Dublin, Ireland 29th February – 1st March
In February we attended the 10th edition of the World Food Technology & Innovation Forum (www.foodinnovate.com). A vital event in technology and innovation for the food industry.
The event, organized by WTG (World Trade Group), gathered many experts and the key companies of the industry for two days in Dublin. More than 15 presentations gave a complete view on trends, best practices, challenges, threats, opportunities and strategies related to innovation and development in the food sector.
The presentations were highly valuable. For instance; Kraft foods talked about the combination between innovation and sustainability, McCormick centered its speech on taking the actual market demand together with the constant technology improvement to innovate and many other examples as Sara Lee, which opted for innovation through passion and team working.
Most of the presentations focused in collaboration as a strategy to innovate and to achieve significant growth figures. In this sense, Roger Leech (Open Innovation Portfolio & Scouting director at Unilever), Iain Moore (Open Innovation Specialist of Arla Foods) and Joe Healy jointly Jens Bleiel (Department Manager Dairy at Enterprise Ireland and CEO of Food for Health) explained in detail how their organizations have been directed towards the open innovation and described their strategies and opinion concerning the future in this field.
Unilever talked about the importance of stimulating open innovation and therefore be capable to get new ideas from both inside and outside the organization; looking for solutions, growing due to outside expertise and at the end, measure the success by the number of the ideas integrated in the business, which is the main objective. The origin of the idea is not the important issue but the idea itself.
We liked Arla Foods who showed us that using new collaborative partnerships with specialized chefs to bring new artisanal products to the market helped them reach new customers and new demands. They settled a clear idea which was that taking advantage from the open innovation, in order to power the innovation process, can make us come up with new and high specialized gamma products.
Enterprise Ireland and Food for Health shared the point about the importance of emphasizing association between Industry and Academia, which is probably the best way to stay competitive in the situation we are living nowadays. There is constantly an innovation race where all companies should try to be at the top; a way to achieve it is by the collaboration between those two sectors. The Food for Health case was a clear illustration of their proposal.
We have to note the participation in the event of the two chairmen; Ian Noble -Senior R&D Director at Pepsico- and Joe Healy –Department Manager Dairy of Enterprise Ireland- who both made a brief but interesting introduction to the field.
This event is clearly a unique opportunity to meet, interact and establish new business opportunities and collaboration with experts from all over the world. Those who could not attend this edition do not miss the coming one in the year 2013.