Nestlé has kicked off a Research and Development (R&D) innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of its efforts to contribute to the local innovation ecosystem. The challenge will help boost local entrepreneurship, as well as provide a platform for start-ups and universities to contribute to local sustainable growth by bringing breakthrough ideas to the market.
The R&D innovation challenge which kicked off today in Ghana, will also take place in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. The goal is to work collaboratively with start-ups and universities to identify sustainable and scalable science and technology solutions that help to accelerate the innovation of products that meet local consumer needs. The R&D innovation challenge calls for novel solutions across four areas: environmentally friendly packaging solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, affordable nutrition and new routes to market.
Stefan Palzer, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer said, “There is a growing number of Africa-based entrepreneurs and local researchers with creative ideas to address issues facing their communities. This R&D innovation challenge presents for our company an exceptional opportunity to leverage the outstanding creativity, while helping to turn the most promising ideas into reality.”
To engage with local start-ups, Nestlé partnered with Kinaya Ventures as part of the Spring Fellowship Program, which is designed to accelerate corporate start-up partnerships and catalyze digital entrepreneurship. The challenge also calls upon universities in Central and West African countries to submit solutions.
In a press conference in Accra to kick start the multi country roadshow, Philomena Tan, Managing Director of Nestlé Ghana said, “with multi-stakeholder collaborations through innovation, scientific research and development backed by the right resources and the needed engagement, local consumer needs including affordable nutrition, sustainable agricultural produce and environmental friendly packaging are attainable” she encouraged start-up businesses and students of universities to participate in the innovation challenge.
The selected teams will enter an accelerator program to help advance and potentially commercialize their ideas. During the accelerator, the start-up and university teams will have access to Nestlé’s R&D expertise and infrastructure at the R&D Centre in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, including shared labs, kitchens and pilot-testing equipment. At the end of the accelerator, teams will have the opportunity to pitch their proof of concept to Nestlé management.
The Innovation & Renovation Champion and the Business Executive Officer, Culinary of Nestle Central and West Africa, Dominique Allier, emphasized the importance of the innovation challenge, he said, “we launched the Research & Development innovation challenge, which will span the six 6 countries to further accelerate innovation which is core to bring to live Nestlé’s purpose of “enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future”.
The R&D innovation challenge is part of Nestlé’s Global Youth Initiative which has an ambition to help 10 million young people around the world have access to economic opportunities by 2030. This supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.
In 2018, Nestlé also partnered with Ashoka and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to create the Social Investment Accelerator, which accelerates social entrepreneurship and boosts economic development of Africa.
Nestlé has the world’s largest private food and nutrition research organization, involving about 5,000 people in around 30 R&D centers worldwide, including the R&D Center in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, which opened in 2008. With nutrition at its core, Nestlé R&D is committed to make the Nestlé portfolio even tastier and healthier, to fulfil its purpose of enhancing quality of life of people and contributing to a healthier future. In 2018, Nestlé invested about CHF 1.7 billion in R&D.