Big companies are betting on open innovation to lead the transformation of the agrifood industry
- 78% of the companies consulted already use external sources to innovate, and 100% have invested in innovation in the last two years.
- According to the study, most innovation efforts are concentrated on the Product area (92%), followed by Technologies (57%), Processes (53%), and Business Models (46%).
- 78% of companies identify the General Management as the main decision-maker, although the Innovation Departments with 57% and the Business Development and Marketing Departments with 28% in both cases are gaining more weight.
- 93% of surveyed companies prefer collaborating with technology centers, while 71% prefer co-developing with external entities as open innovation tools.
“Innovate or die” is the motto of almost every company today. Demographic and sustainability challenges, socioeconomic uncertainty and changing consumer trends are some of the key factors that have driven a major technological transformation in the agri-food sector. A transition that has become an opportunity to promote the competitiveness and progress of companies.
Eatable Adventures, one of the world’s leading accelerators, has today presented the data of its first study “The State of Open Innovation”, a report that dives into the need for companies in the food and beverage industry to innovate, as well as the keys to make this innovation as successful as possible.
When it comes to collaborating with external agents to create new products or services or transform existing ones, Mila Valcárcel, Managing Partner of Eatable Adventures, highlighted the change in mentality of companies. “We are in a changing and dynamic environment. Companies need to generate innovation at all levels to improve their competitiveness, but in many cases, they do not have the structure or capacity to do so efficiently internally. Collaborative environments with startups, R&D centers, or universities provide a great advantage, as they allow companies to innovate in a disruptive, agile, and efficient manner, with much more efficient risk management. From Eatable Adventures, we are witnessing how companies are adopting open innovation models more frequently, allowing them to take their productivity and efficiency to another level. The sector is undergoing a transformation process very similar to the one the technology industry went through.” This trend, according to the study, is being established among the Food and Beverage sector leaders in Spain such as Mahou, Pascual, or Europastry, but is also spreading in more emerging markets in the Latin America region, with companies that are leading the transformation of the sector, such as Sigma or Alianza Team.
Innovation is a strategic priority for companies
According to the study, 100% of the surveyed companies said they have invested in innovation in the last two years, during the analyzed period (2020- 2022). Positively, this indicates a great deal of maturity in this area, which makes it easier to establish win-win partnerships with external agents. This fact extends to all types of companies in the sector, regardless of their revenue volume and size, as well as their geographical area.
Among the areas of innovation that are prioritized, Products takes the lead (92%), followed by Technologies (57%), Processes (53%), and Business Models (46%).
Which department is responsible for the innovation decisions within your company?
78% of the surveyed companies identify General Management as the most responsible party when it comes to decision-making. However, 57% of surveyed companies cite the need for innovation and adaptation as the reason for creating Innovation Departments to handle these decisions. In terms of launching R&D projects, this is highly positive, since it confirms that organizations are changing their cultural mindsets. Finally, the Business Development and Marketing departments also have a very significant weight in establishing these decisions and coordinating innovation flows, making the correlation between innovation and the expansion potential of the companies evident.
2022, the year of open innovation
Open innovation is the process by which companies implement innovative opportunities to their existing business models through corporate partnerships with external agents, as well as the acquisition of social capital through investments. As the food sector faces enormous pressures and shoppers demand healthier, more functional, and more sustainably produced products, this sector presents a very favorable environment for the development of these valuable partnerships.
According to the survey, 89% of companies prioritize their internal resources for generating innovation. However, 78% of the surveyed companies state that they turn to external sources to transform their company, making collaboration a key way to generate synergies and new business opportunities.
From where does innovation in your company originate?
Respondent companies choose to collaborate with universities and technological centers (93%) first when it comes to choosing open innovation tools that meet their needs and level of innovation.
In these universities, the research is generally carried out in scientific parks equipped with the technology necessary to scale these solutions. Secondly, 71% of surveyed companies prefer to codevelop with external entities, which sometimes results in acceleration programs, industrial scaling, or venture building, among others entities , which often results in acceleration programs, industrial scaling, or venture building, among other results. Over 50% of companies conduct startup search programs such as showcases, scouting, and challenges to learn more about the ecosystem. With 25%, direct investment in startups comes in fourth place. Companies allocate certain amounts of financial resources to another company in order to capture value.
In these universities, the research is generally carried out in scientific parks equipped with the technology necessary to scale these solutions. Secondly, 71% of surveyed companies prefer to codevelop with external entities, which sometimes results in acceleration programs, industrial scaling, or venture building, among others entities , which often results in acceleration programs, industrial scaling, or venture building, among other results
Collaboration with startups and creation of specialized investment vehicles: the areas with the greatest growth projection
Nearly all surveyed companies (93%) state that they plan to invest in innovation in the next 3 upcoming years. When considering which tools would best suit their needs, collaboration with universities and technology centers (78%) emerges again, followed by the desire to conduct pilot tests (75%), as well as co-development with external entities (75%) and boosting the innovation culture within the companies (75%), which once again reinforces the priority of innovation in the growth strategy of the companies. Startup search and incubation tools are also capturing growing interest from companies, with 46% and 42% respectively. A projection that is also supported by the comparison between current and desired tools. In addition, the desire for growth in the tool of specialized investment vehicles is also highlighted.
What type of open innovation tools would best suit your company?
Regarding the self-perception of the degree of innovation of the company, the average score of these companies is 7.46 out of 10, still room for improvement, especially considering that companies award a 9.4 to the importance of innovation for the growth of their company.
The companies’ self-perception of innovation scored 7.46 out of 10, still room for improvement, especially since most companies assign a 9.4 rating to innovation’s importance to their growth.
Finally, when talking about the projected investment in innovation during the next year, companies are clear, with over 85% betting on increasing investment in this area.
As the study highlights, it is evident that open innovation is gaining more and more weight as a model for attracting talent, technology, and new business models since it has the power to transform organizations in an agile and efficient way
Download the full report here.