted until now, integrate the research connected to all key points along the whole chain of production of focused groups of products needed for successful future implementation of obtained solution in practice. Starting from selection and purchase of raw materials, over their control, technological processes, characterization of the products, packaging, declaration, consumer tests, market analysis, marketing research and economic effects planned research integrates agricultural, technical, technological, economic, managerial and basic research in meaningful sequence of research activities directed to clearly defined objectives and goals of economic development in area of food production.

In the team of researchers involved in the project CREATING WEALTH FROM THE WEALTH OF SERBIA the most numerous are the researchers from the field of technological and technical research areas with equal representation of researchers who are oriented to technological processes development, researchers oriented to analytical characterization of food and researchers oriented to managerial and economic aspects of food production. The team includes significant number of economists with expertise in all areas needed for successful competition of all planned economic aspects of research. In the fundamental research areas the team involves experts from the field of biology and medicine capable for conduction of in vivo biological experiment and researchers with expertise in mathematical modeling of technological processes.