Europe first gluten-free fibres enriched natural mineral water was developed by cooperation of members of the Agrofood Regional Cluster.
In Romania, around 30.000 kids are living in celiac disease and the numbers are growing. One of the biggest problems of patients with celiac disease, those suffering from gluten intolerance is the fact they are lacking in minerals, and they run the risk of developing colon cancer, as regards the age segment 30 - 40 years old. The product was designed to cover a business niche and also to prevent this terrible disease because the people consuming fibres on a daily basis run a lower risk of developing these diseases.
R&D Innovational cooperation between the SME and research centre.
Research and new product development activities.
The project was financed by the ERDF Funds. The total cost of the activities was around 12.000 Euro with 10%. cofinance rate.
For the market launch of the product, further funds are needed to build a new production facility.
The first phase of the project was implemented in 6 months, from September 2012 – February 2013. From 2013 the patent request procedure is in progress.
The project was developed in the Central Region, Covasna County, Valcele, a famous balneological city, with some analysis implemented in the capital of Romania, Bucharest.
By the cooperation frame of the Agrofood Regional Cluster, two of the members implemented the project. SC Wega Invest SRL, SME, and IBA - National Institute of Research and Development for Food Bioresources, research centre.
The total cost of the activities was around 12.000 Euro with 10%. cofinance rate. Main costs: researcher's salary, raw materials and engineering costs for planning the next production process. Chicory is a very common plant in the region, grows wild and can be collected very cheaply.
Evidence of success
Recommended for people suffering from gluten intolerance, for those adopting a healthy lifestyle, also recommended for patients suffering from ulcer or osteoporosis. The product can be easily measured and the complex documentation was prepared for the patent certification, which is still in progress. The mineral water with fibers is being sold only in Sfantu Gheorghe (central Romania) in very small quantities, and new funds are expected to build a new production facility and increase sales.
On European level it seems easier to get the certification than in national level. We can mention the fact that in Romania there is a small number of certificated research centres and even less highly qualified researchers. Because of the bad laws, the researchers are not paid for their work.
Potential for learning or transfer
The GP's most specific key is the open-minded cooperation will. In the region and also in the country the cooperation mentality is still in low level, and remain in the first place wich burden the cooperation mechanisms. Regional clusters in Romania can have a decisive role in empowering the cooperation between the stakeholders and between the sectors. By the support of the Agrofood Regional Cluster, other, very similar projects were implemented, as an example: high-level protein content drink development from dairy production waste by the same cooperation strategies. This clearly shows that the GP is a perfect example of further cooperation in the sector. In fact, after the implemented Gps, more cooperation started between other members in the cluster.