Nestlé has launched a Research and Development (R&D) innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of the company’s efforts to contribute to the local innovation ecosystem.

The company has invited Kenyan innovators and entrepreneurs to take part in it as it seeks to boost local entrepreneurship, as well as provide a platform for start-ups and universities to contribute to local sustainable growth by bringing breakthrough ideas to the market.

Other countries participating in the Nestlé R&D innovation challenge include Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. The goal is to work collaboratively with start-ups and universities to identify sustainable and scalable science and technology solutions that help to accelerate the innovation of products that meet local consumer needs. The R&D innovation challenge calls for novel solutions across four areas: environmentally friendly packaging solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, affordable nutrition and new routes to market.

To engage with local start-ups, Nestlé has partnered with Kinaya Ventures (based at the Nairobi Garage) as part of the Spring Fellowship Program, which is designed to accelerate corporate start-up partnerships and catalyze digital entrepreneurship.  Kenyan innovators will compete with others from universities in Central and West African countries to submit solutions.

The selected teams will enter an accelerator program to help advance and potentially commercialize their ideas. During the accelerator, the start-up and university teams will have access to Nestlé’s R&D expertise and infrastructure at the R&D Centre in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, including shared labs, kitchens and pilot-testing equipment.  At the end of the accelerator, teams will have the opportunity to pitch their proof of concept to Nestlé management.

Nestlé East Africa Cluster, Managing Director, Mr. Njeru Ng’entu, had this to say, “There is a growing number of Africa-based entrepreneurs and local researchers with creative ideas to address issues facing their communities.  This R&D innovation challenge presents for our company an exceptional opportunity to leverage the outstanding creativity, while helping to turn the most promising ideas into reality.”