Designing a research infrastructure (RI) on food behaviour and health: Balancing user needs, business model, governance mechanisms and technology

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debateResearchpeer-review

  • L. Timotijevic
  • S. Astley
  • M. J. Bogaardt
  • T. Bucher
  • I. Carr
  • G. Copani
  • J. de la Cueva
  • T. Eftimov
  • P. Finglas
  • S. Hieke
  • C. E. Hodgkins
  • B. Koroušić Seljak
  • N. Klepacz
  • K. Pasch
  • M. Maringer
  • A. Normann
  • K. T. Ofei
  • K. Poppe
  • G. Pourabdollahian
  • M. M. Raats
  • M. Roe
  • C. Sadler
  • T. Selnes
  • H. van der Veen
  • P. van't Veer
  • K. Zimmermann

Background: A better understanding of food-related behaviour and its determinants can be achieved through harmonisation and linking of the various data-sources and knowledge platforms. Scope: We describe the key decision-making in the development of a prototype of the Determinants and Intake Platform (DI Platform), a data platform that aims to harmonise and link data on consumer food behaviour. It will be part of the Food Nutrition Health Research Infrastructure (FNH-RI) that will facilitate health, social and food sciences. Approach: The decision-making was based on the evidence of user needs and data characteristics that guided the specification of the key building blocks of the DI Platform. Eight studies were carried out, including consumer online survey; interview studies of key DI Platform stakeholders; desk research and workshops. Key findings: Consumers were most willing to share data with universities, then industry and government. Trust, risk perception and altruism predicted willingness to share. For most other stakeholders non-proprietary data was most likely to be shared. Lack of data standards, and incentives for sharing were the main barriers for sharing data among the key stakeholders. The value of various data types would hugely increase if linked with other sources. Finding the right balance between optimizing data sharing and minimizing ethical and legal risks was considered a key challenge. Conclusions: The development of DI Platform is based on careful balancing of the user, technical, business, legal and ethical requirements, following the FAIR principles and the need for financial sustainability, technical flexibility, transparency and multi-layered organisational governance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Food Science and Technology
Pages (from-to)405-414
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This commentary aims to provide insight into the complex decision making on the design of DI Platform carried out within the RICHFIELDS project 2 2 (funded by the EU under the “Research Infrastructures” funding stream). It was based on the evidence of user needs and data characteristics assessed in the project that guided the specification of the key building blocks of the DI Platform. It aims to highlight the rationale used for balancing of requirements for designing and implementing such an RI. The final design of the DI Platform is represented in Fig. 1 – the Minimum Viable Offer specifies the services offered. Currently, the discussions are ongoing within the scientific research community to eventually arrive at a future implementation of an effective and sustainable Food Nutrition and Health Research Infrastructure (FNH-RI), which will integrate health, food and social sciences as part of the European Roadmap of research infrastructures. DI Platform would form a part of the FNH-RI via its DATA services that aim to facilitate sharing of the data and resources on consumer food behaviours and their determinants. The data on environmental impact will not form a part of DI Platform, but will be linked through the FNH-RI with other relevant data platforms such as SUSFANS. 4 3 4

Funding Information:
The Consortium partners are: Wageningen Economic Research (NL), the German Institute of Food Technologies (DE), European Food Information Resource AISBL (BE), Jozef Stefan Institute (SI), Wageningen University (NL), University of Surrey (UK), RISE Research Institute of Sweden, Aalborg University (DK), Javier de la Cueva & Asociados (ES), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (CH), European Food Information Council (BE), Quadram Institute Bioscience (UK), Institute of Industrial Technologies and Automation-National Research Council of Italy (IT), Centre for European Nutrition and Health (FR), Aalto University (FI), GS1 Denmark (DK). The Scientific Coordination Team are: Prof. Pieter van't Veer (chair; Wageningen University), Professor Monique Raats (coordinator Phase 1; University of Surrey), Professor Bent Egberg Mikkelsen (coordinator Phase 2; Aalborg University), Mr. Krijn Poppe (coordinator Phase 3; Wageningen Economic Research) and Dr. Paul Finglas (accessory member; Quadram Institute Bioscience). The members of the Project Advisory Board, appointed in June 2016, are: Dr. Inge Tetens (Chair; University of Copenhagen), Dr. Igor Spiroski (IPH Macedonia), Mrs. Anneke van Kollenburg (ENECO), Dr. Harriet Teare (University of Oxford), Mr. Fred van Alphen (IT manager), Mr. Christian Graversen (Welfare Tech) and Dr. Marijntje Bakker (JPI HDHL).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

    Research areas

  • AI, Big data, Data governance, Data platform, Determinants, e-infrastructure, Food consumption, Food intake, Food nutrition, Omics

ID: 281990066