ULiège strongly involved in the Walloon FOODWal project

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Contributing to a better food sovereignty by giving a new life to food co-products, boosting human and animal health with new functional foods, developing new food production chains in Walloon companies.... The Walloon strategy of specialisation in the agri-food sector is becoming clearer. The skills of ULiège are strongly solicited through the three FOODWal projects.


n the framework of the Win4Excellence call, the FOODWal project was selected by the Walloon Government. This portfolio of three innovative projects, financed to 13 million euros, aims to develop functional ingredients and foods in Wallonia that can be transposed into agri-food companies. 18 PhD researchers and 3 post-doctoral researchers will be hired for the entire portfolio for a period of 4 years.

This portfolio of three innovative projects aims to develop functional ingredients and foods in Wallonia that can be transposed into agri-food companies. These projects are part of the Strategic Innovation Domain (DIS-5) through the Strategic Innovation Initiatives (IIS) FoodBooster and PROTEWIN, following the definition of the Intelligent Specialisation Strategy (S3) in Wallonia, a strategy promoted by the European Commission.

ULiège is thus strongly involved in the three FOODWal projects: PROTEBoost, MICROBoost and PEPTIBoost. It coordinates the latter.


PEPTIBoost is coordinated by Prof. Gauthier Eppe, director of the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory (MSLab) of the UR MOLSYS at ULiège, and Nathalie Gillard of the CER Groupe, Marloie. Prof. André Matagne (UR InBioS, Faculty of Science) and Prof. Frank Delvigne (Microbial technologies, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech) are partners in the project.

The objective is to develop value-added chains for food co-products (e.g. brewery, lactoserum, colostrum, etc.) by transforming them into high added value molecules that can be used in functional food production chains, such as probiotics or prebiotics. These bioactive peptides formulated in the form of protein hydrolysates are known for their interest in human or animal health (hypotensive or immunomodulatory effects, fight against diabetes, etc.). Nevertheless, there are still unknowns about the conditions of production on an industrial scale and the real effects on health and in particular the precise action on the intestinal microbiota.

PEPTIBoost will therefore focus on certain bioactive peptides present in natural food matrices or co-products and study how, by means of enzymatic processes, to transpose their production to an industrial scale. The project will also focus on the development of artificial intelligence to predict the physico-chemical characteristics of protein hydrolysates.


The PROTEBoost project aims to implement disruptive technologies for the development of healthy and attractive protein-rich food products from innovative sources of fresh microbial biomass, purple bacteria. The creation of a new, complete and integrated supply chain based on fresh biomass will be achieved by developing new methods of cultivation, stabilisation and processing of the biomass into healthy and appetising food products. Numerical modelling technologies will enable optimisation and control of purple bacteria production and food preparation, and continuous life cycle assessment will ensure the sustainability of the chain.

The Smart Gastronomy Lab (Dr Dorothée Goffin and Prof. Eric Haubruge, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech), by ensuring the development of healthy and appreciated alternatives to animal products via sober and respectful processes, is a key partner in this project coordinated by Prof. Baptiste Leroy of the UMons, in collaboration with the CICN of the UCLouvain, the TIPs laboratory of the ULB, Materia Nova, the Celabor and Multitel


Focusing on the concerns of Walloon companies concerned with microbiotic foodstuffs (prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics and fermented foods), the MICROBoost project aims to facilitate the understanding of the role of microbiota in nutrition (including the digitisation of data) in a form that can be exploited by industries.

Original and environmentally friendly innovations include, for example, the development of "volatolomes" (volatile organic compounds) as new biomarkers of microbiota-food-host interactions, and the development of smart plates for assessing dietary behaviour. Prof. Eric Haubruge, Prof. Jérôme Bindelle, Prof. Marie-Laure Fauconnier and Dr. Dorothée Goffin at Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, and Prof. Moreno Galleni (UR InBioS) at the Faculty of Sciences, are the partners of this project coordinated by UCLouvain.

"These three projects and their partners - universities, accredited research centres, the Walloon competitiveness clusters Wagralim and GreenWin, and companies - form the backbone of a future Walloon institute in the field of agri-food, the IIFRI (International Institute for Food Research and Innovation), based on the model of the TRAIL institute in the field of artificial intelligence," says Prof. Éric Haubruge, Advisor to the Rector on Innovation and Regional Relations at ULiège.

"These innovation projects have the common ambition of recovering a share of food sovereignty by creating, on the basis of research and innovation in laboratories, channels in Wallonia that enhance the value of food co-products for the development of new functional foods such as prebiotics or probiotics," explains Prof. Gauthier Eppe. "It is also a question of offering alternatives to animal proteins because we will no longer be able to feed the entire planet with animal products."


Connected trays at the Smart Gastronomy Lab. Credit: Smart Gastronomy Lab/ULiège

These projects are part of the Strategic Innovation Initiatives (SII), following the definition of the Intelligent Specialisation Strategy (S3) in Wallonia, a strategy promoted by the European Commission. ULiège is also involved in the Space4Relaunch project portfolio: WIN4Relaunch and WIN4Relaunch , the first of which it coordinates.


Pr Gauthier Eppe

ODD 12 : Consommation et production responsables
Établir des modes de consommation et de production durables Le douzième objectif est un appel pour les producteurs, les consommateurs, les communautés et les gouvernements à réfléchir sur leurs habitudes et usages en termes de consommation, de production de déchets, à l’impact environnemental et social de l’ensemble de la chaîne de valeur de nos produits. Plus globalement, cet ODD réclame de comprendre les interconnexions entre les décisions personnelles et collectives, et de percevoir les impacts de nos comportements respectifs entre les pays et à l’échelle mondiale.

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