Cooperation between KTU and KG Group: only working hand in hand can science and business have each other’s needs heard

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The interaction between science, business and studies is indispensable for innovation in the modern food industry and for addressing the challenges of a competitive environment, consumer needs and product safety. But just working together, business and academics can understand each other’s needs and create cost-effective, market-tailored solutions.
In early September, a meeting organized by scientists at the KTU Food Science and Technology Department and the National Innovations and Entrepreneurship Centre (NIEC) was held to discuss the issues of close co-operation between the scientists of the KTU Food Institute, Faculty of Chemical Technology, Prof. K. Baršauskas Ultrasound Research Institute and leaders and experts of KG Group companies such as Kauno Grūdai, Kaišiadorių Paukštynas and Vilniaus Paukštynas.

Complex solutions for challenges

During the meeting, further possibilities for cooperation between the KG Group and the university were discussed, focusing on the production of innovative, health-friendly products.

“The current business faces complex challenges, therefore, narrow solutions are not enough nowadays,” says Alvija Šalaševičienė, director of the Food Institute of Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), emphasizing that importance of the holistic approach, involving multiple sciences.

According to her, the discussion covered various aspects of activities and current pressing issues: from the confirmation of the quality of food raw materials, the integrity of the food safety management systems to the sustainable processing technologies for raw materials, such as the application of ultrasound or cold plasma, in particular interacting with smart packaging technologies, and measuring the distinctiveness and/or added value of a food product on the basis of personalized nutrition criteria.

According to Prof. Romas Gružauskas, at the KTU Food Institute, who moderated the discussion, the consumption and production of poultry meat in Lithuania has been increasing in recent years, and special attention has been paid to this area. “Production growth is ensured by the use of combinations of new, rapidly growing poultry lines offering efficient feed conversion,” he notes.
R. Gružauskas says that to tackle the issue the scientists at the KTU Food Institute have been conducting qualitative and quantitative research of the bird protein set and new methods of testing the poultry quality were adopted, mirroring the global scientific concept “Healthy intestine – quality production”.

According to the professor, other KTU units – the Research Laboratory for Digital Modelling, Environmental Technologies, Polymer and Technology, Food Science and Technology departments – are also planning to become involved in the development and design methods for poultry quality assessment and preservation of its nutritional value.

“Such an interdisciplinary assessment of poultry quality will ensure the provision of quality services and guidance to businesses. The said conception of poultry meat quality assessment and preservation of its nutritional value mirrors prevailing research trends and good practices” says R. Gružauskas.

Collaboration through several decades

“At the KTU Institute of Food and Technology, we see exceptional expertise, advanced laboratory equipment, providing unique opportunities for developing new products and addressing other pressing issues. On the other hand, we set clear economic goals for ourselves, we strive for maximum efficiency, therefore we carefully evaluate the implementation of each project. We choose only the projects generating the highest value for the company and its customers. Scientific research institutions have a lot less constraints, so they can freely implement their creative ideas. Working together, we get a better understanding of each other’s capabilities and limitations, which I believe is the most important outcome of this cooperation”, says Darius Gudačiauskas, Managing Director of KG Group’s Poultry Business, who participated in the discussion.

KG Group has been cooperating with KTU for more than two decades, but formally the cooperation was established in 2015, with the signing of a cooperation agreement. The agreement sought to promote cooperation between science and business in the development of innovative human health-friendly products, as well as active cooperation in raising the qualifications of staff and training new experts.

Every year, about 100 students from different Lithuanian higher education institutions have their work placement in the KG Group. According to the head of the Group, more than a third of them stay to work in the companies of the Group. Most of them are KTU graduates.

“In our group of companies, we are pleased to offer work placement opportunities to students from various fields. Many of them become our employees. In cooperation with the university, we also offer the opportunity for professional development to our existing employees, and having access to the most advanced KTU laboratories and scientists’ insights, we can create competitive products for the market, create value for the company and its customers“, said Tautvydas Barštys, chairman of KG Group.
 

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