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11 December, 2012 - 14:18 By News Desk

Food giants in Cambridge open innovation move


Global food and FMCG companies – such as Unilever, General Mills, Tate & Lyle and Crown Packaging – have chosen Cambridge UK as the launchpad for a new technology initiative.

They are seeking small commercial or university-based organisations which could provide innovative solutions to present and future business challenges.

Up to 15 researchers, innovators and technology developers from the UK and beyond will have the chance to pitch their ideas to the Open Innovation (OI) Forum at the Food & FMCG Innovation Pitching Event, to be held on Monday March 11, 2013 at the Hauser Forum, Cambridge.

The event is free to enter and all participating pitches will be circulated to OI Forum members, even if they are not shortlisted. Winners will receive a certificate and trophy as well as the opportunity to present their ideas and products in front of a panel of key decision makers and ‘innovation scouts’ from important food and FMCG firms.

The University of Cambridge Open Innovation Forum was set up in 2010 by IfM Education and Consultancy Services (IfM ECS), the dissemination arm of the Institute for Manufacturing, to explore issues around open innovation.

The Forum comprises senior professionals from companies involved in some aspect of the food and FMCG sectors, who recognise that in order to innovate they need to look outside their own organisations.

Collectively, they have identified key areas for which they need innovation partners:-

• Life sciences – including ingredients, health, food safety, preservatives and synthetic biology

• Materials – including packaging materials, waste reduction and sustainability

• Manufacturing – including customisation, batch-of-one and novel food processing

• IT/electronics – including smart packaging, communications, tagging & ID and E-science

• Marketing and business models – including social media, digital marketing and new business models

Companies keen to apply must do so online by January 31, 2013, and the shortlisted candidates will be notified by February 8. After the pitches, the panel will choose winners in categories for University and Commercial (spin-out, start-up and SME) organisations.

Applicants must own the rights to the technology which, in turn, must:

• Fall into one of the five innovation areas listed above and address one or more of the Forum’s ‘innovation needs’

• In the opinion of the judges, be new or clearly innovative, or represent a significant step forward in technology or in an application

• Be suitable for further commercialisation

The pitching event is being supported by ideaSpace, an enterprise hub providing office space and opportunities to innovators and ventures from across the region.

For more information on the event, including a complete list of the OI Forum’s 40 ‘innovation needs’, and the online application form, visit:

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