Multinational food company launches new challenge on The Innovation Hub's Open Innovation Solution Exchange
A multinational food company with operations in South Africa has launched a new challenge on the Open Innovation Solution Exchange, a platform hosted by The Innovation Hub, in Pretoria. The food company is looking for a solution to optimise the decolouration of sorghum and millet varieties for use in human food without compromising their nutritional value.
The Innovation Hub Open Innovation Solution Exchange platform was launched in November 2012 and has attracted significant interest from the innovation community in southern Africa.
The Innovation Hub, Africa's first internationally accredited science and technology park, is a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), which is an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development.
This challenge is posted anonymously due to the competitive nature of the sector, and a further challenge from another food company based inSouth Africais expected to be launched soon. The first six challenges posted in November 2012 drew a large number of responses, from SMEs to large entities. Joint venture and purchase agreements are being concluded between the challenge owners and the solution providers.
The Innovation Hub's CEO, McLean Sibanda, said: "The Solution Exchange platform has delivered beyond our expectations in creating real value for potential solution seekers in the government and private sectors. This new challenge represents a significant opportunity for potential solution providers from universities, research institutes, SMEs and large entities across the country. The increasing costs associated with food production in the coming years will need to be addressed by innovative technologies, and we encourage local organisations to participate in this regard."
Open innovation accelerates the innovation acquisition cycle in both the public and private sector by extending research and development engagements beyond the "four walls" of an organisation. This results in a shift from closed R&D towards an open "Connect and Develop" model popularised by Procter and Gamble, one of the world's largest firms and a pioneer of open innovation.
In South Africa, The Innovation Hub has taken the lead in providing a neutral platform for bridging the innovation chasm, facilitating collaboration among the multi-helix players in the national system of innovation, while leveraging on the global innovation ecosystems. This will accelerate economic competitiveness, small firm growth, job creation and service delivery within both national and local government.
The latest challenge posted on the platform addresses a growing challenge for companies in the food sector. Recently, food shortages caused by many factors, including climate change and a shift to biofuels, have resulted in price increases of all grains, including sorghum and millet that have traditionally been considered cheap and affordable to the majority of consumers in Africa. Higher tannin or red varieties of millet and sorghum can be cultivated at lower cost, but they are less suitable for human consumption. Technologies exist to decorticate or dehull red sorghum and millet grains, but these are often highly abrasive and tend to result in a substantial waste and loss of nutritional value. A potentially game-changing opportunity exists for improving or replacing the current methods for decolouring the higher tannin varieties without negatively impacting on yield and nutritional value.
Proposals are invited from individual inventors, scientists, small medium enterprises, research institutions, universities and companies. Interested parties are encouraged to register and submit their responses online at www.exchange.theinnovationhub.com. The response deadline is 22 June 2013.
Solution seekers looking to post challenges on the platform should contact the Open Innovation Solution Exchange resource team at The Innovation Hub.
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