As part of an ever increasing need by industry to remain competitive in the global market, the Institute of Food Processing Technology (IFPT) at Conestoga College conducted a project themed Advancing Innovation in the Food Processing Industry, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
There were three main objectives to the project:
- Understanding the innovation mechanisms currently in place in the industry
- Developing a gap analysis that would identify what is needed (e.g. technical resources, funding) to encourage industry (in Ontario) to adopt an increased level of innovation
- Deliver a workshop to industry, government and academia, that will explain how a system of open innovation works and how a model food cluster (Food Valley) encourages such a system
The first two objectives involved benchmarking against Food Valley (the Netherlands, www.foodvalley.nl) and was achieved by conducting a comprehensive survey with a) Ontario food processors, b) Canadian food processing service providers, c) food processors members of Food Valley, and d) food processing service providers also members of Food Valley. The survey centered on the innovation practices in the individual companies and was completed by an executive with direct stewardship over innovation processes.
The results of the survey, were introduced at an interactive workshop held November 29, 2012, at the Maple Leaf ThinkFOOD! Centre. The workshop was delivered by Food Valley executives representing industry, academia and government. The goal of the workshop was to encourage the local industry to more actively adopt innovation as part of their strategic planning. By sharing their own stories and answering questions in an open forum, we believe that Food Valley experts were able to engage attendees, who will in turn, become catalysts for innovation within their organizations. Paulus Kosters, CEO from Provalor BV was one of the two invited speakers from the Dutch industry.