In recent years, growing attention has been devoted to the commercialisation of knowledge and technologies developed by universities and public research institutions. A central role in this particular process is played by the technology transfer offices (TTOs), which are on the one hand in charge of promoting the transfer of knowledge and technology to external companies, and on the other hand are also responsible for protecting and licensing the intellectual property of the research organisation. This paper is focused on a TTO operating in the food context, with the specific objectives of identifying the performance indicators and the main factors affecting its performance and, finally, analysing the relationships among these factors. Results highlighted the importance of both external and internal factors for the performance of a TTO operating in this context. In addition, we found both direct and indirect relations within these factors.

Innovation in the food industry is increasingly based on the decisions and activities of the company itself but also, and in particular, of the other entities involved in the innovation system. Similar considerations hold for open innovation mechanisms: due to the wide number of players involved in the development of innovative products, innovation activities must be carefully coordinated. As such, the sector should exhibit a significant number of open innovation strategies, whose purpose may range from merely access to external sources of knowledge, to actively taking part in the creation of inter-organizational knowledge and skills. Although there is still limited empirical evidence regarding open innovation strategies in the food industry, some studies are available highlighting how different firms succeeded in overcoming some of the barriers to innovation. In this paper, we review the extant literature on open innovation practices in the food context, and specifically we analyse three main models recently proposed. Finally, we draw implications for food companies and highlight some future trends for the open innovation adoption.

The food industry is one of the most important branches of the national economy in Italy and in the European Union in general, playing a central role for the processing of agricultural raw materials and food supply. This industry is traditionally regarded as a sector with low research intensity; notwithstanding, innovations are recognized as an important instrument for companies belonging to the food industry in order to stand out from competitors and to satisfy consumer expectations. In this regard, functional foods play an outstanding role, as demonstrated by their increasing demand derived from the increasing cost of healthcare, the steady increase of life expectancy, and the desire of older people for improved quality of their later years. The main target of this paper is to analyze the state of the art on functional foods. For this purpose, a review of extant literature is presented. Specific emphasis is laid on the definition and the main examples of functional food. The paper concludes with comments on future trends.

Premi e riconoscimenti

Highly Cited Research in Trends in Food Science & Technology, awarded in recognition of the contribution to the quality of the journal made by "Innovation trends in the food industry: the case of functional foods" (paper published in 2013, and cited in 2014/2015 according to data from Scopus)

Barbara Bigliardi

Ordinario di diritto, Università degli Studi di Parma, Ingegneria Industriale


Socio dal 2004