University inventors and entrepreneurs whose research has applications in the food and consumer goods sectors will have the opportunity to demonstrate their ideas to representatives from major multinational companies, at an event to be held at the Institute for Manufacturing this spring.

Cambridge and other UK universities are a rich source of innovation and ideas, which have applications across a wide range of industries.

Dr Tim Minshall, Institute for Manufacturing

The University of Cambridge Open Innovation Forum will give up to 15 researchers, innovators and technology developers the chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of key decision makers from important food and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) firms, including Unilever, General Mills, Tate & Lyle and Heinz. The Forum is part of the Food & FMCG Innovation Pitching Event, to be held on Monday, 11 March 2013 at the Hauser Forum, Cambridge.

The Forum was established in 2010 by IfM Education and Consultancy Services, the dissemination arm of the Institute for Manufacturing, to encourage open collaboration between industry and University researchers. The Forum is made up of senior professionals from companies involved in the food and consumer goods sectors, who have indentified five areas where they are looking to collaborate with small commercial or university-based organisations: life sciences, materials, manufacturing, IT/electronics, and marketing and business models.

Additionally, the Forum has identified 40 ‘innovation needs’, including natural preservatives, solutions for reducing fat and calories, and new packaging materials. Technologies selected for the Forum must fall into one of the five key areas and address one or more of the Forum’s innovation needs.

“Cambridge and other UK universities are a rich source of innovation and ideas, which have applications across a wide range of industries,” said Dr Tim Minshall of the IfM. “Events like the OI Forum give our industrial partners access to these ideas, while giving our academics and entrepreneurs a valuable opportunity to see how their research can help solve real-world business problems.”

Spin-outs, start-ups, SMEs or university departments interested in presenting their ideas or products to the Forum must apply to do so online by 31 January; shortlisted candidates will be notified by 8 February. Applicants must own the rights to their technology, which should be suitable for commercialisation.

For more information on the event, including a complete list of the Forum’s innovation needs, or to apply, visit

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