Market Trends

Open innovation: Taking a non-profit approach

09-Jan-2014 - By Caroline Scott-Thomas+
Interview of Conxa Romaguera Camarena - Community manager, Allfoodexperts
Open innovation: Taking a non-profit approach
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Open innovation can be expensive and time-consuming to manage – and many food companies are struggling to find the solutions they are looking for. Could a non-profit platform provide the keys to open innovation success?

It’s been a year since the launch of Allfoodexperts (AFE), a non-profit open innovation platform for the food industry that aims to connect small and medium-sized businesses with highly experienced R&D professionals.

FoodNavigator caught up with community manager Conxa Romaguera Camarena.

“Companies are finding it difficult to find solutions from their own platforms,” she said, adding that one of the important differentiators for those using the AFE platform is that everything is filtered – not just the challenges themselves, but also those applying to provide solutions.

“The first year has been focused on getting people inside the community. Now we are focused on getting companies launching their challenges on Allfoodexperts.”

The platform now has more than 160 registered experts, all of whom have undergone a screening process to ensure they have at least ten years’ experience and no existing contractual constraints.

Romaguera Camarena added that big companies may receive 200 answers to every challenge they propose on other platforms, so working with a select group of experts could be a significant time-saver.

The other major element that differentiates AFE from other platforms is that it is free to become a member and to post a challenge.

The platform was originally set up as a way to tap into the skills of the large number of R&D professionals over the age of 50 who had been forced into early retirement, as food and drink companies have looked for ways to cut costs. Many of these individuals have 30-plus years’ experience in the industry, and have worked for some of the biggest names in the business – including Cargill, CP Kelco, and Coca-Cola.

The platform is available online here.

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