Crossed glances of experts on the Innovation Awards Roullier 2020 – Pr. Mario Estévez and Pr. Johannes Lehmann

Mario Estévez and Johannes Lehmann are respectively Professor in the department of animal production and food science at the University of Extremadura and Professor of soil biogeochemistry and soil fertility management at Cornell University.

As members of the jury of the Innovation Awards Roullier 2020 and experts in their field, they agreed to give their views on the trends they perceive and on the opportunity that the Innovation Awards Roullier 2020 can represent.

What do you think about public-private collaboration such as the one proposed under Innovation Awards Roullier 2020 ?

Pr. Estévez. Collaborations between Academia and industrial sectors are essential to guarantee the progress in any particular field or discipline. Generation of knowledge should be inferred to solve industrial problems and societal concerns. Scientists and academicians have the responsibility to be aware of the necessities from industry and work to provide solutions.

Pr. Lehmann. In my field, public-private partnerships are important instruments for innovation to address food security and environmental issues. Such collaborations can be transformative at several stages of scientific discovery, whether through identification of exciting research questions or during translation of a scientific idea to a marketable product. The global experience and insight of the Groupe Roullier will give researchers the opportunity to contribute to relevant science that makes a difference.

Pr. Estévez. I agree, the two awards offered by the Groupe Roullier are admirable as researchers are given a unique opportunity to collaborate with a top industrial partner, and are supported to carry out a relevant research project.

Professor Lehmann, if I pronounce the words "soil" and "innovation", what do they mean to you?

Pr. Lehmann. Next-generation soil amendments reach beyond approaches to simply add nutrients, but increasingly include smart manipulations of the rhizosphere ecology and plant hormones. The benefits of organic matter in soil is undisputed, but the interaction of the myriad different organic compounds, the microbial community and the rhizosphere remains a vastly understudied field. This not only means untapped opportunities for plant production but many other ecosystem services that soil may provide including carbon storage to mitigate climate change or water filtration.

And you Professor Estévez,  in your opinion, why has the Groupe Roullier  decided to open a contest in Animal Nutrition?

Pr. Estévez. Feeds are not only the materials from which animals are provided with building blocks and energy required to grow and develop: they are closely connected to animal health and welfare and have a great impact on quality and safety of animal products. Decisions taken at the farm in regards to animal nutrition have relevant consequences in terms of quantity and quality of the products for meat or milk for example. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the origin of the food they eat and this includes the animal’s rearing system and feeding background. Furthermore, feeds represent between 60% and 80% of the total costs in a livestock farm and therefore, the efficiency of feed and dietary supplements has to be guaranteed.

What about innovation?

Pr. Estévez. The opportunities to carry out innovative research in this field are enormous given the challenges that we face such as feed efficiency, novel sources of feeds and supplements, phytogenics, probiotics, sustainability, animal health and welfare, consumer’s concerns and expectations, food quality and safety … We can also count on the great methodological advances achieved in the last few years such as spectrometric and spectroscopic methods or OMIC sciences. Therefore, the Innovation Awards Roullier 2020 is a splendid chance for scientists in the fields of nutrition, biochemistry, physiology or veterinary sciences …, to show their original ideas.

My last question will be simple, what advice would you give the candidates of the Innovation Awards Roullier 2020?

Pr. Lehmann. Surprise us! This is an opportunity for trying out something new, to move out of your comfort zone and what is accepted knowledge. You will find the Groupe Roullier to be a partner as curious as you’d want to be about new technology.

Pr. Estévez. My advice to the applicants? Reflect on an idea that unifies the most advanced science and a topic of industrial interest. Applicants should be able to find a solution to a current problem in the field of animal nutrition, applying solid scientific knowledge, a reasonable hypothesis and a feasible research workplan.

Innovation news

Crossed glances of experts on the Innovation Awards Roullier 2020 – Pr. Mario Estévez and Pr. Johannes Lehmann

14 February 2020

Mario Estévez and Johannes Lehmann are respectively Professor in the department of animal production and food science at the University of Extremadura and Professor of soil biogeochemistry and soil fertility management at Cornell University. As members of the jury of the Innovation Awards Roullier 2020 and experts in their field, they agreed to give their […]