General Mills expands open-source innovation network

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

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General Mills is beefing up its Worldwide Innovation Network (G-WIN) with an online collaboration tool to align “scientists, researchers, engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs” with technical challenges highlighted by the company.

The company has about 50 of these challenges posted on the website (www.generalmills.com/win​), a place where visitors can also register to follow the progress, and give input, to the various projects that develop.

Since the launch of G-WIN in May, 2007, more than 40 General Mills products have incorporated a significant portion of out-sourced innovation, including Fiber One Bars, Yoplait Smoothie, Pillsbury Savorings, Progresso Light soups, and Wanchai Ferry frozen dinner kits.

The new online portal incorporates technology from firm inno360 to co-create the Web-based platform as part of the firm’s Alpha partner program.

“We are absolutely committed to changing the way we invent through connected innovation,”​ said Peter Erickson, senior vice president of Innovation, Technology and Quality at General Mills.

General Mills says the technology allows it to accelerate its own innovation initiatives by matching them with, “outside technical expertise and resources with a broader array of businesses and brands.”

Visitors to the portal can submit novel ideas with a focus on, “product, package and processing technologies that are applicable to the company’s categories or brands, uniquely meet an unmet consumer need, have been proven technically feasible and can be applied quickly, or are potentially game-changing for the food industry.”

General Mills, which announced its commitment to open sourced innovation in 2005, says it will respond to all ideas within three weeks.

It has 15 ‘Innovation Entrepreneurs’ ​in the G-WIN team.

“G-WIN is our call to outside partners to let them know that we’re serious about open innovation,”​ said Jeff Bellairs, director of G-WIN. “It’s about reaching outside of our company, working with other inventors and incorporating their eureka moments with our unique capabilities to create bigger innovation in the marketplace.”

“In the past, we relied heavily on serendipity. Inno360 is the connection engine that will give us the ability to find partners in a more proactive, thoughtful fashion.”

The company was unavailable to provide details by the time of publication.

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