Innovation Hub: Interview with the team from Matis

27 Oct 2021

SIMBA is an innovation action (IA) project, meaning the project’s actions consist of activities that directly aim to produce plans, arrangements or designs for new, altered or improved products and processes. Within the consortium, we have industry and SME partners who are expected to be direct end users of these products and processes. For each e-newsletter we chat with one of our industry partners to get an industry perspective of the project and how they expect the outputs of the project will be applied. For this issue, we interviewed project partner Alexandra Klonowski from Matís, to find out more about the organisation and their role in the project.

Tell us about Matís?

Matís is a government-owned food and biotechnology R&D institute comprised of around 100 employees and with headquarters in Reykjavík, Iceland. As a non-profit company, all our profits will be re-invested. We receive some direct funding from the government, around 20% of our total budget, but mostly finance ourselves through national and international research grants and direct collaborations with industrial partners, both in Iceland and abroad. We also offer analytical services for private and public customers.

Matís’ research focusses on three topics: Value creation for the Icelandic industry and nation, food safety and public health. Our work in SIMBA fits perfectly into the value creation remit as we focus on characterizing and developing microbiomes for various food industry applications. Matís has both a broad range of expertise and state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to support work in the areas of fisheries research and management, traceability, markets, processing technology, product development, environmental research (across the diverse Icelandic environments including marine, freshwater, soil, volcanoes & lava fields, glaciers, geothermal springs, and the deep sea), genetics, aquaculture, biotechnology, microbiological & chemical analyses, sensory evaluation and consulting. Through these activities, Matís tries to be an important bridge between academia and industry by transferring research results into applications, services and products.

What is Matís’ role in the SIMBA project?

We are mainly involved in WP 3 where we use high-throughput sequencing to analyse the microbial communities in various samples that other partners send us, from algal samples to fish gut microbiota or biofilms. We do the DNA extraction together with our colleagues from NIOZ, sequence the samples and identify the microorganisms based on their sequence. Then we work with the respective partners to try and understand how this diversity is linked to their experiments and trials. Recently, we have also started the same kind of analyses for colleagues in WP2 for their samples. In addition, we also work on method development, trying to apply a new sequencing technology in the field / directly at the producer’s sites.

Why did Matís get involved in the project?

The scope of the SIMBA project aligns with Matís´ vision to increase the sustainable value of food processing and food production through research. We want to be a part of new innovations in this field and believe that we can contribute with our broad expertise and resources.

Can you describe some of the key innovations that you think will result from activities within the project?

We think that the new knowledge that SIMBA creates regarding the characterisation and application of microbiomes in aqua- and agriculture should not be underestimated. While maybe not innovations or tangible products by themselves, these insights will be the basis for further research projects and follow-up products to come. As for potential innovations that our project could produce, we are excited by the prospect of creating new, adapted microbiomes that increase productivity and food quality.


Image 1. Matis offices in Reykjavik