A Timely Idea to Inspire Healthy Eating

Published Jan-16-17

Breakthrough:
A smartwatch that scans food in supermarkets and projects healthy recipes onto the palm of your hand.

Company:
Electrolux, Sweden

The Story:

A Timely Idea to Inspire Healthy Eating Food and beverage companies are increasingly looking outside their four walls to enhance their internal R&D expertise. They are taking advantage of a wealth of open innovation approaches, such as competitions, co-creating with consumers and hackathons to ideate and to get to novel products to market. Embracing the possibilities offered by open innovation is helping to give food industry companies a boost in a very competitive marketplace.

One of those enterprises engaging with open innovation is the Swedish multinational Electrolux. It does it through internal initiatives with employees at all levels and public facing contests, among other ways.

Ideas Lab

In 2016, the Electrolux Ideas Lab hosted its first ever global open innovation competition to find revolutionary ideas for tastier, healthier and more sustainable home cooking. In other words, foods that are healthier for our bodies and for the planet.

Among the challenges the contest hoped innovation would address were countering food waste and CO2 emissions in the production and transport of food, and health issues, such as obesity and poor nutrition.

Participants had to submit a short written explanation of their idea accompanied by a 30-second video. Concepts were assessed according to several factors, including creativity, design and consumer insight.

Many of the innovative ideas employed new and emerging technologies, such as 3D food printing and smartphone apps. Other ideas involved novel takes on some of today's products, food-sharing programs and life hacks. And the submission field was wide. The top 50 voted for concepts hailed from 27 countries.

Close to 40,000 votes were cast for the entries, resulting in the selection of ten finalists. Their submissions were evaluated by the Ideas Lab jury who awarded first place to WatchYourself. This nifty wrist-worn gadget scans barcodes of food items on supermarket shelves and projects recipes onto the palm of a user's hand.

"Engagement in the very first Electrolux Ideas Lab has been fantastic and has offered Electrolux an outstanding opportunity to tap into creative minds around the world for inspiration for healthier eating and life styles," commented MaryKay Kopf, Electrolux Chief Marketing Officer and jury member. "The winning concept charmed us with its holistic approach; the creator was able to step into the shoes of consumers and solve challenges within food shopping and managing a busy family lifestyle."

Among the other ideas to make the final were:

YouCook - a smartphone app to help people cook delicious meals with the ingredients they already have in the home.

Galef - a smart bottle that increases awareness of beverage and sugar consumption.

Tick-Tech Clip - a food bag clip that not only helps people preserve their food, but because it is connected to an app, updates them on the condition of every ingredient in their fridges and cupboards.

Open Innovation in Action

The open innovation contest yielded a lot of big and novel ideas. The next stage is putting them into action. The winners picked up a check for €10,000 (approximately $USD 10,500) and a VIP week with Electrolux to help bring their concept to market.

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