HENRi is one of Nestlé's open innovation platforms set up to help harness the ideas and passion of external partners, especially from the start-up sector. As we celebrate HENRi's fourth birthday, I look at some of the successes that have shaped its story so far.
To continually improve what we do – and push the boundaries of what is possible with foods, beverages, and nutritional health solutions – we need to work closely with outside partners.
Today, those external collaborations are central to our pursuit of innovation.
Gateway into the external world
HENRi was formed in the same spirit of open collaboration. Our small team works on connecting the resources and expertise of the global Nestlé organization with the creativity of the world's start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovators.
Each HENRi project starts with a brief that outlines a specific challenge identified within the Nestlé business. Clear objectives are set – and each challenge is given both a budget and a senior-level sponsor on the Nestlé side. Start-ups and innovators then submit their proposals, which are carefully assessed. Once a winning approach has been chosen, we work in partnership to deliver against the plan, with completed solutions typically delivered in just 100 days.
It's a way of working that has delivered great results since we first opened for business four years ago. Here are just three examples of the projects HENRi has helped make happen:
Connecting coffee growers and coffee lovers
Nespresso and HENRi worked together to find innovative ways of showcasing the difference Nestlé's sustainability approach makes to coffee farmers across the world – and using their stories to educate and inspire consumers.
Through a partnership with Kakaxi and IPG Labs, we used time-lapse video and microclimate data collection originally designed to track production, predict yields and minimize losses to create live feeds enabling consumers to discover the often remote farms where their coffee is grown.
We connected 12 farms across Colombia and Costa Rica in this way. The content created was used on social media as well as in retail spaces, creating a direct connection between those who love coffee and those who grow it.
Making good use of advertising spend
HENRi helped KitKat to create greater consumer engagement with its sustainability project, the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, while also finding a way to contribute directly to its ambitious social and environmental impact objectives.
To do this, we partnered with Good-Loop, an innovative advertising start-up that allows viewers to donate part of a brand's media budget to a good cause, in return for 15 seconds of their attention.
Viewers of KitKat's 'Time Traveler' ad had the choice of supporting different parts of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. After just three weeks, over GBP 30,000 of the media spend was diverted to the charitable work – which funded 318 school kits, 183 solar chargers and 68 vegetable growing kits.
Democratizing nutrition knowledge in Kenya
We engaged with the start-up community to find new ways of supporting Nestlé's ambition to improve nutritional knowledge across the East and Southern Africa region (ESAR).
We partnered with Tembo Education, whose platform uses WhatsApp, SMS and automated voice calling to deliver parents customized lesson plans and health tips directly to their phones – providing their children with the best possible nutritional start in life.
It was a smart, highly practical approach that took advantage of ever-increasing mobile connectivity across sub-Saharan Africa.
Taking innovation forward
These are just a few of the projects that HENRi has led to success. We publish challenges on our dedicated website all year long, so make sure to get in touch if you're an innovator interested in working with us.
Ever since Henri Nestlé invented Farine Lactée in 1867, innovation has been at the heart of the Nestlé story. Today we operate the single largest science and innovation network in the global food and beverages industry.
Several initiatives are ongoing at Nestlé that aim at further accelerating our innovation capabilities by building on key collaborations with external partners whilst leveraging our strong internal innovation capabilities.
For example our R&D Accelerator, brings together Nestlé scientists, students and start-ups to accelerate the development and test-launch of new concepts. We're also one of the four main partners behind the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley, a new innovation ecosystem that we hope will grow into a global center of excellence for advanced food and nutrition. Our Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost sees us engage with entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists and thought leaders on a daily basis to stay at the forefront of digital innovation.
External collaborations fostered by initiatives like HENRi are playing an indispensable role in pushing the boundaries of innovation even further and bringing the fresh energy and bold ideas that will sustain the growth and success of our business – and bring consumers alike the best of what innovation has to offer.