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I recently took part in the FMCG Open Innovation Forum which was hosted by Fresca Group at Thanet Earth site. The meeting's topic was "Roadmap for Food, Drink & FMCG". In addition to exploring what makes an effective innovation team, it was great to meet some of the participants and have some inspiring conversations.


Open Innovation.eu summarises open innovation thus: "Combining internal and external ideas as well as internal and external paths to market to advance the development of new technologies." Open innovation expands an organisation beyond its own internal capabilities. Through this strategy, a company reaches out to access innovation resources that expand internal capabilities and become an asset for the company. Companies use this strategy to keep ahead of the competition and be in the cutting edge of its industry. This in turn enables them to rollout new products and services.

But as the saying goes, “Rome, wasn't built in a day” open innovation is not something you can achieve overnight. It is not a single event, but a process and a culture that must grow over time before benefits are realised. However, Rome did not build itself either, and open innovation won’t happen by itself. It needs hard work, commitment from the senior management, patience to cultivate effective programs. It is a major undertaking that requires focus, investment and time. But the rewards could potentially be amazing and very rewarding.

How do you build an open innovation culture?

Most companies have an ingrained culture, a set of values or beliefs by which they operate and to which their employees adhere. Therefore creating a culture that is accepting of open innovation is an important step towards successfully implementing an open innovation culture. One suggestion would be to creating an open innovation implementation team within the company. This team can help form links between different business functions within the organisation. There are numerous benefits to adopting an open innovation culture. The most popular reasons include: shorter time to market; finding new technologies and services to offer; access to additional competence; generation of new ideas; reducing costs; and access to new markets.

Open innovation can be successfully implemented where the impetus for change comes from the senior management and cascaded throughout the organisation. It does not need the creation of a massive business process. Instead, it is the transformation of an internal culture, and the development of a process to encourage and promote innovation from every available source. As such, it is within the reach of any company, large or small, willing to make the commitment to work at it and join the ranks of innovative companies leading in today's global marketplace.

Sajith Wimalaratne
Food & Beverage Commercial Manager

With a food science and chemical engineering background, Sajith has been providing technology intelligence, market analysis and strategy consultancy to some of the world's largest corporations. This spans industries including food and beverage, pharmaceutical, agri-food, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), healthcare, consumer packaged goods (CPG), petroleum, chemicals and materials.