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8 February, 2013 - 18:04 By Jamie Quested

Food giants seek Cambridge innovation

Institute for Manufacturing, Cambridge

International food industry influencers are sending innovation scouts to Cambridge UK for a pitching event as part of the Institute for Manufacturing’s open innovation initiative.

Innovators based within university departments could hook valuable funding if their pitches impress the food giants seeking technology solutions across a range of disciplines.

The big guns in the watch tower include Mars, Heinz, GSK, Unilever, Bacardi, Moy Park and General Mills plus packaging suppliers Crown and MeadWestvaco; ingredients and materials suppliers DSM, Cargill, Imerys and Tate & Lyle; process equipment suppliers Siemens and Domino and major design agency Webb deVlam.

Deadline to apply for pitching places is now Wednesday, February 13 for an event that takes place on March 11 at the Hauser Forum. Up to 15 researchers/innovators will be chosen to pitch to the companies.

The open innovation pitching event is targeted at researchers based in university departments who have an early-stage idea or concept that could be of interest to some of the world’s largest food and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies.

The companies have identified 40 areas of innovation they want help with across natural sciences, engineering (particularly materials and manufacturing), computer science and marketing.

Drilling down to specific opportunities, innovations are sought in new packaging materials, especially compostable ones; stem cell use; new ingredients to fight viruses; water quality solutions; food-state sensing inks; managing large datasets and ways to reach a media savvy younger generation market.

Innovators could get funding for their research; if they miss out on funding they could still secure an opportunity for industrial collaboration. It is free to enter.

The panel members to whom innovators and researchers will pitch are all senior leaders and decision-makers in their companies, whose main job role is to scout for and acquire innovation and technology from outside their organisations either through licensing, acquisition, research funding or other mechanisms.

You will find the full list of innovation areas at

More information about the OI Pitching Event, including a full list of the companies involved can be found at is an online form on which you can pitch by February 13.

• Image courtesy: IfM

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