UP and Nestlé forge a transformative partnership to advance food research and education

By working together under this transformative MoU, Nestlé and UP strive to lead the way in shaping the future of food and nutrition research, education, and sustainability.

The University of Pretoria (UP) is proud to announce a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nestlé, the world's leading food and beverage company. This marks the beginning of a strategic collaboration aimed at fostering academic excellence, research development, and technical cooperation in the field of sustainable food systems and nutrition.

The MoU symbolises a shared commitment to collaborate to revolutionise food research and education, and it paves the way for mutual benefits by advancing the local knowledge landscape in the food and nutrition domain, while supporting students in their studies.

UP is a renowned public higher education institution, with a focus on promoting education, engagement, and research. As part of the partnership, the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Food Systems (ARUA-SFS) will play a pivotal role in driving impactful research aimed at transforming Africa's food systems to promote sustainable development and food security.

Nestlé brings its global expertise as a leading manufacturer of consumer products and its commitment to research and development. Nestlé conducts extensive research and innovation through its 23 research and development (R&D) locations worldwide, including the R&D Centre in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Advancing research as part of the ARUA-SFS collaboration, UP's Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences introduces an unparalleled avenue for students. Enrolled under this initiative, students will immerse themselves in hands-on experiential learning while pursuing impactful PhD and master's thesis projects. These projects will unfold within Nestlé's global R&D facilities, offering a unique blend of academic guidance from both UP and Nestlé mentors. By uniting academic rigor with practical research, this collaboration promises enriching educational journeys and substantial research prospects for selected undergraduates and postgraduates.

Prof Frans Swanepoel, Director of International Strategic Partnerships at UP and Interim Director of ARUA-SFS, expressed excitement about the collaboration, stating: "This partnership with Nestlé is an important step forward in our pursuit of excellence in sustainable food systems research and education. By joining forces with Nestlé, we are unlocking new avenues for our students to thrive and make significant contributions to the future of food."

Through this MoU, Nestlé will provide selected students with opportunities to perform their PhD research in collaboration with Nestlé's R&D experts. The company will also host students for experiential learning and partnership programmes at Nestlé R&D centres that are relevant to their studies. “This collaboration is part of our ongoing efforts to strengthen scientific engagement with universities and research institutes in sub-Saharan Africa. Through knowledge sharing and supporting emerging students, we can contribute to the advancement of the food and nutrition value chain in a holistic and locally relevant way,” said Céline Worth, Programme Manager for Affordable Nutrition for Research and Development at Nestlé.

Prof Naushad Emmambux, Department of Consumer and Food Sciences at UP, echoed the sentiment that the MoU lays a strong foundation for UP to collaborate closely with Nestlé to ensure the successful implementation of these initiatives. The University will play a key role in providing necessary training materials and equipment for the students' experiential learning, promoting a robust learning environment.

"This partnership with the University of Pretoria and reinforces Nestlé's commitment to youth empowerment and sustainable research and development in Africa," said Conny Sethaelo, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Director at Nestlé, East and Southern Africa Region. "We believe that fostering strong academic collaborations will drive innovation and lead to breakthrough solutions for the food industry."

By working together under this transformative MoU, Nestlé and UP strive to lead the way in shaping the future of food and nutrition research, education, and sustainability. This partnership aligns with Nestlé's global ambitions to positively impact society and promote responsible business practices.