Tate & Lyle takes open innovation online

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Tate & Lyle is seeking outside help to develop its products
Tate & Lyle is seeking outside help to develop its products

Related tags Open innovation Innovation

Tate & Lyle is the latest big hitter to increase its focus on open innovation to boost its research and development (R&D) capability with the launch of a web portal.

The firm hopes the portal at www.tateandlyle.openinnovation.com​ will encourage universities, start-ups and firms specialising in food science to submit proposals which are aligned with its innovation priorities of sweeteners, texturants and health and wellness.

The open innovation trend has been steadily gathering momentum in recent years with firms tapping into outside expertise to relieve pressure on squeezed R&D budgets, while also providing access to a far greater number of experts and knowledge than can be harnessed in house.

Develop partnerships

Tate & Lyle's open innovation team which forms part of the innovation and commercial development group says it "leverages its global network to develop partnerships in new speciality food ingredient products and technologies".

A number of deals have already been announced since Tate & Lyle first set up an Open Innovation team in 2010. In December it signed an agreement with Nandi Proteins, a spin-out of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, to develop an early-stage protein ingredient technology for use in the food texturants sector.

The agreement grants Tate & Lyle an exclusive worldwide licence for the technology for food and beverage use, while Nandi Proteins retains the rights to develop the technology for other applications such as pharmaceuticals.

'Win-win' relationships

John Stewart, open innovation manager at Tate & Lyle, said: "We value our partnerships enormously but understand that approaching large corporations with a new innovation can be daunting. This is why Tate & Lyle has a small, dedicated team to help with the process. Our new website enables potential partners to submit ideas quickly and easily and for innovators to work with us to create long-term 'win-win' relationships."

Other companies which have been giving greater priority to open innovation include Nestlé, General Mills, Heinz and Unilever.

The UK Technology Strategy Board granted Nestlé's Product Technology Centre nearly £1M for business-led innovation in 2012.

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