Open Innovation Lessons From the Food Industry

April 11, 2013 By IdeaConnection

FoodsNutraceuticals World, a magazine for manufacturers of dietary supplements, functional foods and nutritional beverages is running an article series on open innovation.  It aims to define the concept and help companies in all sectors identify barriers and opportunities.

In the current issue industry insiders are offering their thoughts and experiences of actual OI practices.

One of those interviewed for the feature was Dr. Robert Sinnott, CEO and Chief Science Officer of Mannatech, Incorporated, a provider of naturally sourced supplements.

The company uses open innovation to develop new product concepts with its network of independent distributors.  This approach has been integral to the development of several of its proprietary products.

Challenges and Solutions

According to Dr. Sinnot some of the key challenges of OI approaches are to ensure that everyone has a place at the table and a voice, and that all ideas are fairly and effectively vetted.

Referring specifically to Mannaatech he said the big question was employing OI on a grand scale to 500,000 independent distributors in more than 20 countries so they could be meaningfully engaged in the ideation process.

The solution came in a lecture room: “While attending a product development class at The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business a few years ago, I had an ‘Aha Moment’ when I learned about software Wharton had developed to run academic tournaments”

“It struck me that this software was exactly what we were looking for. When adapted for our purposes, I could see that it could provide an anonymous, user-friendly, controlled platform for our associates to share their product ideas and vote on others’ ideas.”

Success Stories

The magazine feature also homes in on some success stories as well as seeking out the advice of some key players. To read the full article click here.

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