Nestlé launches a Research and Development innovation challenge in SA

DURBAN – Nestlé has launched a Research and Development (R&D) innovation challenge in South Africa as part of the company’s 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 challenge spans across six African countries, namely Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal as well as 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.

Ravi Pillay, Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region Spokesperson said, "Nestlé has been operating in South Africa for 103 years and part of our sustainable growth can be attributed to reinventing ourselves in these dynamic and evolving times.  The innovation challenge is part of our R&D efforts to accelerate the innovation of products that meet local consumer needs in collaboration with various stakeholders".

To engage with local start-ups, Nestlé collaborated 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.

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.

"We have taken a number of steps to accelerate innovation of products and services that meet consumer demands and trends.  For example, we are more responsive to consumer trends and adjusting our portfolio accordingly. We are enhancing our fast prototyping capabilities across our R&D sites, implementing fast-tracking on promising projects and leveraging our size and scale for quick in-market testing," said Pillay.

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 collaborated 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.

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