Fonterra today (9 March) launched the Fonterra Ventures Co-Lab – an open platform designed to forge potential partnerships with “entrepreneurial individuals and businesses”, the New Zealand dairy giant said.

The platform “provides the opportunity for anyone, anywhere to collaborate with Fonterra on disruptive ideas for mutual benefit”, the company said. “Submissions could relate to any kind of disruptive innovation such as new business models, services, technologies or processes. Individuals, small businesses or large corporates around the world can submit game-changing concepts that the Fonterra Ventures team will review and then potentially partner on to scale and succeed together.”

Judith Swales, Fonterra’s chief operating officer for velocity and innovation, said: “Fonterra is fortunate to partner with some brilliant businesses in New Zealand and across the globe and we’re looking to join forces with them in increasingly innovative ways to accelerate growth and ultimately return more value to our farmers.

“We’re also actively looking outside our organisation and are open minded as to where that could lead us. Through Ventures Co-Lab we want to collaborate with innovators to think big and win big, together.”

The company said there “is no set formula for the type of relationship” to come out of the project, “but the ultimate goal is to build long-term partnerships with companies that will work in synergy with Fonterra”.

In addition to looking externally for innovative ideas, Fonterra said it is “cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship internally” through programmes like Disrupt. Fonterra claimed the Disrupt programme “harnesses the curiosity and talent of people within the organisation to create innovative businesses models. Staff are given the opportunity to submit ideas, proceed to a 12-week accelerator and potentially land a new day job if their concept is implemented within the business”.