GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is actively seeking partnerships with entrepreneurs, academics, suppliers or other third parties to develop brands like Ribena, Horlicks and Lucozade as it builds an open innovation platform.
Speaking at a conference in Rugby, UK, GSK's director of innovation and external networks, Paul Isherwood, said manufacturers that failed to embrace the principles of open innovation would lose out in the innovation stakes.
More and more consumer goods firms had accepted that they did not have a monopoly on good ideas and were actively seeking out ideas and technologies from third parties in order to drive more radical innovation, he said.
Potential partners are invited to visit a new website at http://www.innovation.gsk.com to find out whether their technologies could meet GSK's needs.
The website launch follows an event GSK ran in September in which more than 70 academics, packaging companies, equipment firms, ingredients suppliers and other interested parties met to discuss how they might work with GSK, said Isherwood.
"Everyone signed confidentiality agreements and we went into more detail about our wants and whether they could help us meet them."
While incremental innovations such as new flavours for Lucozade were important, radical innovation that would take GSK's drinks brands into "completely new categories" was required, he said. "We might be in the food market in a few years, without giving anything away."
GSK is one of several manufacturers including Unilever, Procter & Gamble and General Mills that have dedicated considerable time and resources to developing an infrastructure to support open innovation.
Jeff Bellairs, open innovation director at General Mills, said: "We're looking for people with patented or patent-pending technologies or products that have already been commercialised, but where the companies don't have the resources or expertise to help them realise their potential."