IfM Briefing: Innovation for Food Security and Sustainability

25 June 2019, 17.30-20.00, The Crystal, London


Innovation for Food Security and Sustainability

How can innovation management strategies be used by food companies and their supply chains to address the issues around food security and sustainability?


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Agenda  |  17:30 - 20:00

Why attend?

This two-hour Briefing will bring together practitioners and researchers to discuss and share insights and best practice. Participants will leave with ideas, inspiration, priorities and strategies for implementation.

  • Hear from leading Cambridge academics on research into food security and sustainability, and practical implications for decision making in the food industry.
  • Discuss how food companies can lead the way in addressing global food challenges through strategies which also contribute to business objectives and build reputation.
  • Gain insights into innovation management, and how to harness approaches like open innovation.
  • Hear working examples of success stories from the food industry, shedding light on innovation in practice.
  • Have your voice heard in our panel discussion, share your experiences and network with industry peers.


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About the talks:


Talk 1: Innovation management in the food sector

Dominic Oughton & Professor Tim Minshall


What is ‘open innovation’ and how can a more collaborative approach to innovation be beneficial for organisations? Professor Tim Minshall will open the IfM Briefing by providing an introduction to the concepts of open innovation, a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use both internal and external ‘ideas’ and ‘paths’ to market.


The Open Innovation Forum, convened and facilitated by the Institute for Manufacturing, brings together organisations across the food and drink sector. The group includes major multinationals from across the industry, spanning the supply chain from ingredients and materials through processes and technology, to brand owners and retail. IfM Industrial Associate Dominic Oughton, who leads the Forum, will provide insights into how the consortium’s meetings help to stimulate innovative thinking, enabling members to discuss ideas and share best practice on innovation strategy.


Talk 2: Technology-enabled transformation in food supply chains

Dr Jag Srai


How sustainable are our online food shopping baskets?  Dr Jag Srai will explore the impact and implications of our changing habits in how we purchase food. He will consider three main areas:

  • Within developed markets, there are clearly benefits to consumers of the convenience and speed of online grocery shopping, but is this unchecked consumerism environmentally sustainable? Do digital platforms provide new opportunities to connect consumers with their local retailers and farmers offering personalisation, a more informed shopping basket and less waste?
  • Within developing markets, how can economic development be supported in a sustainable way? Jag will consider the issues around building attractive markets for farmers without compromising available resources, including technology solutions such as precision agriculture.
  • At a global level, there is a major challenge for the food sector to capture resource transfers and ensure authenticity/quality. How can industry players provide confidence to consumers and use resources more sustainably?


Talk 3: Resilient systems to deliver better nutrition

Dr Mukesh Kumar


What potential is there for the food sector to use data more effectively for decision-making to build resilient systems and deliver better nutrition? Dr Mukesh Kumar’s talk will start by showing the benefits and age-old challenges of global food supply chains. It will then provide three studied challenges – food safety (grapes, fish), food wastage (potatoes) and food shortage (climate change).


One of the key barriers for the food industry in addressing these challenges is the gap between data architecture and decision making. How can data be used by companies not only to make operations more efficient and supply chains more resilient, but also to make a shift in the strategic objectives of industry players and policymakers from satisfying human hunger to providing nutrition?


Talk 4: Sustainable innovation – radical ways to get the most out of the food production system

Professor Steve Evans & Gary Punter


How efficient could most manufacturers become at reasonable cost? If manufacturers moved just half way from their current resource usage towards the usage of the most efficient companies in their own industry, research indicates that the impact in manufacturing would be 12% increased profit, 15% more jobs and 5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.


In his talk, Professor Steve Evans from the Centre for Industrial Sustainability will ask ’how good is good?’ – how do manufacturers know what is possible for them to achieve in terms of improved use of resources? Steve argues that zero waste to landfill is an old target, and that 7% energy reduction year-on-year is feasible… But how?


Steve will be joined by industry expert Gary Punter, formerly head of innovation at AB Sugar. Gary will provide insights into how AB Sugar reconstructed its Wissington plant with a relentless focus on efficiency and no waste, and his challenge and aspiration to spread ‘no waste’ and ‘agile’ to other sectors and countries. 



About the speakers:


Professor Steve Evans

Steve has over 20 years of academic experience which includes working collaboratively with leading industrial and academic institutions from around the globe and supervising over 120 PhD. and MSc. students. His research seeks a deep understanding of how industry develop solutions that move us towards a sustainable future.


Related content: Industrial sustainability: paradox or paradigm? By Professor Steve Evans




Dr Mukesh Kumar

Mukesh's research has included food product safety management from developed and developing country perspectives, risk evaluation in pharmaceutical supply, and environment sustainability assessment in global supply networks in four sectors - food, pharmaceuticals, automotive and aerospace. His research continues to focus on sustainability and resilience.


Related content: Thought for foodby Dr Mukesh Kumar



Professor Tim Minshall

Tim's research, teaching and engagement activities are focused on the links between manufacturing and innovation. Since joining the University of Cambridge in 2002, he has played a very active role in the development of innovation and technology management activities across the University. He also works closely with companies in the Cambridge cluster.


Related content: Growing innovative minds: blog by Tim Minshall



Dominic Oughton

Dominic's role involves leading projects with partner companies aimed at putting IfM research output into practice. His main focus of activity is in developing winning business and technology strategies to meet the needs of government and corporate organisations. He also leads IfM’s practice activities in the area of Open Innovation and heads the Open Innovation Forum in the FMCG Value Chain.


Related content: The problem of plastic: Dominic Oughton leads OI Forum workshop addressing sustainable packaging



Gary Punter 

Prior to joining Cambridge as a Visiting Fellow, Gary had 34 years of technology leadership in agri-manufacturing, predominantly with AB Sugar (an Associated British Foods FTSE 100 company). Gary has particular expertise in developing diversified 'no waste' bio refineries producing food, feed, alcohol, bioenergy & biochemicals from agricultural crops.




Dr Jag Srai

Jag and his research team at the IfM bring an engineering and strategic operations management perspective to the design, analysis and operation of international supply chains and the impact of advanced production and digital technologies. Through major collaborations with industry, his research findings have directly underpinned major organisational change.


Related content: Interview with Jag Srai, newly appointed Co-Chair of Cambridge Global Food Security




Who should attend?

  • Food and drink industry decision-makers.
  • Innovators with interests in the food sector.
  • Technology providers working in the food sector.
  • Sustainability experts.
  • Supply chain professionals from across the sector.
  • Researchers with interests in food security and sustainability.
  • Policymakers in business, manufacturing and the food sector.



This Briefing will be held at The Crystal in London, co-located with the annual Food Tech Matters 


“The Food Tech Matters series of events is fun, fast-paced and energetic and offers something a little bit different.” A meet-up between the food tech startups, corporates, accelerators and investors to share the latest food tech trends and developments and forge strategic partnerships.



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IfM Briefing Series


This event is part of the IfM Briefing Series, thought-provoking events that tackle real challenges. 


Each event is tailored to a defined audience, focussing on a specific topic, bringing together expertise in that topic to address common challenges in manufacturing.


View the rest of the series > 






For further information please contact:

IfM Events

T: 01223 766141


Event location

Venue: The Crystal, Royal Victoria Dock, One Siemens Brothers Way, Royal Docks, London E16 1GB


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