Nestlé S.A., Switzerland, kicked off a research and development (R&D) innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of the company’s efforts to contribute to the local innovation ecosystem. The challenge will help boost local entrepreneurship, as well as provide a platform for start-ups and universities to contribute to local sustainable growth.

The R&D innovation challenge, which started in Ghana, will also take place in Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. The goal is to work collaboratively with start-ups and universities to identify sustainable and scalable science and technology solutions to accelerate the innovation of products that meet local consumer needs. The R&D innovation challenge calls for novel solutions across environmentally-friendly packaging solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, affordable nutrition and new routes to market.

"There is a growing number of Africa-based entrepreneurs and local researchers with creative ideas to address issues facing their communities,” says Stefan Palzer, chief technology officer. “This R&D innovation challenge presents for our company an exceptional opportunity to leverage the outstanding creativity, while helping to turn the most promising ideas into reality."

To engage with local start-ups, Nestlé partnered with Kinaya Ventures, Dakar, as part of the Spring Fellowship Program, which is designed to accelerate corporate start-up partnerships and catalyze digital entrepreneurship. The challenge also calls upon universities in Central and West African countries to submit solutions.

The R&D innovation challenge is part of Nestlé’s Global Youth Initiative, which helps 10 million young people around the world have access to economic opportunities by 2030.