Agropur launches an innovation challenge

The Natrel and Oka parent company is calling for product ideas to reinvent dairy.

Agropur has launched a new initiative calling on the public to help innovate the dairy products category.

Partnering with innovation hub Quartier de l’innovation de Montréal and innovation network NineSigma, the new “Inno Challenge” has put out a call across Canada and internationally for proposals for innovative dairy products.

The idea is to help Agropur, whose brands include Natrel, Oka, Olympic and Iogo, among others, reaffirm its position as an innovator in the dairy category and open up co-development.

Traditionally, product innovation and R&D has been a closely-held internal process for many companies, but with the pace of product development so fast now, opening up the process is key to staying ahead, says Nicolas Marie, SVP, strategic sourcing and development at Agropur.

Anyone in the public, from start-ups to the everyday consumer, can submit their innovation ideas online until Dec. 7, with NineSigma helping to promote the challenge. Ideas aren’t limited to the products themselves but also how they could be packaged or consumed. The goal is a product breakthrough, he says, pointing to Nespresso changing how coffee is consumed as an example of a tech idea that has disrupted that category.

Up to four projects will receive cash grants up to $25,000 and access to Agropur’s research and development resources to bring their ideas to the market-ready stage, with Quartier de l’innovation hosting the participants and biotech firm AG-Bio Centre providing guidance on finding other subsidies and programs outside of Agropur’s funding.

Selected participants will be announced in January with the prototype results presented at Agropur’s Inno Expo, its internal annual tasting event, next spring, with the intention of bringing products that receive a good response to market.

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