NCN says 'curated' list helps boost success of innovation events

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

NCN says 'curated' list helps boost success of innovation events

Related tags Innovation Dsm

Nutrition Capital Network partner Grant Ferrier said the mentoring program his company provides has boosted the success of innovation partnership programs such as the one sponsored by DSM.

NCN is partnering with DSM on a program to help entrepreneurs to connect with key executives to explore business collaborations and investment opportunities. Entrepreneurs and technology developers in food ingredients, nutrition, biotechnology and other innovations are invited to apply to be selected to present to DSM from applications submitted through September 16, 2016.

Ferrier said NCN has helped DSM with programs like this before, and the experience validated the concept of having a ‘curated’ list of companies to talk to.

“The first one we did with DSM was at their Parsippany, NJ facility in 2013. Of the nine companies that participated, they ended up doing some kind of deal with three of them. I think they would have been happy with one. Having a dedicated program helped make that happen more quickly,”​ Ferrier told NutraIngredients-USA.

DSM said its Partnering Innovation Conference is focused on seeking collaborations with innovative companies providing products and technologies that address human health issues. The event will be held at DSM’s North American headquarters in Parsippany on November 1-3, 2016. Finalists will be announced by September 26, 2016 and invited to the conference.

This year’s event is the fourth in a series that has focused on human health and nutrition. Previous events in New Jersey, Switzerland and Japan have led to successful collaborations between DSM and attendees, and equity investments by DSM Venturing.

The focus areas for this conference include innovative technologies and products with near-term (less than three years to commercialization) and long-term (more than three years to commercialization) applications in the following areas:

  •  Sugar reduction and natural alternative sweeteners
  •  Bio-preservation technologies for food and beverages
  •  Salt reduction and natural taste modulation technologies
  •  Fermentation and enzymatic technologies for new ingredients
  •  Human nutrition applications containing alternate protein sources.

Cultural shift

Ferrier said NCN’s role is to work with the initial applications to pare down the field to those companies most likely to succeed. Then the company provides a mentoring service to help participants hone their pitches. The success of the overall concept, though, is based on trust, and in that realm he said many large companies in the industry, including DSM, have come a long way from the days when big players could twist the arms of their supply partners to pry innovations out of them. Having NCN’s brand name on the proceedings means the company has vetted the corporate partner, too.

“I think corporate culture has changed a lot in the past decade. We are not going to expose potential applicants to a partner that’s just going to try to mimic their IP,” ​Ferrier said.

“I think there are a certain number of tech developers who are rather protective of their IP and in some cases are unwilling to share their work in progress until it’s done. Ideally if you can find a partner you can trust they can help with things like a clinical trial or a flavor issue or a stability question, because a bigger company has staffs of people dedicated full time to those processes,”​ he said.

“On the flip side, big companies find it almost impossible to innovate because they have so many internal processes.  I think we will see more and more of these kinds of events where the twain shall meet and the large companies can embrace the culture of the entrepreneur and can learn from them,” ​Ferrier said.

Companies interested in applying for event can do so here​.

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