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Win-Win Situation: Why Global Players and Start-ups Benefit from Each Other

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Breaking barriers between start-ups and industry leaders is unlocking a world of innovative solutions to the challenge of food security. Through synergistic relationships, sustainable and profitable food production is becoming possible.

National governments, multi-national organizations and major corporations are increasingly turning to disruptive start-ups to lead innovation and develop solutions to the pressing problem of sustainably, and profitably, feeding the world. Through accelerator programs, research partnerships and investment, synergetic relationships are being formed with the aim of growing businesses large and small. While tracking product development and novel processes, Innova has seen a growing trend for partnerships that work as well for youthful SMEs as for the big established names of the food world.

Start-ups and Industry Leaders Collaborate

Innovative Partnerships: Start-ups and Industry Leaders Collaborate to Tackle the Challenge of Sustainable and Profitable Food Production. (Source: Innova Market Insights)

Accelerating innovation

Shoots is the agricultural innovation collaboration and accelerator platform run by the Chinese-owned, Swiss-based Syngenta Group. Announcing this year's search for early-stage companies to partner with, Feroz Sheikh – Chief Digital and Innovation Officer – said: “If you have an idea, no matter how crazy it sounds, you will find people at Syngenta listening and willing to work with you to make it successful. At scale.”

Start-ups often have the detailed market understanding to go with the ‘crazy’ ideas, but lack the finance, size and routes to market needed to reach the mainstream. For the big players, spreading the innovation risk across partnered start-ups, while having a hand in the direction of travel, increases the speed and potential success of research, whether in the field of new processes or novel products.

Mondelez created SnackFutures to tap into disruptive snack brands who understand their local market and demonstrate inspired insights that fit with the latest trends. With the application process for its CoLab accelerator program currently open in India, Mondelez is seeking up to seven early-stage start-ups to receive mentoring, grants and introductions to venture capital funds. Through a marriage of corporate scale and local understanding, the aim is to find new snacks that specifically appeal to the modern Indian consumer. Casting a wider net, Nestlé has its Open Innovation program, of which it says: “During an immersive, six-month 'idea to shop' program, each team has full access to our infrastructure, plus unmatched science, technology and business expertise.”

Solutions for business and the planet

These partnerships and programs have at their heart business growth for all the involved parties, big and small. They also complement the efforts of national governments and international organizations to help start-ups scale solutions to bigger problems. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has, alongside the SEED partnership, launched the Agrifood Accelerator Programme to help new companies develop their ideas while contributing to sustainable development goals. The Dutch government is investing in plant-based innovation, particularly around new protein sources. And, backed by EU funds, EIT Food is seeking to support entrepreneurs working in nutrition, sustainability, novel farming methods and aquaculture.

In a still highly competitive world, the realities of a continuously growing population, climate emergencies and economic volatility are leading to collaborative solutions. Start-ups and disruptors are accessing funding, facilities, contacts and expertise to grow their business while retaining more control. For the bigger, established players, the risk of innovation is reduced while they tap into entrepreneurial skills and knowledge embedded in the markets they seek to grow. And for public institutions, there is a route to industry which helps synergize local efforts with global aims. Accelerators and targeted partnerships are a business trend that seem ideally suited to meeting the consumer trends, corporate ambitions and planetary needs of today. All in all, a win-win situation.

This blog has been provided by Innova Market Insights