Sandbox Sensory Testing Project with Meath Enterprise and Maynooth University

In October 2022, Meath Enterprise, and the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District (BVFID) collaborated with Maynooth University on a new project called Sandbox.

The purpose of the Sandbox project was to deliver industry relevant education in life sciences to a team of five students. Meath Enterprise has taken five fourth year degree students on a six-month placement to work in our own sensory testing and new product development facilities in the Boyne Valley Food Hub in Navan. This is a pilot project aimed at giving students practical skills in a workplace environment where they can learn to work collaboratively to solve real problems and/or deliver real projects for industry. 

Primarily the students, who have been with us for over 4 months now, have been working on delivering a sensory programme that is aimed at upskilling starter and medium sized SMEs.

As Meath enterprise will work with SMEs that will come from different backgrounds which may not be food related, they may lack the knowledge on how to complete sensory science effectively. It is our ambition at Meath enterprise to be able to help and gives constructive guidance to these SMEs to help them develop products that achieve the expected quality throughout product shelf life.

The expected outcome for the SME will be that they understand how to train a panel of testers and the importance of having a well-trained panel. They will also understand the different types of testing that can be completed and why you may pick one test over another. All aspects of the human sensory experience will be measured. This includes measuring and analysing the sight, smell (aroma), irritation, taste, texture/mouthfeel, and sound of what they are analysing.

So far in our journey the students have been researching ISO standards that are applicable to sensory science. This has led to the development of the sensory programme that we have been delivering to SMEs across the mid-east. We have met many companies who have welcomed this project and students into there facilities to learn how their business may use sensory science. Some of which are the teams at Chimac, Vanilla Bean Patisserie, A Bit on the Side & Thanks Plants.

Many thanks to all our collaborators who welcomed us into their facilities and were very open to knowledge sharing. Teagasc; Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR); Finnegan’s Farm; Complex Nutrition

 Over the final weeks of the project, we look forward to working with many more starter companies.