Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) and Wageningen University of the Netherlands have established a joint Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme in food science and technology. This will help to meet rising demand in Singapore for highly qualified talent in this area, such as product development specialists, food microbiologists and food safety specialists.
NTU Provost Professor Freddy Boey said the food industry is expected to be a new engine of growth in Singapore and the new collaboration will help boost the country's efforts to become a leading hub in food science and technology in the Asia-Pacific region.
Wageningen is one of the leading universities in the world in food science and technology. The Netherlands is the world's second largest exporter of agricultural products after the United States, and one of the world's three leading producers of vegetables and fruit.
The joint PhD programme with NTU is Wageningen's first such collaboration outside Europe and builds on the two universities' earlier partnership to offer a second major in Food Science and Technology in 2014 for NTU undergraduates majoring in Biological Sciences, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Chemistry and Biological Chemistry.
The PhD programme focuses on key areas like the conversion of agricultural raw materials into high-value food ingredients; sustainable food production including conversion of waste to food supplements; and health effects of food products. With the rising trend of food-borne diseases around the world – the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore estimated 1.5 billion cases globally each year – PhD candidates will also be trained to deal with critical issues in food processing, security and safety.
"The partnership between NTU and Wageningen University aims to bring together our interdisciplinary expertise in areas such as nanotechnology, biomedicine and food science to nurture the much needed skilled manpower for the food industry. It will also develop innovative solutions in emerging areas such as in high value food processing and sustainable food production to bolster Singapore's vision of being a leading hub in food science and technology," said Prof Boey.
Professor William Chen, Director of the Food Science and Technology Programme at NTU said, "This is particularly timely and relevant as we are seeing increased attention on food security in general and reduction in food wastage in particular. We do not want local expertise to remain at the technical level, but we want to tap on the multi-national companies' know-how and translate that to the local food industry."
Professor Arthur Mol, Rector Magnificus of Wageningen University, said: "Singapore is a main economic centre in South-east Asia, and NTU is an open and a growing scientific cosmopolitan community with more than 100 nationalities comparable with Wageningen University on the European continent. The existing collaboration on the Bachelor level and the planned development of a joint Master programme, is now extended to a joint PhD programme that combines the best of both universities."
Professor Remko Boom, Chair of Wageningen University's Food Process Engineering Group, said, "With Asia emerging as a major player in the global food industry, NTU can be Wageningen University's link to the continent. It is also important that more graduates in this field come from Asia, since a large part of the world population is Asian. As we have different areas of expertise, NTU and Wageningen University are complementary. By joining up, we can improve both."
Enhancing research behind food
The programme is also expected to enhance related ongoing research projects at the two universities, including novel technologies for sustainable food production and processing. So far, five candidates from NTU and three from Wageningen University have come onboard. One of them is researching sustainable ways to produce isoflavones, compounds found in plants that have potential to reduce tumours in therapies, for example. The other is working on food membrane technology, an effective method in food processing that is not widely used currently due to "membrane fouling" where deposits choke up the membranes' minute pores.
The NTU PhD students will spend six months to a year in the Netherlands to complete modules at Wageningen University, and vice versa for Wageningen University doctoral students at NTU.
Besides being supervised by top faculty from both universities, they can also broaden their learning by pursuing courses at NTU that are outside the programme, including business, arts and social sciences.
For NTU, Singapore
Tan Yo-Hinn (Mr)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
T: +65 6790 4889
For Wageningen University, Netherlands
Jac Niessen (Mr)
Science Information Officer
Corporate Communications & Marketing
Wageningen University & Research Centre
T: +31317 485003
About Nanyang Technological University
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU Singapore is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
Ranked 13th in the world, NTU Singapore has also been ranked the world's top young university for the last two years running. The University's main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.
For more information, visit http://www.ntu.edu.sg
About Wageningen University
Wageningen University is part of Wageningen UR (University & Research centre). The mission is 'To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life'. Within Wageningen UR, nine research institutes both specialised and applied have joined forces with Wageningen University to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.
With approximately 30 locations (in the Netherlands, Brazil, Chile, Ethiopia and China), 6,000 members of staff and 10,000 students, Wageningen UR is one of the leading organisations in its domains worldwide. The integral approach to problems and the cooperation between the exact sciences and the technological and social disciplines are at the heart of the Wageningen Approach.
For more information, visit http://www.WageningenUniversity.nl
Tan Yo-Hinn (Mr)