AFRICA – Nestlé has launched a Research and Development (R&D) innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of the company’s efforts to contribute to the local innovation ecosystem.

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 R&D innovation challenge, which was officially launched in Ghana, will be implemented across several countries in the continent including Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.

According to the firm, 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.

The R&D innovation challenge calls for novel solutions across four areas: environmentally-friendly packaging solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, affordable nutrition and new routes to market.

“There is a growing number of Africa-based entrepreneurs and local researchers with creative ideas to address issues facing their communities,” said Stefan Palzer, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer. 

“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.”

The nutrition and wellness company has 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.

Madam Philomena Tan, the Managing Director of Nestlé Ghana said, explained that the selected teams would enter an accelerator programme to help advance and potentially commercialize their ideas.

“With multi-stakeholder collaborations through innovation, scientific research and development backed by the right resources and the needed engagement, local consumer needs including affordable nutrition, sustainable agricultural produce and environmentally friendly packaging are attainable,” she added.

Mr Dominique Allier, the Innovation & Renovation Champion and the Business Executive Officer, Culinary of Nestle Central and West Africa said the R&D presents the company with an opportunity to leverage the outstanding creativity while helping to turn the most promising ideas into reality.

“We launched the Research & Development innovation challenge, which will span the six countries to further accelerate innovation, which is core to bring to about Nestlé’s purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future”, he said.

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.