Episode Topic: In this episode of NutraPreneur, Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor, the Founder of inewtrition, talks about her knowledge of food chemistry and nutrition, how they are used in functional nutrition, and how Inewtrition’s remote assistance is helping improve product development, especially in the area of personalized nutrition. The conversation also dives into what the future holds for the nutraceutical industry.
Lessons You’ll Learn: During this episode, you’ll gain insights into the journey of Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor, a quarter-century of experience in the nutraceutical industry and the Founder and Company Director of inewtrition. We delve into her expertise in using food chemistry and nutrition to develop functional nutrition and wellness products, with a focus on medical and clinical nutrition. Additionally, we explore how inewtrition’s remote technical support empowers businesses in creating personalized nutrition solutions and innovative products, all underpinned by robust scientific evidence.
About Our Guest: Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor specializes in food chemistry, food science, and nutrition, focusing on functional nutrition and consumer well-being. She leads international teams, driving innovation for companies like Amgen and Nestlé. Her work spans infant formula, dietary supplements, and bioactives in global markets, particularly China. Raphaëlle’s core mission is “innovation by design,” using science and technology to revolutionize integrative nutrition, health, and beauty. She is dedicated to sustainable, multifunctional systems and meticulous due diligence processes.
Topics Covered: In this episode, Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor shares her journey in the nutraceutical industry, her expertise in developing functional nutrition and wellness products, and the transformative role of inewtrition’s remote technical support. We also delve into success stories, challenges, and future trends, highlighting inewtrition’s commitment to personalized nutrition and the evolution of the nutraceutical landscape.
Our Guest: Revolutionizing Nutraceuticals with Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor possesses over two and a half decades of expertise in conceiving, developing, and bringing to market innovations in the domains of food chemistry, food science, food technology, and nutrition. Her specialization centers on functional nutrition and the well-being of consumers, leveraging an extensive network of strategic partnerships and collaborators, coupled with her seasoned proficiency in systematic governance procedures.
Raphaëlle has taken the helm of numerous interdisciplinary teams on both international and regional fronts, serving as a catalyst for innovation and an ambassador for product portfolios. She spearheads and lends support to development initiatives that unite diverse product categories, with a track record that includes contributions to renowned companies such as Amgen, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Nestlé, Pfizer, and Wyeth Nutritionals. She also leads cross-functional technology transfer projects to contract manufacturing organizations, ensuring strict adherence to client business processes and the secure transfer of clinical and commercial products, technologies, and services.
Her vast experience encompasses the introduction of several brands of infant formula, dietary supplements for maternal nutrition, functional foods and beverages, cosmeceuticals, and bioactives, including probiotics, in various international markets, with a particular emphasis on China.
Raphaëlle’s primary focus revolves around the concept of ‘innovation by design,’ melding the principles of sound science, technology, and creativity to alter the course of integrative nutrition, health, and beauty from the inside out. She maintains a strong interest in sustainable, nutritional, and multifunctional systems, as well as in the meticulous due diligence processes that guarantee the utmost quality of information for her teams and clients.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: The quality of the product and their sensory experience around this product need to be again, very well understood and very carefully designed so that whatever we do in the lab is going to be scalable and is also going to be aligned with the consumer’s expectation. So I think it’s that combination of different sciences, different expertise and experience that is going to bring a consumer-centric product that is going to deliver in terms of sensory expectation, in terms of nutrition and in terms of functionality.
Bethany Jolley: Welcome to NutraPreneur, the Nutra industry podcast. I’m your host, food scientist and nutraceuticals consultant Bethany Jolley. Each episode we’ll be exploring what it takes to thrive in the nutraceutical industry. From conversations with successful nutraceutical entrepreneurs to venture capitalists to tech executives whose innovations are reshaping the nutraceutical industry. We explore the innovations and trends that are shaping the next generation of nutraceutical businesses. Welcome back to NutraPreneur, your portal into the world of cutting-edge innovations in the nutraceutical industry. I’m your host, Bethany. Today, we’re delighted to have Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor as our guest. A visionary with over 25 years of experience in food chemistry, food science, food technology, and nutrition. Dr. O’Connor is the founder and company director of inewtrition, where she leads a fully distributed food product development consultancy offering remote technical support and food innovation, and new product development. So great to have you today, Dr. O’Connor.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Bethany, it’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me, and I’d love to discuss with you all those opportunities around health and wellness from nutrition. Seems like we have a lot in common, and I’m looking forward to having this in-depth discussion on this topic with you.
Bethany Jolley: Yes, I’m looking forward to it as well. So as I mentioned, you have over 25 years of experience, so could you share with our listeners ultimately, what led you to become the founder and company Director of inewtrition?
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: I have a background in food science and technology, and from that, I very quickly moved into ingredients to understand and appreciate their value in terms of nutrition, in terms of functionality, and also understand the influence that process and technology can have on their nutrition, on their functionality. I spent about ten years looking at ingredients, and then I moved into the manufacturing of a number of functional foods and functional beverages, spent quite a lot of time looking at the infant formula category and then maternal nutrition with dietary supplements. In this space. I worked for about ten years in research and development and looking at the innovation of a number of different products and all the services that can support those products. Part of my role was also very much on the project management side, leading multidisciplinary teams, because when we look at product development and innovation, it’s not only R&D, we need a lot of support from quality, from marketing, from operations, from supply chain. So as much as I was able to support the projects in terms of having that SME expertise on food science and technology, I also was able to look at the project from a team leadership perspective, and from that I moved into a more strategic role, where I was able to support the organization by mapping out the overall strategy to develop and launch a number of different products, whether they were functional foods, functional beverages, and dietary supplements.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: After 25 years of experience in the industry, I really felt that I had a duty to share my knowledge with other entrepreneurs who may not have that background, and I think a lot of the very disruptive innovation in this space comes from people who don’t necessarily understand the industry. So, I felt it was very important for me to give them a couple of tools and share my experience so that they could accelerate the innovation and hopefully transform or change some of those products in terms of quality, in terms of technology, in terms of consumer-centric innovation product, that would be more suitable for a number of different segments and needs from the consumer perspective. So that’s really what the foundation of my inewtrition. In parallel to founding inewtrition, I’ve also been able to work in the medical device sector and also biotech and biopharma. So, it was important for me to really leverage the experience that I have. But constantly keeping an open mind and learning from adjacent categories or sectors. So, the core of inewtrition is in product development and innovation. But from that, I think the medical device industry, biotech, and biopharma can also be excellent catalysts to innovate in food. So that’s why inewtrition has this wide umbrella and understanding of how innovation can impact the food industry.
Bethany Jolley: Yeah. And I think it’s probably great for your clients as well that you have all of this background with project management and functional foods and supplements and medical devices because you really can serve as a resource for them because you understand all that goes into it. And like you mentioned, new entrepreneurs, they may not understand all of those aspects.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Exactly. So it’s really a plug-and-play business model for inewtrition depending on the team, depending on the project, depending on the gap, and depending on the need, I can pretty much operate as a technician and go back to the lab. I can also operate as a sounding board, or I can also support some of those professionals in their strategy. And I like the variety of projects. And I also would want to constantly learn and bring new elements to the food industry, but also to my customers. That’s why I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just sitting comfortably in my previous experience. I really need to enhance my own skill set. And in terms of mindset, I think the other categories, the other industries bring some extremely vibrant, energizing knowledge and perspective that, again, fertilize innovation in the food industry.
Bethany Jolley: Absolutely. And you have a strong background in food chemistry and nutrition. And so how have you been able to apply this expertise to the development of functional nutrition and wellness products?
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: That’s my bread and butter. And I think you probably understand this as much as I do. But the complexity of the food matrix requires a good understanding of the different aspects of nutrition and how that can impact our consumer health. But the science, in terms of the chemistry and the physics of those different components and ingredients, really needs to be carefully designed and formulated, because some of those ingredients may behave a certain way. But when they are in a specific type of environment, in terms of temperature, in terms of age, in terms of ionic strength, their behavior is going to be different. So as much as we need to understand the different ingredients in isolation, we also need to understand the matrix, the system in which those ingredients need to behave. And not only we need to formulate very carefully any type of food or beverage, but there are a number of different processes that are going to impact the overall product. And then once the product is manufactured, it has to go into a packaging, and then it has to go through distribution and potentially retail, and then it has to be consumed. So, there are many different elements that need to be taken into account from the design of the product all the way to the consumption. So, it’s not all about nutrition, but the science and the chemistry, and the physics that are involved in the development of a food product are critical to be successful.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: And it is in that context, really, that we can’t just look at product development in one specific type of science, and the other one that I think can be sometimes overlooked is sensory science, and how our consumers are going to perceive the quality of the product and their sensory experience around this product need to be, again, very well understood and very carefully designed so that whatever we do in the lab is going to be scalable and is also going to be aligned with the consumer’s expectation. So, I think it’s that combination of different sciences, different expertise, and experience that is going to bring a consumer-centric product that is going to deliver in terms of sensory expectation, in terms of nutrition, and in terms of functionality. So very important that people like me are like you are involved at the early stages of those projects so that we can bring to the table that knowledge and that expertise that is critical to developing a successful product not only in the lab, but also in the manufacturing facility and then with the consumer when the product is actually consumed. And even we could go one step further when the packaging of the product is. Being discarded, because that’s another very important element that is part of the overall experience.
Bethany Jolley: You bring up a lot of good points. There’s just so much that goes into determining the product stability, the product safety scale up like you mentioned, and then packaging and overall sustainability. Bringing some light to that is really important.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Yes, absolutely.
Bethany Jolley: And with everything becoming so digitalized, I think it’s important to note that inewtrition offers remote technical support and food innovation. And so can you provide some insights on how this remote approach really empowers businesses to develop new products and bring those innovative solutions to market?
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Certainly, this really started during Covid, when companies and entrepreneurs really wanted to continue to work on those projects. But the access to the lab or the pilot plant may not have been as easy or straightforward. And in this context, I knew that there was an awful lot of work that could be done remotely to support those projects. So, I really started to bring together some training material and some thought in terms of how we could still move those projects along and provide some support to those teams and entrepreneurs in different parts of the world. Because once we understand the science that has to go into product development, and it is quite easy to do an awful lot of those activities remotely. And with this, we can already assess the feasibility of a specific project in terms of ingredients. For example, a lot of the technical data sheet and the safety, quality, and quality data sheet is readily available. So, we can already have an excellent idea of the type of ingredients we are going to use. We can also do an awful lot of scientific research. We can do a lot of IP in terms of intellectual property, looking at patents. So, this is a first preliminary activity that needs to take place. Market research market analysis and customer insights, competitive landscape, regulatory framework. All of those are already available. So that’s definitely a lot of the work that can be done upfront remotely in terms of product design.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Again, we have a fairly good idea that some of the behavior of those ingredients and how those are going to behave in a specific matrix. So again, a lot of work can be done remotely. I have a lab at home, and I also have access to nearby research organizations. So we can quite easily formulate and develop some of those products and within a specific location. Certainly, sometimes we also need to be on-site in order to test with specific conditions or their specific ingredients and also specific types of equipment. So in this context, it was very important for inewtrition to be able to provide remote support, but also to build the network and the ecosystem to make sure that the professionals who needed that type of support are able to get it within a realistic timeframe and also cost-effectively. So I have a number of different food scientists and food technologists or quantity professionals who are located in different parts of the world and who also can provide some onsite and technical support. So the combination of doing a lot of homework and drone work remotely is giving us a very good assessment of what’s happening and how we can anticipate a product to behave. But at the same time, it is very important that there is also nearby professionals or experts who can also support the project as needed.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: I have a network, also of manufacturers who can help to scale the product into the different markets. So, to answer your question, what I have created is really remote access to some technical expertise that can be available pretty much any time, and build that network of professionals who can fill the gaps if needed, whether it is. About maybe testing the product in a specific market. Whether it is being able to scale, manufacture, and commercialize the product in a different market. Because in terms of sustainability, it is very important that we look at a number of different options and see which one is the most suitable and for a specific project. And in terms of consumer insights, we know that not all the consumers have the same type of lifestyle, the same type of preferences. So, it is very important as well that we have some support within each of the markets or each of the regions. So inewtrition is able to provide a lot of the activities remotely, but also part of a wide network of professionals who can be a on-site and in the different markets to do some of the activity that are critical for innovation and product development in the most cost-effective, efficient and timely manner.
Bethany Jolley: Yeah, that’s great because I think a lot of companies, they do need that help on-site to just troubleshoot things that are happening, or maybe to get some further insight from your team of experts. So, I think it’s great that you offer the remote benefits, but then you also have someone that can step in, have boots on the ground, and come in if needed. So, I think it’s great that you offer both.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Yeah. And when we look at the project, it’s really a collaboration with our client. And we assess the situation, we assess the need, and we look at the best way to support our customers. Sometimes everything can be done remotely and it can be done very quickly. Sometimes it’s a combination of remote support with someone who can be on-site, and sometimes it is important to identify the best person who is going to be on-site to support the project. The idea is that our inewtrition would be very modular. It is flexible, agile, and lean to make sure that people can get the support that they need at the time that they need it, and within their budget and their own constraints.
Bethany Jolley: Yes, absolutely. And you also mentioned lifestyle and how the different regions might have some different requirements. And I think it’s important to note that inewtrition really specializes in areas like medical foods and personalized nutrition. So how does your consultancy leverage scientific evidence to create these health and wellness products that are customized and personalized for individual consumers?
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: This is a broad question, and we can probably isolate a number of different topics within that question. Certainly, the regulatory landscape around functional foods, dietary supplements, medical food, or food for special medical purposes is quite complex at a global level. And then again, once we understand the fit between the product and the regulatory landscape, and we are able to provide the support that is required. So first identify the type of category, the type of regulatory requirements that we need to comply with. And then in that, because when we speak about customized nutrition, it’s certainly very important to identify the target segment from a consumer perspective and make sure that the product delivers in terms of nutritional needs, in terms of lifestyle, and life stage. So all of those are really going to be critical to identify the key attributes that the products need to meet. And this is very much part of the preliminary type of work that needs to take place so that we are completely aligned between the product and the consumer, and in that context, understand the regulatory strategy that we need to apply. So the work of inewtrition is to really work very closely with the client to identify those key elements, regulation, product, and consumer to have this complete alignment. And that needs to take place at the very high level in terms of building the business and the strategy, but also from a practical perspective, in terms of innovation pipeline and innovation roadmap, and also on the operational side, really at the very granularity of the ingredients and the product design and the formulation. So it is all three different aspects that need to be completely aligned and agreed upon for the project to to be successful in the marketplace.
Bethany Jolley: Yes, absolutely. And how do you think that this personalized nutrition is really impacting consumer well-being?
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: So personalized nutrition is almost a stage beyond that, whereby we are aiming at some point in the future to have a product or a service that is designed for everybody. And between now and then there is certainly a trinity to look at what I call customized nutrition, whereby we identify our customers in cohorts. So those could be our pregnant and lactating women, those could be people with diabetes. Those people could be people who have a dietary preference, like being a vegan. Dietary requirements may be around metabolic health, for example, good health. So instead of looking at each individual, we can easily identify and isolate a cohort of consumers that have different needs. And all of my projects in the last couple of years have been focused in meeting the requirements of a specific group of people who have specific life stages or lifestyle or nutritional needs. So before we can have a complete alignment between the products out there today and each individual, there is certainly an opportunity to customize nutrition with a number of different products. And as I said at the moment, I think personalized nutrition is a little bit ahead of us, but there are still a lot of different activities that need to take place between now and then in order to have that alignment that I mentioned earlier. So we can go into that in a little bit more detail. But what I’m trying to say is, as much as in the future, we are hoping to have a very personalized approach in terms of nutrition. I think there are quite a lot of activities that need to take place to build the science and the evidence that the food products that we have are going to be completely aligned with each individual need, right?
Bethany Jolley: Yes. That’s something that’s really quite difficult to accomplish just because each individual’s deficiencies might differ or their end goal or benefits they’re looking for. So it can be tricky to try to personalize to each individual.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: It’s something very ambitious, and I have no doubt that as science progresses, especially around omics as we call it, and transcriptomics and metabolomics and microbiomics and proteomics, all of those are going to unfold in the near future. But there are still a lot of gaps at the moment that the industry is addressing. In fact, it doesn’t really come from the food industry. It’s more coming from the tech industry, like topics around maybe advanced artificial intelligence or machine learning. All of those complex areas are going to help us to accelerate that link between individual profiles and the nutrients that we need in order to prevent some of those diseases or minimize the impact that some of those illnesses may have on us. But right now, companies are still building the science, the evidence of how food and nutrients and can not only impact our health because we have that already well understood but how we can preempt or proactively address our health with food. So more to be revealed in that space. But what we have seen is that it’s moving very fast. The knowledge and the science are certainly in the process of being built, and some of those assumptions are being confirmed or but it will still take about 20 or 30 years before we have the tools, the processes in place to be able to have the confidence and also to protect our consumers of some of those assumptions. And that needs to be confirmed. So right now, still a lot of work and needs to happen to be able to offer some products that have been specifically designed for each of the individuals.
Bethany Jolley: This episode is brought to you by nutrapayments.com. If your business needs credit card processing that fully integrates with most major Nutra software platforms, offers the lowest industry prices, and has built-in features like recurring billing, $0 trials, and chargeback prevention. And visit us at nutrapayments.com for a free online quote. I think it’d be really helpful if you could share some examples of some success stories where inewtrition’s remote technical support played a pivotal role in the development or the launch of innovative products, particularly in the field of functional.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Foods. Yes, in that I mentioned customized nutrition and I have been involved in a number of different projects, for example, a number of different dietary supplements for people who are very concerned about sustainability and who are vegan. So again, we are not going at the individual level here, but we can really understand the needs of people who are vegan and who have concerns about sustainability. So, in this context and the potential number of different ingredients and nutrients, and also in terms of sustainability, all of the ingredients that we picked were also very carefully chosen to address the concern of our target audience. There was also a very interesting piece of work on the packaging, again addressing some of the concerns and requirements of the target audience. So, this is a perfect type of project around customized nutrition, where the consumer was very well identified in terms of nutritional needs and also in terms of values and ethics. And from that, we were able to understand the regulatory framework because it was dietary supplements for the US. So, all of that is very well established, and we were able to design a product in terms of ingredients, but also product design that was able to be applied successfully in terms of development and scale up and commercialize in such a way that it was meeting the sensory expectations from our consumer. So, this is one example. Another example was for the market of in Singapore, looking at athletes and some of their specific requirements during their exercise and during their performance. So again, in this context, it was the cohort was very well established of people who were extremely fit with some specific requirements on vitamins and minerals throughout the exercise.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: However, the climate in which those people operate was quite difficult, and it was important to have a specific amount of water and a number of different claims around hydration. So, we were able to design a number of different products that had to go through quite a lot of consumer testing to make sure that the product was not only palatable but also enjoyable during the exercise because they would have to drink a lot of these products over a period of 6 or 8 hours. So again, completely different category. And whereby the importance of food science and technology to design the product, but also the sensory aspect of the product needed to be taken into account for this specific target audience. I’m just thinking about another product here, whereby I worked an awful lot for a company doing dietary supplements for pregnant and lactating women. So again, from a consumer perspective, those nutritional requirements were clearly defined. There was a lot of science about the needs of those ladies and their senses. Expectation, because of the sensitivity to different flavors and to different tastes, was also critical for us to be able to design a product that was aligned with their expectations and their needs. So those are three different projects where by working very closely with the consumer in terms of insights, in terms of competitive landscape, we were able to identify some of the key elements that needed to be part of the design of the project, the formulation, and also understand how process and technology could potentially impact those so that the end product would be of high quality, obviously safe, but also aligned with the requirements and the expectation of the consumer.
Bethany Jolley: Yeah, and you bring up some good points there as well. I don’t think a lot of brands are thinking about those particular groups, like pregnant women, for instance, that they’re going to be sensitive to certain flavors and textures during that stage of their life. And so, you have to be very aware of that when developing a product for those individuals.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Yes, especially around oils and how those can become a little bit strong in flavor. So, we developed a number of different product formats. Some of them were ready-to-mix powders, others were capsules and tablets, and gummies. Just to really understand what were the what we call key sensory attributes that was relevant to our target consumer. And it is very important to test the product at regular time points of the project to make sure that we are not drifting from the consumer needs, the consumer wants. And often when we formulate those products, we focus on the nutritional content. But if the consumer doesn’t have any enjoyment or if the appearance or if the texture of the product doesn’t meet the expectation, there won’t be any repeat purchase. So ultimately, this is not a success from an innovation perspective. So the activities of developing products and meeting with the consumer on a regular basis to check that there is a need and that there is a satisfactory response is critical during the product development and all of those innovation projects.
Bethany Jolley: Absolutely. There are just so many factors that go into food innovation. And what would you say are the key challenges and opportunities in this fast-evolving landscape of food innovation, and how is inewtrition really addressing these challenges?
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: I think the key challenges is to understand that life science is going to address quite a lot of aspects of the product and make sure that this is aligned with the consumer’s expectation. But what I have seen more recently for this category is the criticality of social science and data science. In the past, I think those were probably overlooked or understated, but when we speak about personalized nutrition, we go beyond the product. We really need to look at the service and the technology that are going to be integrated into the product, so that the consumer can have access to a full solution that goes beyond the product. If there is a holistic approach in terms of innovation, we are going to support our consumers not only today but tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. So for me, the challenge of looking beyond the product is actually the opportunity where I think companies can certainly look at the ingredient and the product design and the process. But beyond that, we really need to look at the individual and make sure that the lifestyle, the psychology, the thoughts that go beyond the product are also taken into account. And if we look at data science, how knowledge about consumers, how some are processing some of those devices can also generate a lot of data and knowledge that can be used to align the product with the consumer. And when we speak about personalized nutrition, we obviously want to support our consumers today, but we want to continue to generate that data to help. Consumer in the future. But from a company perspective, that data is also very important to continue to build the knowledge and the evidence that we need to demonstrate the importance of customized nutrition to support health and wellness of our consumers. So for me, the challenge is the solution, and each company should probably look at their strengths and their weakness and open the door to collaboration to see what other companies, what other maybe academic institutions can also be part of the project to develop this end-to-end integrated approach towards health and wellness?
Bethany Jolley: Yes, and I think that’s a great value add that you provide to your customers. You’re really doing the research and evaluating all of the data to make sure that they’re putting a product out there that’s truly going to help consumers. Like you said today and throughout the many stages of their life.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Absolutely. And in that context, inewtrition can help. But the company needs to look at this holistic approach and integrated solution. And it doesn’t happen overnight. Right. So what we do is we look at where we’re at today. We identified some of those gaps. We look at the trends and some of those early signals so that over time, we are going to be able to bring a solution that is differentiated, that is integrated, and that is going to impede the path towards that personalized nutrition that we are aiming for. But as I mentioned earlier, between now and then, it’s a long journey where companies need to work together to build the science, to build the evidence, and to help our consumers along the way, to learn to appreciate the value of nutrition in supporting health and wellness in the long term. So that won’t happen overnight. But I think companies that keep an open mind and that can leverage already a lot of that science that is readily available, that can collaborate with external to strengthen their value proposition and to differentiate their product and their solution, are more likely to succeed in this space.
Bethany Jolley: Absolutely. And the field of functional nutrition is just continuously changing and evolving. There’s new trends and innovations that are coming to light all of the time. And so how do you foresee in the realm of personalized nutrition that we’ve been talking about? How do you see that? And the scientific evidence demonstrating health benefits through nutrition? And how is inewtrition planning to really embrace these trends?
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: So some of those aspects of health and wellness through nutrition are already well established and our regulatory framework already helps to design some of those products based on science. So when we speak about minerals and vitamins or specific ingredients, there are some claims that are already associated with the benefits of those. So this is already a very solid base. Then it’s up to us innovators to do the required clinical study and diligence to build upon that science and demonstrate the value of certain bioactive and ingredients in supporting health and wellness through nutrition. So that’s the type of work that we do. And then beyond that, I think there are a lot of tools that are available to continue to validate and hence that science, especially on the basis that we also have a lot of data on the nutritional needs of some of those cohorts that I mentioned earlier. So it is those aspects of the science that need to be met. And in that, I think that science and social science can also help companies to succeed and to innovate. So up to recently, I think those were probably overlooked. But it is becoming more the norm now that companies really bring those types of disciplines and expertise in-house in order to facilitate, accelerate those transitions and that knowledge.
Bethany Jolley: Yes. And you also have expertise in systematic governance processes. So how do you envision the integration of data and technology and regulatory compliance shaping the future of the nutraceutical industry in terms of governance?
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: And it is very important that when we go through the. A sense of innovation and product development, that we have a multidisciplinary team that can evaluate the progress and the activity that have been undertaken, and make sure that the criteria have been met. So usually, we use a stage gate process. It doesn’t necessarily have to be very complicated, but at regular stages throughout the projects, whether it is ideation or development or scale up or launch a number of different people representing different functions, whether it is data science, whether it is regulatory quality, safety, operation, procurement, finance would actually sit down together and look at the different criteria and parameters that were that were agreed upon at the beginning of the project to make sure that all of the requirements have been met, and then those people make a decision as to whether the project should go to the next stage or not. Otherwise, we would end up with a very biased project whereby it might not be successfully viable in terms of building a commercially viable business. So not only we are very keen to contribute to those innovation projects, but we always work very closely with the client to have a process in place so that we can check regularly and on the attribute of the product, and make sure that the projects meet all of the requirements from a business perspective.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Because as much as people like yourself or myself represent a specific function, there are so many different aspects of the project that need to be taken into account in order to not only bring a successful product to the market, but really have a sustainable business, and that is going to be valuable, and also that is going to meet the requirements of our customers. So from my perspective, I suppose what I would be looking at is not only the product, but also the innovation roadmap, the product portfolio and how we are going to launch a suitable product, but also bring a number of different innovation over time and continuously meet our consumer needs, or maybe look at different markets or different product categories. So we are always looking at time and how we need to meet the requirements on a medium, short, medium and long-term basis.
Bethany Jolley: Yeah, and we’ve already touched on some ideas and some future concepts. But looking ahead, what are the key goals and projects on the horizon for inewtrition and how do you plan to continue pioneering the development of personalized nutrition and functional foods for the overall betterment of consumers’ health and wellness?
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: That’s an ambitious question, but certainly someone like me would really need to look at other aspects of product development, and I think the area where I want and need to improve on is really the data science piece of of food. Ultimately, I think bioinformatics is really going to take over the development of food products as we know it today. And in order to stay competitive, we really need to bring the data science into the product development. So that’s one aspect that I think is critical for inewtrition and other companies to look at. The other one is really around biotechnology and how some of those emerging technologies are going to develop and launch a number of different bioactive. So, the products that are going to be formulated are going to be extremely targeted. So, to answer your question, the key here for someone like me is really to bring new expertise, such as data scientists, and also looking at emerging technologies such as precision fermentation and cellular technology, molecular biology. Because I really think that the new molecules are going to come from a completely different industry and sector. So people like you and me are soon going to be obsolete if we don’t reinvent ourselves and look at new ways of creating food. I came across a concept recently which was food as software, and I think that’s probably a very good description of what’s coming next.
Bethany Jolley: That’s true. Everything is just becoming replaced. So we do have to keep ourselves relevant in the industry for sure. And I know you mentioned that you had a slide that you thought would be beneficial to share. Did you want to share that with us now?
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Yeah. Think it would be probably helpful to try to visualize some of the concepts that I mentioned earlier. They’re not particularly easy to to define, actually, but I’d like to finish maybe by showing you this slide, which I think could overview of what I was trying to explain, bear with me. So in this slide what we see is time on the x and on the y-axis. And what I have captured here on the x-axis is the category. So we have the product, we have the delivery. How this is going to be delivered to our consumer. We have the service and we have the technology. And on the y-axis I tried to describe our consumer and I have identified three different buckets of consumer here. One is our peak performers. They are usually our Gen Z and our millennials the one in the middle. There are reactive consumers. They are potentially our boomers. They may have been identified with a chronic illness and the top one are proactive or preventative health consumers. They are the one who are relying upon food or beverages in order to address their health and wellness in the long term.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: And then here what I have is I have ingredients, I have recipes. So this is our product design. I also have the offering in terms of route to market, how this is going to be delivered to our consumer. I have the motivation looking at it from a consumer perspective, what’s going on in their mind and why are they relying upon food to address some of their health and wellness needs? Here I have the testing again, looking at some of those tools that we have to address health and wellness through nutrition. And here I have a device that can be part of the health and wellness journey. And last but not least, I have the diagnosis. So I think this slice is quite interesting because we can pretty much combine the solution, the offering against our consumers, our different groups of consumers. And those silos are the different touchpoints with our consumer. And I think it’s a good visual to capture how health and wellness through nutrition can be addressed.
Bethany Jolley: Yes, it’s a great visual representation. It’s really helpful.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: And if we wanted to go one bit further, I’ve also tried to capture some of those early signals that I had seen in the industry over the last couple of years. So as you can see here, for each of the different segments and for each of the different silos, I was able to pick up on some of those signals to see what I believe is coming up next. So this slide again, it’s quite complex and it probably goes as far as personalized nutrition, because we can see here on the right-hand side all of the aspects around diagnostic, which is more on the medical side or health and wellness. But beyond that, you can certainly have a good idea already how companies can look at it from a very holistic and integrated approach. And in the middle of this slide here, you can see some of the signals that I have identified that are coming up and that companies should potentially look at. And maybe just to finish, I’d like to give you some perspective on the basis that none of those have to be followed in a specific pattern. It’s up to companies and teams to identify some of those that might or might not be relevant to their project or to their company, and see how they can build that integrated solution and also offer some key differentiators for their organization. So I think this is something I wanted to share with our audience, because I think it crystallized what we spoke about and during this session.
Bethany Jolley: Yes, absolutely. It’s great to visualize. We see that and I think this is a great tool. Thank you for sharing.
Dr. Raphaëlle O’Connor: Yeah, you’re very welcome. I mean, this is just an example. We could also map out with some of the brands, right. So companies could very easily maybe look at metabolic health and see well this company that this and this university is very strong in that. So again you can quite easily identify some of the gaps and see where your strengths and weaknesses are.
Bethany Jolley: Yes absolutely. Well thank you so much once again for joining us today. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you and learning more about inewtrition. And as we conclude this enlightening conversation, we’ve really gained deep insights into the world of food innovation and personalized nutrition. With Dr. O’Connor, Founder and Company Director of inewtrition. Her expertise is truly transformative for our listeners interested in exploring inewtrition’s innovative solutions for food product development. Personalized nutrition. And functional dudes will provide all the necessary links. Don’t forget to subscribe, share your thoughts, and join us in celebrating the ever-evolving world of nutraceutical innovations on social media until our next episode. Stay informed, well-nourished, and inspired.
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