What is your role in the project?

In the SWEET project I am involved in work package 6 on ‘Stakeholder Engagement, Dissemination and Commercial Exploitation’. ILSI Europe is the SWEET Innovation Manager, which is a key role in the project aiming to identify and engage with relevant stakeholders. The identified stakeholders have at stake the development and adoption of sweeteners and sweetness enhancers (S&SEs), their safety and sustainability, and the health problems caused by obesity in society. They meet once in year in ‘Innovation Advisory Panels’ (IAPs) to be updated on the progress of the project. They also aim to engage with the consortium and to contribute to creating a vision of the future possible dynamics in S&SEs, and support some key project decision-making activities at specific times of the project.

Why is this important to the overall SWEET project?

Translation and exploitation of findings is at the centre of SWEET. Therefore, stakeholder engagement is crucial in the project to help reaching the project’s main objective: understanding the perceptions of the role of S&SEs as part of a healthy diet and identifying barriers and factors to their use will be key. The IAPs will ensure the outputs of SWEET will have optimal impact, by helping identify future application of  project findings, making policy and technical recommendations, enabling new collaborative projects to emerge, and facilitating fruitful academic-industry partnerships.

What have you gleaned so far from working on this theme in the context of SWEET and how will it contribute to the work?

Sweeteners and sweetness enhancers is a complex topic, and I have learned a lot since beginning of the project about different aspects of the topic (e.g. metabolic, consumer, sustainability, social aspects)and its potential impact on public health. I am convinced by the model of developing successful collaborative stakeholder engagement and public-private partnership, which are at the core of the project. Therefore I am proud to be in charge of this engagement and to put this in place to support the project’s objectives.

Lucie Geurts is Scientific Project Manager at ILSI Europe, Brussels, Belgium, where for 4 years in this role she manages several multi-stakeholder projects related to nutrition and brain health, sensory science and sweetness perception. Before that she worked for several years in academia, focusing her research on the link between gut microbiota and metabolic diseases such as obesity.