Finnish food group Fazer is attempting to instil a spirit of cooperation in the food industry with the development of an “open innovation ecosystem”.
Fazer believes cooperation between start-ups, investors, researchers and big organisations will create “new growth opportunities for the entire food industry”.
The bakery-to-confectionery group has developed an open innovation ecosystem around its Brainhow research and development programme, comprising researchers, start-ups and large companies.
The system offers larger partner companies and other parties opportunities to network and find collaboration partners as well as to conduct discussions to promote development and to increase the global impact and social significance of innovation.
“A more open and collaborative innovation approach can produce cross-disciplinary new growth opportunities for the entire food industry, Christoph Vitzthum, the company’s president and CEO, said.
“We are now inviting companies and other players in the field to come together and build a new ecosystem to enable the renewal of the food industry. Together, we can promote socially significant and sustainable innovations.”
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Fazer wants to co-create a “globally interesting innovation platform around food and food technology in northern Europe.” The aim is to bring new and internationally interesting innovations to market more quickly by combining the resources of the different players.
Päivi Juolahti, head of renewal and a director of Fazer, told just-food there is no cost involved for food businesses that would like to sign up to the venture.
“There are some sporadic open innovation initiatives happening in the industry, but we feel that together, by joining our forces, we can achieve bigger impact,” she said.
“Through an active ecosystem we can create a fruitful platform for innovation making it easier for start-ups to find partners and investors. For more established players, such as Fazer, we gain access to game-changing ideas, new thinking and technologies that renew the food industry.
“I think the need for open innovation is a result of the fact that companies cannot solely rely on their own assets and skills in innovation. The competencies and resources are widely spread and it’s no more possible for companies to own all resources required.”
The Helsinki-based firm’s own recent product innovations include root vegetable bread, where 30% of the flour was replaced by greens.
Fazer had net sales of EUR1.6 bn (US$1.82bn) in 2016 and employs nearly 15,000 people.