On Monday, June 13th through Wednesday, June 15th, Silicon Valley Innovation Center (SVIC) hosted the executive team from Tetra Pak Brazil and their clients, including delegates from Pepsico and Nestle. Tetra Pak is a multinational food packaging and processing company with $11.9 billion in revenue and 23,600 employees.
SVIC put together a custom 3-day food innovation and food technology tour of Silicon Valley to introduce Tetra Pak Brazil to a variety of technology companies – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Airbnb – and technology innovators and investors – Stanford University, 500 Startups, and BrandGarage.
The highlights of the program include:
Fostering an Innovation Culture
Many technology disruptors and large high-tech companies develop a sense and need for innovation culture among their employees by hosting internal hackathons – an event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.
Out of these hackathons are born new products or new features for existing products because innovative thinkers are given a creative space to hatch ideas. For example, the “like” button and “feelings” features on Facebook all began as ideas at employee hackathons.
How Technology Will Change the Food Industry
The advent of technology has brought about many changes across industry verticals. Some welcome, some greatly unpredictable, but all extremely disruptive. Disruptive technologies are all about perception – is this new tech going to make you feel cool, be ahead of the curve, and have an advantage over the competition?
According to Denis Krupennikov, engineering manager responsible for Google Payment and Risk Management Platforms, the problem is there is a huge disconnect between what people need and want, and what technologies are currently providing. Future technologies are evolving to give people what they need. For example, the U.S. government has poured a lot of funding into 3D food printers for active military personnel, which many believe will become available to the public in the not too distant future.
Additionally, there is a trend towards healthier eating, and many “meat” products are now made only with vegetables to accommodate vegetarian diets. An article for NY Times recently stated that children age 2 to 11 consumed about 9 percent of their calories from junk food. But what if the technology to create “french fries” made of salad that tastes like a regular french fry existed? It’s not that outlandish and many Silicon Valley technology experts believe we are headed next.
Disruptive technology for the food industry boils down to what the market is ready for.
Investing in Food Tech Innovation: How Large Companies Can Work With Startups
The big question for large food companies is how do you integrate an acquired technology company when your company is outside of the tech sector? A rhetorical question at best.
You need to focus on solving unattractive problems, like data integration or rapid prototyping shared Marvin Liao, Partner at 500 Startups.
Simultaneously, acquiring more data should not the main focus anymore.
When you’re a large company you’re waiting for a small company to solve a problem. When you’re a small company you’re waiting for someone to ask the right questions. But the only problem and consequent questions is: are your products and solutions truly meeting a consumer need?
Tetra Pak and their clients were accompanied on their Silicon Valley innovation tour by SVIC’s President Andrey Kunov, Director of Global Business Development Marén Thomisch, and Director of Marketing Rita Rosenberg