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Nestlé has launched an R&D accelerator the company said is intended to “drive [the] innovation and speed-to-market of sustainable dairy products, as well as plant-based dairy alternatives”.

Located at the food giant’s R&D centre in Konolfingen in western Switzerland, the accelerator will allow start-ups, students and scientists to “leverage Nestlé’s unique dairy and plant protein expertise to quickly bring products from ideation to commercialisation”.

Nestlé said start-ups can apply to be part of the accelerator at any time, as applications are evaluated on an ongoing basis.

The company stressed the scheme is about providing access not financial support.

“We are currently recruiting our first projects for start-ups and student,” a spokesperson told just-food. “The R&D accelerator in Konolfingen is part of our global R&D accelerator initiative which started in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2019 and has already hosted several start-ups and students.”

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Konolfingen is the company’s largest research and development centre for dairy products and plant-based dairy alternatives. It develops new product concepts for Nestlé’s dairy and infant nutrition businesses before they are introduced to the market.

Mark Schneider, Nestlé’s CEO, said, “Innovation in milk products and plant-based dairy alternatives is core to Nestlé’s portfolio strategy, as well as our sustainability agenda. As a company, we have set ambitious climate goals. This is part of our promise to develop products that are good for you and good for the planet.”

The R&D accelerator in Konolfingen features a test kitchen, as well as a co-working office space.

The company said “internal, external and mixed teams will leverage Nestlé’s capabilities to bring novel ideas from concept to test shop in only six months”.

They will have access to production equipment to facilitate the upscaling of products for a test launch in a retail environment.

Thomas Hauser, head of global product and technology development at Nestlé, said: “Our goal is to provide start-ups, students and Nestlé scientists with key resources to quickly explore new ideas through a six-month test-and-learn approach.”

just-food Guide: Hatching new ideas – Big Food’s incubator and accelerator programmes