Nestlé launches R&D innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa
Nestlé has kicked off a Research and Development (R&D) innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of the company’s efforts to contribute to the local ‘innovation ecosystems’.
The challenge aims to 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 initiative that began 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 has partnered with Kinaya Ventures as part of the Spring Fellowship Program, which is designed to accelerate corporate start-up partnerships and catalyse digital entrepreneurship. The challenge also calls upon universities in Central and West African countries to submit solutions.
The selected teams will enter an accelerator program to help advance and potentially commercialise 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 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 UN’s 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.
The press release makes no mention of how this may play out in South Africa.