The R+D Accelerator is part of the Cheerios maker's wider R+D Accelerator network launched in 2019, designed to enable local startups and students to work with Nestlé’s experts to bring highly differentiated innovations to life.
The participants are given full access to Nestlé’s state-of-the-art research facility in Lausanne, using early trends, differentiating technologies and scientific discoveries to develop innovative product solutions. They are given hands-on support from Nestlé’s experts in the technology, nutrition, regulatory, food safety, design and packaging sectors.
They also receive unmatched insight into the company’s business expertise – along with mentoring from Nestlé's senior management – to bring products to market fast.
“We give internal and external entrepreneurs full access to all the expertise and infrastructure they need to translate their idea into a product – from analytical labs, experimental kitchens, to prototyping and production facilities – and we help them test their innovations in real-market conditions,” said Tom Wagner, head of the Nestlé R+D Accelerator programme.
Nestlé’s global R+D Accelerator network today comprises 12 sites in eight countries, each focused on a specific product category – ranging from nutrition to confectionery and dairy – or region, including China, India, the US and Sub-Saharan Africa, among others. Since 2019, 165 participants have participated in the programme, with almost 80 products tested in 18 countries. According to the company, it is planning to expand to more sites to trial 100-150 projects annually.
A Nestlé spokesperson said that “open innovation is an integral part of the company’s R&D set-up.” In addition to accelerating the innovation process, the mission is to foster an entrepreneurial culture across the company’s business.
“We give start-ups the opportunity to further develop their concepts while leveraging infrastructure and expertise. This collaboration is equity free,” said the spokesperson.
Mothership of the network
The recently inaugurated site in Lausanne – the so-called ‘mothership’ of the company’s R+D Accelerator network – is set up to focus on cross-category innovations. The largest of its type, the centre covers 4,000m2 with co-working stations, prototyping kitchens and mini-production facilities. It can host up to 10 teams simultaneously within a ‘sophisticated innovation ecosystem’.
“At our R+D Accelerators, we combine the creativity and entrepreneurship of students, start-ups and intrapreneurs with Nestlé's extensive scientific and technological expertise,” said Stefan Palzer, Nestlé chief technology officer.
“The initiative creates learning opportunities for both internal and external talents, builds competencies and fosters an entrepreneurial culture across our sites. It is great to see the passion and excitement of the teams as they go from an idea to a test launch in just a few months, overcoming many different challenges along the way.”
If there is a mutual interest in continuing the upon completion of the programme, Nestlé will consider a new collaboration partnership that could include participation or licensing IP or both.