Webinar: the power of open innovation

We recently launched our series of international webinars where we delve into the main challenges facing our food system during the crisis and welcome some of the most disruptive companies in the foodtech space to offer their insights and solutions. This week we were joined by two companies at each end of the value chain; Mondelez International  as a manufacturer and Sainsbury’s as a retailer, in our latest webinar episode  “Accelerating Food Industry Growth: The power of Open Innovation”. We hosted Gil Horsky – Director of Innovation Snacks Futures at Mondelēz International and Milena Lazarevska – Head of Future Brands at Sainsbury’s who offered insights into the keys to collaboration between corporates and startups, as well as the plethora of benefits for both sides. 

Our partners at Eatable Adventures believe that startups are one of the main agents leading the new food revolution, as the food system is changing so is consumer demand, and during the current crisis it seems to be happening at unprecedented rates. To properly embrace these new challenges and offer viable solutions powering open innovation between corporates and startups is an efficient way to whether the shifts appropriately.


How companies engage with startups 

  • There are a number of ways that startups can engage with corporates across the food chain, including through technology advancement, investments and licencing agreements.

Positive outcomes from startup/corp collaborations 

  • Collaborations are win-win as corps attract more customers while offering incremental sales for young companies.
  • Startups address consumer pain points and establish retailers as a destination for more exclusive and distinctive brands. 
  • Corps gain increased consumer attraction & quick answers to new demand while startups gain their first taste of commercialisation and market traction.

Working with startups in a crisis

  • The key is to “be a good partner” – be flexible where possible and offer more preferential payment terms. Show you are committed to your partnership even during difficult times.
  • When working together ensure you “set up the relationship in the way you have a big chance of success” – for example, be clear on your objectives, KPIs and future plans. 
  • Transparency is the biggest gift – be honest with the startup, if their idea isn’t viable, don’t waste their time. 
  • Covid19 has undeniably accelerated a shift in trends and companies need to respond quickly. New trends include immune boosting, e-commerce, well-being, food safety and traceability and digitisation across the supply chain. 
  • Solution? Find the relevant startups that can help you accelerate these trends in your company. 
  • “Its okay to ask for help in a crisis” – corps should reach out to the ecosystem and scope the startups already working on potential solutions. 


Startup contributions 

  • Sustainability remains as important as ever and as corps become more socially and environmentally responsible they need to rely on startups across the supply chain to help them with their efforts and introduce more sustainable operations at small scale.
  • Smaller companies hold access to alternative supply chains – especially during a crisis when larger companies suffer staff shortages and logistics constraints. 
  • Consumers are interacting more with new brands and spend more time in-store scouting innovative products.
  • Working with startups creates an “inspirational” and “cultural” shift in larger teams. Small teams offer an injection of agility and new motivation to stagnant working environments.


Missed the webinar? Check out the video below:


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