Cadbury plc is the world's largest confectionery business with number one or number two positions in over 20 of the world's 50 largest confectionery markets.
Cadbury plc is the world’s largest confectionery business with number one or number two positions in over 20 of the world’s 50 largest confectionery markets. We also have the largest and most broadly spread emerging markets business of any confectionery company. With origins stretching back nearly 200 years, Cadbury’s brands include many global, regional and local favourites including Cadbury, Creme Egg and Green & Black’s in chocolate; Trident, Dentyne, Hollywood and Bubbaloo in gum; and Halls, Cadbury Eclairs, Bassett’s and The Natural Confectionery Company in candy.
Innovation throughout our business model has been key to our success for many years. Our methodology for manufacturing Flake for instance transformed our product offering when it was launched in 1920. Even our innovation process has undergone recent innovative changes, taking on the model of “Open Innovation”. The traditional model of innovation utilises internal R&D resources to support the development of innovative products, but an increasing number of leading companies are turning to a more open business model whereby collaboration with external partners on innovation projects is the norm.
This new and growing business model is employed to increase competitive advantage through acceleration of the innovation process and access to new ideas that the company would not have dreamed of on its own. The drivers for moving to an Open Innovation model include the realisation that no one company can own all the world’s best scientists; the existence of solutions to technical challenges in non-competing industry sectors (thereby removing the need to spend time developing it in-house); the need for multidisciplinary approaches to product development; and the increase in overall percentage of R&D spending in technology-based start-ups who are keen to find a route to market for their products or technology.
Cadbury has recognised and initiated Open Innovation as a key strategic priority, setting up a globally linked Open Innovation team to drive and support this initiative. The team’s mandate is to deliver commercially beneficial innovations to Cadbury through partnering and networking with leading organisations and academic institutions. Collaborative agreements with groups from universities, research institutes, small to medium enterprises (SMEs), spin-outs and non-competing large multinationals are sought, evaluated and negotiated by the team. The projects range from contract research with external partners such as university groups, partnering with key suppliers, co-development with large corporates (both competitors and non-competitors), or simply licensing technology. In the future we would also hope to seize the opportunity for profiting from technology that would otherwise lie dormant in our company by out-licensing to non-competing groups.
Cadbury began exploring Open Innovation as a potential tool to enhance innovation productivity in late 2006. Since then we have developed our own unique process for sourcing out-of-the-box ideas for solving our hardest technological challenges, a process that has already delivered step-change ideas for new products across all three categories (gum, candy and chocolate), bringing in science and technology from as far afield as metallurgy, materials and polymer science as well as closer in from pharmaceutical sector developments. A dedicated Open Innovation team was set up by Cadbury at the beginning of 2008 with a global remit to both bring in new technologies and also develop and roll out best practice methodology, behaviour and tools to support an open culture throughout the business. The team’s initial focus has been to generate a list of global technical needs that would benefit from ideas outside Cadbury. Great care has been taken to ensure that our list comprises requests that are aligned to the commercial strategies for each category, and which have a strong likelihood of incorporating external ideas if they are found.
In addition to populating a global technical needs list, we have developed and grown our own networks with external groups. Open Innovation is a contact sport and the more people we can reach the greater the chance that we will find great solutions and novel ideas. Since our remit is to seek solutions in a broad range of areas, we are required to pursue links in numerous and divergent sectors. We have achieved this through building on the team’s personal contacts built up over a lifetime in the business (plus the “connections of our contacts”), relationships with suppliers, connections with Open Innovation managers in non-competing companies, networking at tradeshows and conferences, and building up closer relationships with targeted universities and research institutes. We also pursue linkages with other networks, such as the Knowledge Transfer Networks, utilising the hub and spoke leverage into new contacts that this yields.
A number of companies and not-for-profit groups act as brokers to large networks, such as Innocentive, Nine Sigma and IXC. These groups have different business models for value delivery but they all have the aim of helping groups link into knowledge and technology that would be difficult to access themselves. At Cadbury we use a number of such networks. Our searches to date have led us as far afield as metallurgy and synchrotron science, from the UK to Australia, and partnerships from contract research to licensing to co-development.
Now that we have a list of what we are searching for, and networks set up to find the solutions, the Open Innovation team is equipped to match needs and deliver innovative solutions to the business. The business has a number of immediate technical needs, as well as long-term interests that will always be on the agenda. For instance, food grade ideas for novel (and pleasant) sensations or textures, healthy mouth benefits (such as breath freshening) and aeration for our confectionery products will always be of interest. We are currently developing a Cadbury website which will detail our technical needs and provide a portal for people to send in their ideas. As we grow our experience in Open Innovation and prove to the ideas market that we are partners of choice through winning collaborations for all parties involved, we hope to see that we are approached more and more with good and novel ideas.
If you have an idea you think may be of interest, we would be happy to hear from you. However, before you contact us, make sure that you have protected your idea (for instance through a patent application) and that you only send us a nonconfidential description. Your description should include: a non-confidential description of the technology; why you think your idea would be of interest to us; what impact it would have on the consumer; what makes it different to currently available technology; whether the IP is protected and who owns it. You can contact Sarah Pearson in the Open Innovation team by e-mailing her at email@example.com.
We look forward to hearing from you or catching up at tradeshows and conferences and working together to create “brands people love”.
For more information
Sarah Pearson, PhD
Open Innovation Champion
Reading Science Centre
Reading, RG6 6LA
Added the 09 September 2008 in category Innovation UK Vol4-1