Open Innovation Forum Food, Drink & FMCG Pitching Event 2022

This is your chance to pitch ideas to major global player in the Food, Drink and FMCG sectors.

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Senior leaders from major Food, Drink and FMCG firms such as Mars, PepsiCo, Diageo, Suntory, Muller, Cargill, Boots, Twinings, Yili, Nomad and Kerry are holding a pitching event for innovative companies, entrepreneurs, start-ups and university spin-offs. These companies, who are members of the University of Cambridge IfM’s Open Innovation (OI) Forum, are seeking new solutions to their business challenges, so you have the chance to pitch to them at an event on the afternoon of Thursday 1 December 2022 (pitches will be delivered online).

The 11th Food, Drink & FMCG Open Innovation Pitching Event is open to all individuals, research organisations and companies of all sizes and levels of maturity. Up to 20 entrepreneurs, start-ups, researchers, innovators and technology developers will be picked to pitch their ideas to a panel of key decision-makers and ‘innovation scouts’ from important food, Drink and FMCG firms (see full list here).

This year’s Pitching Event will focus on solutions to four of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which the OI Forum members have identified as having the greatest relevance to the Food, Drink and FMCG sectors:

  • Zero Hunger
  • Good Health and Wellbeing
  • Responsible Consumption and Production
  • Climate Action

The event is being held as part of an OI Forum event hosted by Biffa plc at its PET recycling facility at Seaham, and as such, there will be a particular emphasis on ‘Innovation Needs’ related to Sustainable Packaging, including:

  • Recycling solutions for packaging materials
  • Packaging elimination and new fulfilment / business models
  • Bio / sustainably sourced packaging materials
  • Closed-loop / reusable packaging
  • Compostable packaging
  • Encouraging consumer recycling behaviours (design, usage behaviour, education…)
  • Digital / AI solutions to support sustainability and the circular economy.

In delivering the broader ambition of the UN’s SDGs, the Forum members have identified the following further ‘Innovation Needs’ as critical for success:

  • Valorising co-products and side-streams
  • Plant-based ingredients and alternative proteins
  • Resource-efficient manufacturing processes & automation
  • Microbiome & gut health
  • Reducing food waste
  • Functional nutrition & wellbeing for physical and mental health
  • Shelf-life extension & decontamination
  • Natural / clean label ingredients
  • Supply chain tracking & traceability
  • Consumer information, education & behaviour change
  • Sugar, salt, fat etc reduction
  • Healthy, sustainable enjoyment
  • Testing & validation

Reasons to enter:

Most importantly, all finalists will have the opportunity to present their ideas and products to around 50 senior leaders and decision-makers whose main job role is to scout for and acquire innovation and technology from outside their organisations.

All finalists will receive a certificate and will benefit from publicity associated with the event.

Winners and highly commended entries will receive a trophy.

All proposed pitches will be circulated to OI Forum members, whether they are shortlisted as finalists or not, so this is a sure-fire way of getting your idea in front of some key potential partners.

Early bird finalists announced 

Twelve exciting innovators have been selected to pitch their solutions, view the early bird finalists here. Meanwhile, there are still twelve further places to be won in the final event, taking place virtually on 1 December 2022 - entries close 11 November

What past pitchers say:

"I still vividly remember the event in Belfast - the connection to interested partners/companies was really, really helpful for us!" 2018 Finalist

"Since winning the event in 2017, we have been working more and more in the Food & Beverage industry. Our relationship and the impact on our clients, including Forum member companies, only increased." Stefan Tan, CEO, Dashmote 

"I just wanted to say how valuable I found this session. Great to have the opportunity to pitch to so many industry leaders in food, drink and fmcg. And fascinating to be able to listen in to the pitches from the other innovative small businesses from around the world." Neil Morris, co-founder & CEO, Kelpi

Previous events

Read about the OI Forums previous pitching competitions in 2021 (virtual event), 2020 (virtual event), 2019 (London) and 2018 (Belfast). 

Ecosystem partners