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Multi-national firms embrace Open Innovation to stay ahead of the curve

· TechInnovation

Companies appearing at TechInnovation 2017 are all about third party collaboration in pursuit of cutting-edge products and technologies. Their Open Innovation strategies are vital to their success as truly global organisations leading their respective fields.

Building partnerships that drive innovation

One such company that focuses on Open Innovation, is Swiss specialty chemicals company Clariant, that will be seeking new partnerships at TechInnovation’s Crowdsourcing sessions. “In order to remain competitive, Clariant must develop new products and technologies that cannot be replicated easily or at low cost. This in turn requires increased innovation power that goes beyond the company boundaries,” said Melvyn Ho, Clariant’s Open Innovation Manager. He will present during the Crowdsourcing session on Day 1.

Clariant launched its Open Innovation portal in 2015. The portal is available online, inviting external innovators from all over the world to share their ideas. “Our Open Innovation platform opens our doors to anyone and everyone, in any shape or size. It is dedicated to finding innovative solutions,” said the Shanghai-based Ho.

Through its Open Innovation portal, the company is currently exploring ways to develop more sustainable and innovative solutions in Smart Packaging and Personal Care. Clariant intends to reduce its impact on the environment through innovative products without compromising on the quality of life.

To date, Clariant has established more than 125 scientific collaborations with various research institutions worldwide and is continuously looking to enhance its strategic partnerships through open innovation. It will launch new open innovation initiatives in Asian cities as Clariant ramps up its geographical footprint in Asia and especially in China.

Clariant is active in four business areas: Care Chemicals, Catalysis, Natural Resources and Plastics & Coatings. “We are keen to explore technology platforms in Chemistry & Materials, Biotechnology, Catalysis and Process Technology for our four business areas. We are looking for technologies that help us to provide competitive and innovative solutions to our customers while still being environmentally sustainable,” said Ho.

Crowdsourcing to innovate the food industry

For Stefan Dobrev, Global Head of Innovation Portfolio Management at Nestlé S.A., Open Innovation helps the food giant access competences complementing its food science core, including biotechnology, health science, data and devices. This allows the business to engage consumers and grow in tune with wider trends, such as greater awareness of healthy nutrition and rising demand for authentic, natural and organic foods.

Dobrev will be presenting on Day 2 of TechInnovation’s Crowdsourcing sessions. He will be actively pursuing new partnerships for Nestlé “The historical strengths of the region in data, microelectronics and nutrition will be a focus, but our needs are broad, so we are open to a wide range of opportunities,” said Dobrev. “We are looking for a good team with an expertise complementary to our science and technology strengths. On our side, we provide an instant, large customer base and the knowhow of a strong organisation, from regulatory to manufacturing to IP, as appropriate.”

Harnessing external expertise 

Cavan Yu, Senior Director, Global Resource Integration of Haier Open Innovation Center said that with the rapid development of science and technology, no company can rely solely on its own strength to meet the needs of the market and users. "The world is our R&D centre. The world is our talent pool." he said. He will be making his presentations on Day 1 of TechInnovation’s Crowdsourcing sessions.

Yu is seeking working partnerships to improve the status quo of refrigerators through HOPE, or Haier Open Innovation Ecosystem.

One such area Haier is focusing on is reducing gravy loss in frozen meat by 50 per cent.

Wan said that for current refrigerators, meat and frozen foods are stored at low temperatures. However, after a certain period, due to temperature fluctuation caused by the on-and-off actions of the compressor as well as the escape of cold air, frozen meat may lose water.

Once the meat is thawed, there will be a large amount of blood from the thawing and the meat will taste hard or bad. “This will have negative impact on meat quality. To further improve frozen food quality, we are now seeking a new solution that could be applied on refrigerator products,” said Yu.

HOPE is a platform to provide open innovation service for both technology providers and demanders, he continued. “From 2015, HOPE not only provide service to Haier Group, but also help other Chinese companies. We hope to set up an open innovation eco-system and more participants will join our platform,”

Organised by IPI Singapore, TechInnovation 2017 will be held at Marina Bay Sands from 19 to 20 September. Now in its sixth year running, the event will showcase over 160 exhibitors and 400 emerging and ready-to-market technologies.

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