Conxa Romaguera Camarena is Coordinator and Community Manager at Allfoodexperts, responsible of attending both challengers and members/associates, helping them to understand main concepts, and onboarding them into the cloud company. She explains to us the main drivers of AllFoodExperts.
A clear focus
Allfoodexperts is an independent open innovation project and focused exclusively on the food industry. It is different from other open innovation platforms because it is composed of a community of senior freelancers from the agri-food sector and posting challenges is free. Moreover, it is very much geared to facilitate applied innovation to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), lacking the resources and R & D centers of major “players” in the sector.
A challenging context
The project is just over a year of life and was driven by Henrik Stamm Kristensen, also founder of the companies Premium Ingredients and Blendhub (now united in Premium Blendhub), to meet two challenges of the food industry.
On the one hand, the growing need for innovation in a context in which the food products life cycle is becoming shorter, without reducing the quality and safety requirements demanded by such a sensitive sector like food. This forces companies, especially smaller ones, to collaborate to compete and bring innovation to the market, not only in terms of products, but also in regards to their processes and management systems.
On the other hand, the change emerged in the labor market. There is much more mobility and temporality has become an important factor. Professionals with high expertise circulate freely and work for different employers during shorter cycles. They feel free to search for companies with the best challenges for them. That is what the professor of ESADE Simon Dolan defines as the “portfolio employment”. Allfoodexperts allows this type of profiles to expand their ability to find attractive and interesting projects, without losing their autonomy.
Allfoodexperts emerged as an integrated solution to these two issues. Its “Why” is to lead applied innovation to the agri-food sector and bring together the best talent to generate it.
But what does it give to the agri-food industry?
Faster innovation and a structured process for SMEs. SMEs in the food and beverage industry can count on the collaboration of an international portfolio of experts who have been through companies such as Unilever, Kellogg and Cargill, thanks to the open innovation model. Currently, the community of experts of Allfoodexperts has about 200 experts in different areas within the food industry, in addition to a structured workflow through both incoming challenges and solutions are selected to transfer to the challenger a unique response, tailored to its needs.
Reduction of the innovation cost. AFE is a social and non-profit enterprise so its challengers pay only once when they get a solution that meet their specific needs, namely applied innovation.
Confidentiality and IP protection. Confidentiality is secured during the whole process and can be formalized by a NDA if required. At the time in which the company considers the solution presented as optimal, a collaboration agreement is signed between the Allfoodexperts’ team, the solver and challenger which defines who is owing the Intellectual Property (IP) of the solution.
A high value project to the industry. Allfoodexperts reinvests all its profits in its members and in the maintenance of its platform. As a social business, it takes all the technological capabilities of its platform to align value, connecting different stakeholders and facilitating dialogue and networking to bring new concepts , services and products to market.
[NB] What are the skills if the experts one can target with a challenge?
[CRC] They need to have at least 10 years of experience and know-how specialized in food industry, and of course, to be freelance not having exclusivity clauses or confidentiality agreements
[NB] What is the typical timeline of a challenge?
[CRC] It depends on the kind of challenge and company requirements. We had a couple of headhuting challenges that obviously were more urgent that the technical ones which are maximum 6 months deadline.
[NB] Is there a way in the platform to help experts identify other experts to compliment their skills, network, and provide a collective answer to the challenge?
[CRC) By default, experts cannot see the identity of the others in the platform, however there is an app in the platform called ask the experts which is a free forum where they can publish questions and people can deliver their suggestions, and with it, we assume that new project-based teams will be created using this forum.
Conxa Romaguera Camarena
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Nicolas is a senior VP at Orange Innovation Group. Serial innovator, he set-up creative BU with an international challenge, and a focus on new TV experiences. Forward thinker, he completed a thesis on “Rapid Innovation”, implemented successfully at Orange, and further developed at nbry.wordpress.com. He tweets @nicobry