Nestlé on Thursday 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.
Nestlé’s goal is to work collaboratively with startups and universities to identify sustainable and scalable science and technology solutions that will help accelerate the development of products that meet local consumer needs.
The R&D innovation challenge is seeking novel solutions across four areas – environment- friendly packaging solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, affordable nutrition and new routes to market.
The challenge is aimed at boosting local entrepreneurship.
It will provide a platform for startups and universities to contribute to local sustainable growth by bringing breakthrough ideas to the market.
The challenge spans six African countries, namely Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.
The challenge also calls upon universities in Central and West African countries to submit solutions.
To engage with local start-ups, Nestlé collaborated with Kinaya Ventures as part of its Spring Fellowship Program, which is designed to accelerate corporate startup partnerships and catalyse digital entrepreneurship.
The selected teams will enter an accelerator programme to help advance and potentially commercialise their ideas.
During the accelerator, the startup 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 programme, teams will have the opportunity to pitch their proof of concept to Nestlé’s management.
“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,” says Nestlé East and Southern Africa region spokesperson Ravi Pillay.
The R&D innovation challenge is part of Nestlé’s Global Youth Initiative, which aims to help ten-million young people around the world gain 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.