Biotechnology is turning a traditionally low-tech industry (food) into a high-tech industry (functional food/nutraceuticals). There is a real need to enhance managerial understanding by clarifying the nature of innovation processes in the functional food industry, including the role of research and development (R&D) and collaboration. The present investigation focuses on a particular segment of the functional food industry, viz. marine-based nutraceuticals. We find that various hurdles thwart the fullest realization of the business potential of marine bio-actives in the pharmaceutical space. However, the innovation of commercially viable marine-based nutraceuticals/cosmeceuticals is yet possible if the extraction route for supply is a feasible fallback option, should industrial-scale synthesis prove elusive. Effectiveness in innovation is facilitated by the collaboration of various disciplines including epidemiology, traditional/folkloric medicine, aquaculture/fermentation, natural products chemistry, toxicology, and relevant strands of medical, pharmacological, and clinical research. In this regard, the inter-disciplinary field of ethno-pharmacology rises to prominence. Universities and government research institutes may be well positioned to drive such collaboration and reap the benefits from problem definition in addition to problem solving. Toward this end, the findings from the present study are integrated into a phased approach toward the innovation of commercially viable marine-based nutraceuticals that is targeted at entrepreneurs in this field.
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