Food and FMCG giants call for innovators to pitch their ideas

Major food and FMCG companies such as Unilever, General Mills, Tate & Lyle and Crown Packaging are seeking small commercial or university-based organisations which could provide innovative solutions to business challenges.

Up to 15 researchers, innovators and technology developers from the UK and beyond will have the chance to pitch their ideas to the Open Innovation (OI) Forum at the Food & FMCG Innovation Pitching Event, to be held on Monday 11 March 2013 at the Hauser Forum, Cambridge.

The event is free to enter and all participating pitches will be circulated to OI Forum members, whether they are shortlisted or not. Winners will receive a certificate and trophy, as well as the opportunity to present their ideas and products in front of a panel of key decision-makers and ‘innovation scouts’ from important food and FMCG firms.

The University of Cambridge Open Innovation Forum was set up in 2010 by IfM Education and Consultancy Services (IfM ECS), the dissemination arm of the Institute for Manufacturing, to explore issues around open innovation. The Forum is composed of senior professionals from companies involved in some aspect of the food and FMCG sectors, who recognise that in order to innovate they need to look outside their own organisations.

Collectively, they have identified key areas for which they need innovation partners:

  • Life sciences – including ingredients, health, food safety, preservatives and synthetic biology
  • Materials – including packaging materials, waste reduction and sustainability
  • Manufacturing – including customisation, batch-of-one and novel food processing
  • IT / electronics – including smart packaging, communications, tagging & ID and E-science
  • Marketing and business models – including social media, digital marketing and new business models

Companies that want to apply must do so online by 13 February, and the shortlisted candidates will be notified by 8 February. After the pitches, the panel will choose winners in categories for University and Commercial (spin-out, start-up and SME) organisations.

Applicants must own the rights to the technology which, in turn, must:

  • Fall into one of the five innovation areas listed above and address one or more of the Forum’s ‘innovation needs’;
  • In the opinion of the judges, be new or clearly innovative, or represent a significant step forward in technology or in an application;
  • Be suitable for further commercialisation.

The pitching event is being supported by ideaSpace, an enterprise hub providing office space and opportunities to innovators and ventures from across the region.

For more information on the event, including a complete list of the OI Forum’s 40 ‘innovation needs’, and the online application form, visit:




Media contact:
Samantha Selvini
Marketing and Communications Officer
IfM Education and Consultancy Services
T: 44 (0)1223 766141


Contact for the OI Forum:
Dominic Oughton, Principal Industrial Fellow, IfM ECS
T: +44 (0) 1613 007237

Date published

11 December 2012

Share This