A year after Gerardo Mazzeo, global innovation director at Nestlé wrote for us about HENRI@Nestle, we catch up to see how it’s worked.
A lot has happened since the last time I wrote for Business Quarter. HENRi@Nestlé has gone from strength to strength, partnering with innovators & entrepreneurs to tackle increasingly challenging and meaningful projects.
We have been lucky enough to connect and work with hundreds – if not thousands – of exciting and energetic start-ups. They’ve brought us a fresh approach and inspired new ways of thinking as we work towards our common goals. And we’ve taken on projects across sustainability, nutrition, health and wellness sectors, which having begun to make a hugely positive impact.
This approach – embracing partnerships and disruptive technologies – is a perfect way to achieve meaningful change. We’d seen this before, when we partnered with Blippar and used image recognition and augmented reality technology to bring our consumers digital content that inspires healthier lifestyles for children.
Then our HENRi Nespresso Sustainability challenge saw the creation of an online portal that provides consumers with a direct connection to our farmers – giving a first-hand look at how communities are benefiting from Nespresso’s AAA Sustainable Quality Program. Combining digital innovation with purpose-led initiatives like these has inspired further innovation around the business, with KitKat launching a similar project in autumn of last year.
And that’s one of the biggest learnings from HENRi. Purpose must come first. In all of our work, we are committed to a clearly defined set of goals and values: enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future. The challenges we set through HENRi are the DNA of our corporate culture, and this is essential to its success.
Take our last round of projects. We’ve been working to improve the sustainability credentials of infant food pouches, to spread nutrition knowledge in Africa and to inspire, engage and educate the next generation of farmers. These are meaty projects but open innovation is proving a successful way to approach even the biggest challenges – and win.
The biggest inspiration for me so far has been the infectious entrepreneurial spirit of the start-ups we have worked with. Especially when it’s predicated on that fundamental sense of purpose – a shared ambition, and aligned values – it’s that spirit of innovation that sparks creativity and brings our visions to life.
Open innovation (for us, through HENRi) allows for collaboration in the truest sense: combining resources and brainpower to produce solutions to complex business problems. The start-up world offers such massive opportunity and potential that we really see partnerships as a chance to learn – not least learning to challenge ourselves and our ways of working. This experimentation is the essence of HENRi’s mantra. Companies big and small are boldly trying new things, and that spirit is bringing newfound success and opportunity.
The more we dedicate ourselves to collaborating with start-ups, the more we learn about best practice to work with these new partners. The results of each project create so much value for everyone involved, including stakeholders like Vincent Leroudier, Digital Communication Manager for Nespresso and lead for our Nespresso Sustainability Project. He applauds the platform’s ability to kick-start projects, but more importantly the way it gives rise to a new approach, daring ideas and, in turn, real impact: “The biggest innovation to come out of this is for Nestlé – a massive company – is to work with individual photographers and small startups. That’s a huge innovation for us.”
As for our partners, they value the alignment of goals and a positive collaborative relationship. NextUser’s CEO, Mattheiu Dujardins, told us: “They’re providing a good cultural match as we’re both aligned on getting results for each brand. It’s not a political environment.”
HENRi is an innovation in and of itself. It will continue to grow in this way and become a hub where partnerships are formed, and individuals are challenged to think boldly when answering: “What’s next?”
Another busy year lies ahead, full of opportunities for us to create meaningful change in partnership with start-ups, innovators and entrepreneurs. As we move into our next round of projects (which will be appearing on the site soon), we are more confident than ever about what this exciting model can achieve.
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