November 22, 2016
Choose New Jersey, Inc. | Originally published in Business Facilities' September/October 2016
Nestlé Health Science could have selected any location in the world for its research home. After scouring the globe, the company chose an 180,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in New Jersey’s bioscience corridor.
Why? The subsidiary of the Swiss food giant is exploring the power of nutrition to change the course of health, and New Jersey has a long history of innovation. With the highest concentration of scientists and engineers in the world, it’s no wonder Nestlé cited the “commercial and technical competence” of the State’s highly educated workforce as a key factor in its decision.
Nestlé Health Science is in good company. Food industry leaders including Mondelēz, Pinnacle Food Group and Unilever all have major food innovation and research centers in New Jersey.
These giants of the food industry — and other companies across the State – are tapping into the experience and entrepreneurial spirit of the State’s highly educated workforce to develop food that’s healthier and tastier. And, they’re pioneering the food frontier of tomorrow.
Exploring the Potential of Nutritional Therapies
Despite its food industry heritage, Nestlé Health Science doesn’t consider itself a food company. It is creating a new industry somewhere between food and pharmaceuticals to advance the therapeutic role of nutrition to change the course of health management.
The company already has an impressive array of products to help correct or improve nutrition – from nutritional therapies for chronic medical conditions to products that alleviate food allergies in infants. But, that’s just the beginning.
With new opportunities emerging based on scientific advancements, the forward-thinking company is exploring new frontiers – from the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders to the underlying causes of gastrointestinal disorders – utilizing the latest innovations in nutrition.
That’s why choosing a location where collaboration with companies in the biotech and pharmaceutical space was so important to Nestlé. With 14 of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world and more than 400 biotech companies, New Jersey was the ideal place for pioneering new ideas through collaboration with companies with scientific know-how.
Utilizing Biotechnology Innovation to Create Healthier, Tastier Food
One of the New Jersey biotech companies that is collaborating with Nestlé and other food industry partners to create healthier, tastier foods is North Brunswick-based Chromocell Corporation, albeit it never intended to be part of the food revolution.
Chromocell began its life at one of New Jersey’s life sciences incubators – the Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT) – after two researchers discovered a process to block pain. As it turned out, its Chomovert technology was as good at blocking bitterness and increasing the perception of sweetness and saltiness in food as it was as a pain blocker.
Today, Chromocell employs approximately 120 scientists and support staff, who collaborate with food companies such as Nestlé, Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola to reduce sugar and salt in food while preserving the taste. While the company is not abandoning its plans to continue its research of Chromovert as a pain medication, the company already is having an impact on public health by reducing the salt and sugar content of foods and beverages we eat and drink every day.
The scientists at Chromocell aren’t alone in their pursuit of technologies that makes food taste better and healthier. New Jersey is home to the worlds’ leading flavor, fragrance and ingredient manufacturers. At last count, this sector totaled 128 firms, including nine of the top ten flavor and fragrance companies in the world.
New Jersey scientists at companies like Firmenich, Symrise and IFF are partnering with innovators in the fields of biochemistry, microbiology, physiology and neuroscience to develop new solutions for healthier food.
Innovation Brings Fresh Produce to Urban Areas
Food innovation isn’t just happening in laboratories. In New Jersey’s cities, next-generation farmers are rethinking the fundamentals of agriculture. And, they’re utilizing innovative technologies and renovated industrial space to grow healthy produce for people in urban food deserts.
One of these visionary companies is AeroFarms. The commercial leader in indoor vertical farming opened the world’s largest vertical farm in an old paint ball arena in the Ironbound section of Newark. While the indoor farm is currently producing enough leafy greens for local supermarkets and restaurants, the implications of the technology for the future of agricultural cannot be understated.
The innovative growing process being perfected in Newark requires no soil or sunlight, and utilizes 95 percent less water, 50 percent less fertilizer and zero pesticides. Not only does the process reduce the carbon footprint by growing fresh produce closer to the customer, indoor farms can produce more than 75 times more leafy greens than traditional farms.
As demand for fresh produce grows with the world’s population, the technology being perfected in urban farms in New Jersey may have the potential to alleviate the impact of drought, flooding and other weather events that can affect traditional farming.
One thing is certain. The innovation that’s taking place in New Jersey is destined to make the food we eat healthier, tastier and more abundant in the future. What better legacy for a place that’s nicknamed the Garden State.