The research conducted within the CONNECT4ACTION project is divided into the following work areas.

1.     Engage stakeholders

The first work area will establish a community of interested stakeholders that actively want to be involved in the project: the online CONNECT4ACTION community. Stakeholders will be approached via the professional networks of the project partners. At various stages of the project stakeholders are asked, and reminded via social media as Twitter, to join forum discussions about project outcomes. Stakeholders will be encouraged to participate because they have access to the newest information, tools and trainings to improve their communication.

Activities in this work area will stimulate interested stakeholders in the community to engage in online community activities: active online discussion and information exchange will be promoted via forums and Wikipedia-type digital share points. In addition, activities in this work area will facilitate the activities of other areas where active involvement of stakeholders is needed.

2.     Identify success factors

The second work area will utilise two comprehensive reviews of the existing literature regarding internal communication (between relevant disciplines) and external communication (with the consumers and the public) in order to identify and prioritise key communication barriers (and strategies to alleviate these) to consumer acceptance of new products or new food technologies. The key contribution of this work area is to ensure that the project will build on, and exploit, existing knowledge in these fields. Lessons from existing practices will be taken into account. The results of the two comprehensive reviews will be collated and a provisional set of guidelines regarding optimal communication and dialogue between key players involved in the food technology development and commercialisation process will be used as input for the conceptual framework of the fourth work area (‘Conceptualise improved dialogue’). These guidelines will also provide the basis for a check-list for decision makers, which is one of the results of the fifth work area (‘Develop Toolbox’).

3.     Diagnose barriers

The third work area will apply Delphi methodology to identify the opinions and priorities of key end-user groups regarding the development of an effective communication strategy. Delphi methodology will be applied to identify the views of experts regarding the definition of the problem and possible solutions. The Delphi method involves a degree of interactivity and dialogue, as found in group meetings, allied to the practicability of a survey, with benefits in terms of survey costs and potential access to wider expertise.

A two-round Delphi survey will be utilised. Participants will be asked to articulate key priorities, preferences and perceived barriers to inclusion of consumer science data regarding technology acceptance into project development. Participants will be asked for feedback, identifying where consensus and disagreement between groups have occurred. In particular, attention will be paid to the issue of how consumer scientists and food scientists communicate in order to discover the consumer-relevant advantages and possible risks related to food technology development and commercialisation.

4.     Conceptualise improved dialogue

The overall objective of this fourth work area is to conceptualise the improved dialogue into a framework for internal and external communication at the three different stages of the innovation process: screening of possible technologies, development of technologies, and applying technologies in product development. This framework can be used to optimise identification of communication needs and create the basis for developing tools that can facilitate dialogue between food technologists and consumer scientists.

5.     Develop Toolbox

The fifth work area will use the results and inputs from the other work areas to develop a set of concrete tools that can be used by stakeholders with interests in novel product development to ensure effective internal and external communication. Stakeholders identified in the first work area will be involved in these activities, as the tools and training activities will be developed and refined by  taking into account their input and feedback.

Three tasks are envisaged:

  1. developing material to support communication strategies at all stages of the food technology development and commercialisation process;
  2. planning training and education activities directed at food professionals and young academics;
  3. piloting support materials and training activities developed in the first two tasks.

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