IFST SC21 - Smart Innovation Event Highlight

To start today’s session on smart innovation, Jorgen Hesselburg – Cofounder of NOR – gave an insightful presentation about embracing a culture of data-driven continuous improvement. Jorgen first shared some key team practices and behaviours that are found to be highly correlated with positive business outcomes, mentioning that ‘’high performing teams regularly pause to look at how they can perform better and take continuous improvement seriously’’. Furthermore, he spoke about how we can use data to have meaningful conversations with teams, explaining ‘’It’s not about the answers, it’s about asking better questions and how we can facilitate continuous improvement, that’s where data can be really useful’’. Finally, Jorgen outlined a strategy for building a culture of continuous data-driven improvement which included ‘’collecting data, gathering objectives metrics, and taking action’’.  

Next, we listened to Dominic Darby – Head of Innovation at M&S - give his perspective on the importance of disruptive innovation. Dominic started by exploring the concept of disruptive innovation and what this means at M&S, including their focus on ‘’Taking existing trends and using new science and technology to make them accessible for consumers’’. Dominic also explored emerging trends within the sector including plant-based eating, gut health, and sustainability, and shared how M&S will be responding to those trends. He specifically focussed on the incorporation of mycoprotein into foods, emphasizing the need to ‘’partner with the right technology partners to use novel technology to solve customer problems’’. 

To wrap up this session, Tom Holland, Innovation and Technical Director at Raynor Foods, presented the ‘digital sandwich’ project - the world’s first national and ‘open’ software platform. Tom described how the Digital Sandwich is ‘’looking to exploit new technologies including artificial intelligence and blockchain technology’’ through the process of 'digital fusion’. He went on to explain the phenomenon known as the ‘bull-whip effect’ - ‘’a whiplash-shaped curve of expanding demand’’, and how it ‘’represents a significant cost to the food supply chain’’. Crucially, Tom shared how ‘’If blockchain technology is adopted and scaled nationally, it would allow us to optimise and simplify national, cross-border and international food supply chains’’ and ‘’reduce inventory waste by reducing this bull-whip effect’’.  

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