Innovation and R&D in Food & Beverage
Capturing new scientific and business opportunities relies increasingly on the effective deployment of advanced digital technologies. In 2022, we continued to step up our investments in the digital transformation of our science and innovation capabilities, accelerating our digital journey with a clear focus on FAIR data management – the management of data in accordance with the principles of findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability. This approach ensures that the data generated from our R&D activities is easily accessible and can be shared across different teams and departments.
In 2022, we embarked on a joint research program entitled 'AI for Biosciences’ (‘AI4b.io’) with Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). AI4b.io aims at long-term innovation in AI with the aim of accelerating the development of bio-based products and optimizing bio-based production technologies. This involves exploring and implementing advanced AI technologies including full factory scheduling (the production management process whereby raw materials, intermediates and production capacity are efficiently allocated to meet demand); digital twin (virtual modelling) operations; autonomous laboratories, known as self-driving labs, for the development of microbial strains for natural products; and advanced microbiome research for the application of supplements to support human and animal health.
We built on the breakthrough creation of AlphaFold, a cutting-edge AI technology launched by DeepMind in 2022 that can predict the 3-D structure of every known protein. This capacity is crucial for understanding the mechanisms of human health and nutrition. The application of AlphaFold is enhancing our understanding of our own enzyme products and informing the development of innovative product formulations, facilitating the creation of new microbial strains, and permitting new processes that are both faster and more sustainable.
We launched Delvo®ONE, our first portfolio of all-in-one cultures for fermented milk, created through the use of our pioneering AI Culture Co-Creation Platform. Delvo®ONE’s full-service portfolio comprises five cultures offering taste, texture and health benefits, all with built in bioprotection. Combining our industry-leading expertise with machine learning, the new platform enables us to collaborate with yogurt manufacturers on the development of unique solutions that deliver on multiple product targets at the same time.
We announced a multi-year license and collaboration agreement with LabTwin GmbH, creators of the leading voice-powered digital lab assistant technology of the same name. LabTwin is designed to enable real-time data capture and will be applied in several of our Science & Innovation laboratories around the world. Introduced to speed up innovation cycles both for ourselves and for our customers, LabTwin offers a ‘Siri’-like experience in the lab, with many options for further advancing our lab operations – from guiding our scientists through laboratory protocols to interacting with labware and storing data and observations in a smart, hands-free way.
In 2022, we also successfully initiated a Translational Sciences program, bridging real-world evidence (RWE) and laboratory research on multiple fronts to include the use of natural language processing (NLP). NLP algorithms can understand and analyze large volumes of unstructured data, such as scientific papers and research reports. These algorithms can help our researchers identify trends and patterns that would otherwise be difficult to discern. We are now leveraging natural language processing to extract insights from unstructured text data and to develop personalized nutrition recommendations using recipe builders and other tools.