EPNOE: the European Polysaccharide network of Excellence

Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research is a leading member of EPNOE, the European Polysaccharide Network of Excellence. EPNOE is a research and education network for exchange of knowledge . This network connects 16 top-ranked universities and research centres in Europe, a variety of multinational to small companies (focusing on the areas where polysaccharide and polysaccharide-related products are used) and several other academic and research institutes working on or interested in polysaccharides.

EPNOE welcomes companies and academic institutions from all over the world with an interest in polysaccharides or track record in polysaccharide research and development to join its network.

Main goals

EPNOE's main objectives are:

  • to offer a networking platform enabling close interactions between members in order to support innovation, boost knowledge exchange and organise R&D activities in an absolute confidential manner;
  • to organise basic and applied research for the study of fundamental concepts, test new ideas and develop new products based on or containing polysaccharides;
  • to organise education in polysaccharide science at the level of continuing education for companies and of post-graduate students and post-docs.

Three types of members

The EPNOE Association has three types of members: regular members, business and industry club (BIC) members and associate members.  Regular members (the 16 initial academic and research organisations) are responsible for the overall management of the network. Business and Industry Club (BIC) members, exclusively consisting of companies, use the services and interaction channels of EPNOE. Associate members, a membership type establishes in 2014, can be any type of legal organization (except companies). These members have no management responsibility and no obligation to attend General Assembly meetings or Boards. Associate members are typically ‘associated’ to specific EPNOE activities.

Working in a broad area: from food to bioplastics

EPNOE is working in the broad area where polysaccharides or polysaccharide-based chemicals and products are being used. This area includes many different fields, such as health, food, cosmetics, pharma, construction, chemicals, transport, pulp and paper, bioplastics, chemical engineering, packaging, biotechnology, fuels, additives and environmental assessments. The scientific expertise of the 16 academic and research members covers the main fields of knowledge that are necessary for inventing, characterizing, describing, developing and evaluating new ideas, new materials, new products and/or new applications. Regular international conferences are organized in association with the American Chemical Society  (ACS), where the outstanding polysaccharide scientists present their work and exchange ideas. 

Research and development strategy

The R&D strategy of EPNOE is based on three pillars:

  • Bio-assembly: research on how the natural structures (plants, trees, exoskeletons, animal tissues) containing polysaccharides are organised
  • Dis-assembly: how can we isolate the different polysaccharides or groups of polysaccharides in efficient, environment-friendly and cheap ways?
  • Re-assembly: how can we invent and develop new materials out of polysaccharides 


EPNOE has the ambition to expand the EPNOE leadership in new areas, such a health and food. The American Chemical Society (ACS) who is associated with EPNOE, has three important project objectives have been identified for the near future:

  • expanding EPNOE activities towards health-related materials and products
  • expanding EPNOE activities towards food-related materials and products
  • improving and increasing partnerships with industries, including SMEs and boosting innovation and knowledge exchange