Nestlé innovation challenge seeks sustainable cocoa production and eco-friendly packaging solutions

The global Nestlé group has initiated a research and development (R&D) innovation challenge in Africa, beginning in Ghana, examining issues including sustainable cocoa production and environmentally friendly packaging.

As the company revealed, the move is part of its efforts to contribute to the local innovation ecosystem. It is anticipated that 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 innovation challenge will take in another of other African countries including 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.

Among the key goals of the challenge are the creation of novel solutions across four areas: environmentally-friendly packaging solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, affordable nutrition and new routes to market.

As previously reported by Confectionery Production, the company is presently engaged with a number of environmental improvement programmes, including work on its pledge that none of its products globally would be associated with deforestation by 2020.

Stefan Palzer, Nestlé chief technology officer, welcomed the initiative. He 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 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 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.

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