The University of Hannover's Competence Centre for Functional Foods, which launched last September, provides support to small and medium-sized enterprises seeking to develop new product lines in the functional food sector. (Site currently only available in German.)

Speaking of Germany, functional food in general seems to be a new topic in that country, but a nice student Web site with plenty of links to German and English sites (albeit with descriptions in German) is at http://www.stud.uni-hannover.de/~hstueck/funcfood/inhalt/link01.htm.

Meanwhile, given that functional foods are such big news in Scandinavia (see the main Industry Insider article) it's no surprise to discover the Swedish Center of Excellence and Innovation in Functional Foods. The center runs a national research programme and its Web site offers links to research organisations across Sweden that are involved in the field. One of those research organisations is the multifaculty Functional Food Science Centre at Lund University.

European Masters Degree in Food Studies

Want to work in the food industry? With its 6-month industry research project and multinational character, the European Masters Degree in Food Studies aims to "develop the personal, cultural, and technical skills required for success in an international business environment." During the 18-month course students spend 2 months at a time at universities in the Netherlands, Ireland, the UK, France, and Sweden. Only 1 week of the course is devoted to functional foods, but a taste of the programme given in the diary of the students of the programme's 4th edition shows that, if nothing else, this is likely to be a fun experience!

Functional Food Development is also one of the main research strands at the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE). The NICHE is a Marie Curie training site, and it carries out research related to a number of EU projects and on behalf of industry.

The Dutch research organisation TNO has an arm that carries out food and nutrition research. For example, its 'target nutrients' project is aimed at developing methods and study protocols that can be used by industry to substantiate specific structure/function claims of the positive effects of nutrients and nutraceuticals on cognitive and mental function and dermal condition.

TEKES, Finland's National Technology Agency, is in the third year of its 4-year Innovation in Foods programme. The programme funds functional food research at Finnish universities and in collaboration with industry and international partners.

The European organisation that represents companies that make foods with particular nutritional uses is the Association of Dietetic Food Industries in the EU. That means fare such as infant formulas, foods for hospital patients and people with medical conditions who require a special diet, as well as foods for particular groups such as athletes, overweight people, the elderly, and pregnant women.