A Successful Open Food Launch

On Wednesday 18th September, Co-Innovate hosted the Food and Packaging Innovation Workshop, which had a great turnout, including a mix of researchers, industry professional, SMEs and large businesses from the food and packaging industry. The event also acted as the launch of the new research project Open Food at the Old Vinyl factory in Hayes. This venue with a great history of industry and manufacturing, provided the perfect setting for the launch of the new £4 million EPSRC* project which will prototype open innovation models for ICT-Enable manufacturing in food and packaging. The project is being undertaken by leading researcher from Brunel University and Horizon, a research institute at the University of Nottingham, providing cross-disciplinary research collaboration.

The day included a series of interesting and thought-provoking presentations from not only the leaders of the project; Dr Sharon Baurley, Dr Harris Makatsoris of Brunel, and Professor Tom Rodden of Horizon, but from a range of industry leaders from the food and packaging sector. The presenters included, Chris Thorpe, founder of Intelligent Design Associates, Andy Kerridge, Chair of the Food Group at the SCI, Chris Waterhouse, of iDi Pac ltd. and Professor Rob Holdway, director of Giraffe Innovation Ltd. The audience were then encouraged to part-take in a series of activities during the afternoon workshop session, ranging from a blind taste and sense test, to discussing (if it was possible) what food ingredient would you 3D print.

One of the main topics for the day both discussed through the presentations and tested through the afternoon activities was the idea of crowdsourcing as an open innovation tool. For those who are unsure what crowdsourcing actually is, it is a method to obtain services, ideas and content from a large group of people. The process of crowdsourcing is a fast way to get feedback or ideas and is predominately undertaken online, although it doesn’t have to be, and whilst is not a new concept, its popularity is rapidly increasing, particularly in the US. The audience were provided with a number of examples of the use of crowdsourcing, including Wikipedia and Ben and Jerry’s using crowdsourcing to decide on new ice cream flavours.

Several presenters discussed this tool including Professor Tom Rodden who discussed its current uses and the feasibility and reliability across a number of examples, including Nasa Clickworkers and Wikipedia, whilst Chris Thorpe discussed its future applications and how this may affect the role of designers and researchers in the future, will they develop into interpreters and mediators of a crowds’ ideas? Chris also discussed how crowdsourcing doesn’t always have to be undertaken outside of the organisation, such is the case with Dyson, which by the use of a large open plan workspace they have created an environment where the ideas can created and discussed amongst a large workforce.

During the afternoon session the attendees worked their way round a series of interesting activities, including ‘Taste the Shape’ which was used to show the importance of implicit associations, the activity involved the attendees tasting a series of flavours which were added to either still or sparkling water and then answer a few questions, and associating the flavours to words and shapes. The four flavours which put the participants’ taste buds to the test were caramel-vanilla, sparkling berry, cream and mint-green apple skin, and the activity showed some interesting results. Most of the flavours showed some clear characteristics, particularly when it came to the shapes, for example the caramel-vanilla was associated with a rounded shape, but not perfect, possibly influenced by the raw sugar notes of the caramel.

For more information about the launch and the activities undertaken please read the Open Food Launch report, which you can view and download here.

The day proved to be enjoyable and interesting, providing a great networking opportunity for both Co-Innovate and the Open Food project to discuss potential collaborations with the attendees and their networks, whilst providing the opportunity for the attendees to network amongst themselves. The event was also part of the London Design Festival.

Call for collaborators!

The Open Food project is open to new collaborations. We are looking for challenges and insights into what you would like to crowdsource from consumers, as well as what consumers would like to feedback to you. For more information and other inquires please contact Sharon Baurley:sharon.baurley@brunel.ac.uk

Co-Innovate are looking for London based SMEs, who are in need of some free innovation support, if you would like to find out more information and to see if you are eligible for this project please contact Sophie Richards:sophie.richards@brunel.ac.uk

View and Download:

Event Handout

Dr Harris Makatsoris’ Presentation

Open Food Launch Event Report