Access to research and cross-border cooperation key motivators for small companies to join projects

20 Dec 2016

The InnoFruit Project (Advancement of non-technological innovation performance and innovation capacity in the fruit growing and processing sectors in selected Baltic Sea countries) recently kicked-off in Dobele, Latvia. One of the project partners, Berry Plus Ltd, represented by its marketing manager Ms Ilze Sauškina, was interviewed about the company’s motivation to join an Interreg Baltic Sea Region Project.

“The project is interesting to us because of the multiple partners from several different countries in the Baltic Sea Region that are also taking part. We hope that by working together with other project partners we can develop new products with high added value as well as new technology for juice manufacturers.” Says Ms Sauškina and adds: “The owner of Berry Plus Ltd is personally interested in all the innovative technologies, processes and equipment necessary for juice production and he strives to offer his customers the best possible service based on the outcome of the project.”

The InnoFruit Project aims at developing the fruit growing potential in the Baltic Sea Region to secure the availability of healthy, high quality fruit and fruit products through research driven innovations, thereby increasing the competitiveness and sustainability of the fruit chain in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Sweden. The fruit sector is one of the subsectors of the bioeconomy cluster including the fruit growing and processing sectors, which have a high economic growth potential. The competitiveness in the fruit sector is highly dependent on the innovation capacity of all actors (innovation intermediaries, authorities, research institutions, and SMEs), therefore, cooperation in this sector is essential.

Berry Plus is a company that is producing equipment for companies that work with berry growing and processing, offer consultations and offer equipment service. It is a new company and until now has been working with one of Latvians largest berry growers and natural juice producers – SIA Very Berry and Laflora. Lately the company has received requests for juice pasteurization and bottle filling services, and the specific aim for the company to participate in the InnoFruit project is to be able to, together with researchers, develop a new line of products and offer the newly gained experience and test environment to other juice producers.

Berry Plus takes an active part in the project by joining in new product development focusing on clear juice products for children. Ms Sauškina explains: “The new product will be a 100% pure juice for children. In the local market there are currently only imported products available and most of them are with added sugar, which is not appealing to young mothers, who are one of our most important target groups. Together with researchers we will develop new recipes with no sugar added to the fruit juice. The idea is that the juices are naturally sweet and each of them (in total five different juices) has its own health benefit. Ideally, the ready products will be offered to a producer with all the technical details to produce the juice and the goal is to have the juices available in the local market, as well as in other countries, already next year.”

Berry Plus believes that by cooperating in an Interreg Baltic Sea Region Project it gets access to research competence and structures. As a small company it cannot afford the necessary equipment or consultations and testing on its own, so the project provides an opportunity to realise plans by offering the newly acquired knowledge and new products to other local and foreign partners.

Ms Sauškina adds: “This project is very interesting for Berry Plus because of its participants. We have already worked together with some of them, but this project gives us another chance to work together with the Institute of Horticulture, Research of Institute of Horticulture, Latvian Fruit Growers Association as well as with the Faculty of Agriculture.”

She ends by saying: “ Of course, we are also hoping that we will develop a lasting relationship with Lithuanian, Swedish and Polish partners.”

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