01 Jun Innovation hubs: Grouping talent and pushing ideation in agri-food
Innovation is no longer an option in the agri-food industry when the sector faces huge global challenges. But it is expensive. It requires a large investment and the return is hard to obtain, especially in a short term. Therefore, more and more agri-food companies look at start-ups for solutions. Some of them are still in the very early stages but have great potential as strategic partners. Large companies need to grasp new ideas and talents and lots of new innovation hubs are arising in the sector both independent or boosted by consolidated brands.
In “Learning from innovation hubs”, Gryszkiewicz and Frederici state that the idea of fostering innovation through ideas sharing in open co-working spaces, instead of enclosed R&D departments is what makes innovation hubs powerful. They are a source of brand new ideas and many companies have already understood it. Take Unilever, among the ten giants of food, with its Unilever Foundry, a platform for innovators and startups where partners can also apply for mentorship of their sponsor. Or Procter & Gamble, one of the pioneer firms in Open Innovation. Through its platform Connect+Develop, they externally search solutions in fields far away from their core business such as e-commerce or packaging, and new talent to help them jump the disruption curve. The coffee giant Starbucks is gathering ideas about serving, product or decoration among their own consumers through My Starbucks Idea. This cloud-talent model innovation hub allows them obtain fresh ideas while engaging consumers.
Without patronage, more and more independent innovation hubs are also arising in the agri-food industry. Professionals want their own creative space outside corporations and they join in communities or co-working spaces. Smart Food Paris, for example, is an innovation platform created for helping local food startups to grow and improve its processes in a sustainable way. Another similar project, Indie Food Hub, is orchestrated as a collaborative community of small food pioneers who “want to do things differently” by creating a resource centre and cooperation space for startups launching innovative ideas. And, of course, our community, allfoodexperts® , a space of cooperation between big companies, startups and professionals of agri food and beverage sector.