Innovation Insider: An interview with Mr. Peter Navarro, Global Open Innovation Manager at FrieslandCampina

We are tracking down Innoget users in the world's most amazing companies to discover their thoughts on open innovation, where they see open innovation is headed, and learn more about how is the innovation culture within their organization.

Therefore, this month we interviewed Mr. Peter Navarro, Global Open Innovation Manager at FrieslandCampina, the Dutch multinational dairy cooperative with products that make a difference in the lives of millions of people every single day.

At a glance, Royal FrieslandCampina produces and sells consumer products such as dairy-based beverages, infant nutrition, cheese and desserts in many European countries, Asia and Africa. Dairy products and BtB ingredients are also exported worldwide from the Netherlands. The company has branch offices in 33 countries and employs just under 24,000 people.

Peter, can you briefly describe your role within FrieslandCampina and how do you define open innovation?

At FrieslandCampina Open Innovation is based within the Corporate R&D team. As a Global Open Innovation Manager, I lead a team of representatives from the innovation units of all our business groups. Together we ensure that our R&D professionals have the right skills to make external collaborations a success for all parties involved. And we scout and attract new innovation opportunities with a focus on new ingredient, packaging and process technologies for the dairy industry.

Open innovation includes all innovation collaborations with suppliers, academia, customers, startups and other external partners to mutually benefit from complementary capabilities and know-how. We include the whole spectrum from pre-competitive fundamental research to joint implementation of new technologies in our dairy processing factories.

Peter Navarro, Global Open Innovation Manager at FrieslandCampina / Innoget, Peter Navarro

Where do you see open innovation headed and how do you think organizations can prepare for where it is going?

Nowadays, knowledge is getting widely distributed across the globe. Therefore, companies can no longer rely entirely on their own R&D teams. Companies like us must be able to effectively access the best expertise worldwide to remain competitive. Collaboration with innovative startup companies will be increasingly important if we want to bring science and ideas in a fast way into practice.

Although it still makes sense to travel and meet potential innovation partners in conferences and other network events, digitization can make partner scouting more efficient. Consultancy companies use smart IT tools to quickly find potential innovation partners. And technology exchange platforms like Innoget make it easier to connect supply and demand.

Based on your expertise, what are the key elements to implement a successful open innovation strategy?

In order to be successful in open innovation, I see two elements that need to be in place.

- First, we need to establish the right skills and entrepreneurial mindset internally across the company. Our people constantly need to be on the lookout for external solutions and they must be able to effectively set up new partnerships. Strategic innovation alliances need to be managed in a professional way in order to realize the benefits for all parties involved.

- The second element is to position ourselves as an attractive partner to the outside world. This starts by playing a visible role in relevant innovation ecosystems and by contributing to mutual positive experiences in our open innovation projects and networks.

In order to generate a constant stream of new leads for open innovation, we need to actively attract and scout external solutions to our innovation challenges.

What is the open innovation culture like in your organizations?

Although with 500+ R&D professionals FrieslandCampina is not a small company, we still can't cover all technologies by ourselves. We realize that we have a lot of knowledge and competencies in-house, but to be successful with innovation we need complementary knowledge in the world around us.

Partnerships can help us to deliver our innovations to the market faster and more efficiently. Being a farmer's cooperative since 1871, FrieslandCampina understands like no other the added value of partnering to achieve joint value creation.

Currently, we have open innovation projects with over 100 partner organizations.

Can you share anything about how Innoget helps open innovation activities?

Innoget helps us to draw attention to our innovation challenges, attracting external parties to share their innovative solutions. We noticed that via innoget we are approached by different parties than the ones that contact us via our own FrieslandCampina Open Innovation portal.