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The Operation a Group iCheese reunites the major stakeholders involved in the Portuguese Traditional Cheese sector, more specifically the cheese coagulated with the aqueous extract from dried Cynara carunculus flowers.


Goals of i Cheese:

At the product level:

- Formulation of EcoCyn vegetable coagulant adequate for each of the DOP regions (Serra da Estrela, Beira Baixa, Nisa, Évora, Azeitão e Serpa);

- - Formulation of InovEcoCyn vegetable coagulant adequate for the design of new cheese produced from different types of milk (goat, sheep and cow) and their mixtures.

At the process level:

- Promote and characterize the culture of different cardoon ecotypes, as a complement or even replacement of the wild cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) which is endangered in Nature;

- Define the strategies for the processing of flowers at the hygiene, packaging and storage level guaranteeing the compliance with the food safety regulations for the coagulating enzymes.

At the Dissemination and Demonstration level

- Creation of the iCheese - Cynara Innovation web platform;

- Creation of the “Programa Itinerante de Ações de Disseminação e Demonstração” for the dissemination of the results in the milk sector.;

- Presentation in different types of Colloquia and Congresses from scientific to technical and general audience.


The Operational Group will also have impact on the Creative Industries, with the implementation of a contest for the development of the design for the package of EcoCyn and InovEcoCyn.

The participation in a Biotechnology center in Algeria, the Centre de Recherche en Biotechnologie - C.R.Bt (see protocol), which will use the EcoCyn and InovEcoCyn flower formulation, is an opportunity for the promotion of the transnational and international result dissemination.

Cooperation with the Klöckner - Pentaplast España, S.A.U. (see protocol), in the establishment of the packaging procedure for the flowers EcoCyn and InovEcoCyn, strengthens the internationalization potential of the iCheese results in the Iberian market, which is fundamental since Spain also produces cheese coagulated with cardoon flowers.

Globally the fulfilment of the goals of iCheese, will create conditions for the increase in competitiveness and innovation of SMEs in the dairy sector since:

- The reproducibility and quality of the final product (the traditional and new cheese) will be assured by the establishment of the standard clothing activity of specific cardoon ecotypes (EcoCyn) for which the profiles are established.

- A new vegetable coagulant (InovEcoCyn) will be available for innovation in the dairy sector fostering the design of “new” cheese for “new” consumers;

- The compliance of the EU regulation (CE) Nº1332/2008 on food hygiene and safety criteria applied in the traditional cheese sector, will be possible by the production of these new coagulant formulations.

Knowledge generated by the OG will lead to new business opportunities around the cardoon culture and the wide applications of its enzymes, namely:

- The biochemical richness of the natural biodiverse cardoon, an extremely resilient plant with multiple uses from human (oils) to animal nutrition, from several health and biotechnological applications as well as biomass production, has the potential to promote companies dedicated to the production of cardoon and its transformation/processing for the different uses;

- The sharing of information on cardoon, its ecotypes and applications in a web platform opens opportunities for innovation and business creation around the production of the plant and its application at the national and international levels.