Designing a world-class infrastructure to facilitate research

Making “the healthy choice the easy choice” requires knowledge about our dietary habits. This knowledge comes from analysing different types of information such as: What food and drinks are we buying, preparing and eating? Where? Why? How? With whom? In what social and physical context?

New ICT technologies bring opportunities for researchers to monitor and collect information on these behaviours. Every day, consumers and businesses generate “big data” – large volumes of information, that offer detailed descriptions of behaviours, including time and place (e.g. using GPS). If these data-rich sources could be linked and analysed, they have the potential to contribute greatly towards answering key questions to respond to societal challenges regarding food and health (e.g., obesity, cardiovascular disease, sustainability).

RICHFIELDS aims to design a consumer-data platform to collect and connect, compare and share information about our food behaviours, to revolutionise research on every-day choices made across Europe. RICHFIELDS seeks to determine what facilities, resources, and services can support research to learn more about what we choose to eat, and how and why we make those choices.

Stressing the need for world-class research infrastructures, EU Horizon 2020 provided financial support in 2015 for RICHFIELDS.

Research Infrastructures are facilities, resources or services which support the scientific community to conduct top-level research. Examples of RIs are CERN, the Hubble telescope, and the European clinical research infrastructure network (ECRIN). RIs facilitate harmonisation
of data and help researchers to:

  • Build bridges between national research communities and scientific disciplines.
  • Connect research, education and innovation.
  • Shape scientific communities.
  • Attract young people to science.

Start date: 1 October 2015
Duration: 3 years
Call: H2020-INFRADEV-1-2014-1
Topic addressed: Design of a new world-class research infrastructure
Coordinator: LEI Wageningen UR (NL)
Dissemination lead: European Food Information Council (EUFIC) (BE)

The first two phases of RICHFIELDS (Phase 1 WP5-7; Phase 2: WP8-10) will deliver in depth knowledge about the available consumer-related data (such as the type and quality). Based on this, the (future) requirements for the research infrastructure design will be developed (Phase 3: WP11-13).

Project Phases

Phase 1: Mapping consumer-generated data

New ICT technologies (e.g. mobile apps and tech-wear) enable individual consumers to provide and share data in real-time and in situ. Such data create new opportunities for research to monitor behaviours around food choice and provide personalised feedback.

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Phase 2: Connecting business and research-generated data

Most data on consumer behaviour in food and health are generated within a research context. Existing RIs and (European) projects generate and collect information about EU consumers across the food and health domains.

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Phase 3: Designing the research infrastructure platform

This phase will design the governance, intellectual property rights (IPR) and ethical aspects of the research infrastructure; activities can be grouped under: ICT, business models, and governance.

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RICHFIELDS will enable:

  • Researchers to conduct multidisciplinary world-class research, improving knowledge about healthy food choices
  • Policy-makers to make and evaluate evidence-based food and health policies, with a strong underpinning in consumer behaviour
  • Consumers to adopt healthier dietary patterns, fitting into their personal and social context/lifestyle

RICHFIELDS will seek the views of stakeholders, including consumers, to ensure the design is optimised and will answer:

  • What are the gaps and needs for understanding our dietary behaviours?
  • What do the research community need from data, tools and services?
  • How will end-users access the research infrastructure?