Open Innovation Forum Food, Drink & FMCG Pitching Event 2021

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


Senior leaders from major Food, Drink and FMCG firms such as Mars, PepsiCo, Heineken, Suntory, Muller, Cargill, Boots, Twinings, Yili 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 Tuesday 7 December, which will take place online. The 10th Food, Drink & FMCG 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


Within these overall goals, there are many related ‘Innovation Needs’ including:

  1. Valorising co-products and side-streams
  2. Plant-based ingredients and alternative proteins
  3. Resource-efficient manufacturing processes & automation
  4. Microbiome & gut health
  5. Reducing food waste
  6. Functional nutrition & wellbeing
  7. Closed-loop / reusable packaging
  8. Mental health and wellbeing
  9. Recycling solutions for packaging materials
  10. Shelf-life extension & decontamination
  11. Natural ingredients
  12. Supply chain tracking & traceability
  13. Packaging elimination and new fulfilment / business models
  14. Bio / sustainably sourced packaging materials
  15. Consumer information, education & behaviour change
  16. Sugar, salt, fat etc reduction
  17. Compostable packaging
  18. Digital / AI solutions to support sustainability and the circular economy
  19. Healthy, sustainable enjoyment
  20. 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.
  • Selected finalists will be invited to take part in virtual ‘hackathon’ activity with Forum members on 8 December to identify solutions and next steps to driving forwards these four Sustainable Development Goals.
  • 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.
  • The event is free to enter and is taking place virtually – what have you got to lose?

You will be asked to provide information on:

  1. Organisation or research group/department: eg; brief background; area of activity; URL. MAX 100 WORDS
  2. Innovative solution: What is the innovative solution (and any supporting information); what is new about this approach? Is there any associated IP? MAX 200 WORDS (NOTE: DO NOT DISCLOSE ANY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OR CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION).
  3. Identified Sustainable Development Goal and Innovation Needs addressed: Which of the 4 priority Sustainable Development Goals and 20 Innovation Needs identified by the OI Forum members does this address; Which OI Forum member companies might be most interested in this innovation? MAX 100 WORDS
  4. Technology Readiness: Where are you up to? eg Initial principle; proof of concept; lab demonstrator; MVP; field-trialled; commercial application. MAX 100 WORDS
  5. How did you hear about the event?

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

Request a pitch

Application deadline

  • Early bird applications close 1 October 2021 
  • Final deadline: 31 October 2021


Ecosystem Partners


Dec 07 2021


1:30 pm - 4:00 pm




IfM Events
01223 766141