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Cooperation between industry and universities serves as a launching pad for innovations. You can see it for yourself in the large-scale food exposition "Riga Food 2018", which brings together business, science and consumers. This year, the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) booth is located in the food industry innovator section. It displays not only the commercially viable ideas of the university nutritional scientists, but also the products co-developed by pharmaceutical chemists. These products incorporate the valuable properties of medicinal herbs.

"Riga Food 2018" is taking place at Ķīpsala Exposition Centre from 5 to 8 September. The RSU booth is located in the "Food Innovations" section, curated by the Latvian Technological Centre and European Business Support Network in Latvia. This is a way to promote institutions and enterprises that develop and manufacture innovative food products.

This year, RSU presents food product mockups that stand out on the red corporate background and can be used to learn the basics of a healthy diet. Visitors are always interested in the body composition analyser that in a few seconds determines the amount of fat, lean and muscle mass, as well as the body mass index. Long-standing booth representatives explain that some people come for this test every year, often taking along results from the previous year to analyse them together with our nutrition, sports and health sciences students.

However, the biggest news this year is the berry processing company "Very Berry" that manufactures products involving the scientific potential of RSU. "Very Berry" has been operating in the food industry for a long time. It exports to countries such as Estonia, Sweden, France and Germany. The company was founded more than 20 years ago as "Lienama Alūksne". Now, the company is known for its wide range of juices, fruit drinks, syrups, berries and snacks. The basic principle of their business is to avoid any additives and other flavour enhancers and colourants. However, to make use of natural products as effectively as possible, for their new functional drink project, the enterprise invited a notable Latvian medicinal herb expert – RSU Associated Professor Vija Eniņa.

"The collaboration began with our participation in the EU-funded project "Innovative Product" that we would not have been able to manage without the professor's expertise," explains "Very Berry” export and sales manager Elīna Kostigova, referring to a juice line for children already available in stores. Collaboration with the professor has resulted in health enhancing, restorative as well as, quite the contrary  calming and relaxing mixed berry and fruit juices.

Currently, a new functional juice line, developed together with the scientist over the past year will be launched in November. The company does not yet reveal which berries will be used for these juices, they only mention that a large quantity of berries and different medicinal herbs are used for this product line. "Very Berry" mostly makes use of cranberries, sea buckthorn, raspberries, cherries, blueberries and strawberries, and their products can be tasted at the RSU booth. At the same time, using the expertise of employees from the RSU Biochemistry Laboratory, one can find out how many antioxidants are in each of the juices. As we found out through the application of reagents, chokeberries have the highest content of antioxidants, followed by cranberries. Both of these species are a great source of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that can neutralise free radicals in the body.

These square metres, rich with healthy innovations, are also a place of active recruitment. Although "Riga Food" is a food industry event, there are also some visitors who are potential students of one of almost 70 RSU healthcare and social sciences programmes.