‘Innovation leadership is key’: Nestlé reorganises its R&D operations

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Reduced sugar Milkybar was the result of collaboration between Nestlé Research and product innovation teams
Reduced sugar Milkybar was the result of collaboration between Nestlé Research and product innovation teams
Swiss food giant Nestlé is reorganising its research and development operations in a bid to further strengthen its innovation capabilities.

In an announcement today (24 May), the company said that its two scientific discovery units, the Nestlé Research Center (NRC) and the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHC), will be integrated “to build one impactful organisation​”, Nestlé Research.

Nestlé said that combining the complementary capabilities of the two facilities will take its R&D efforts to a “new level​”.

"Nestlé’s success is built on meeting fast-changing consumer demand around the world. In this dynamic environment innovation leadership is key to winning in the marketplace,"​ said Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider. "Strengthening our discovery research capabilities will give us an edge when it comes to developing the technologies for the next generation of must-have products."

Nestlé Research will be based in Lausanne, Switzerland. It will employ approximately 800 people and a spokesperson for Nestlé stressed that the move will not result in job cuts. “This is not a cost-cutting exercise so there is no effect on positions. There is also no change to the overall R&D budget.”

Nestlé Research will consist of three research institutes: health sciences, material sciences and food safety and analytical sciences.

‘Pushing the boundaries in innovation’

The new organisation will combine “fundamental science at the highest level, high-end analytical platforms leveraged by all research teams, and strong prototyping capabilities”​ to “accelerate the translation of science into innovation”​, Nestlé said.

The decision to bring the complementary capabilities in the NRC and NIHS together was taken to make Nestlé’s research “more impactful​” in terms of “scientific excellence and translational work​”, the spokesperson told FoodNavigator. “Increased collaboration inside and outside, as well as knowledge-sharing, is a stated goal for all our R&D work.”

It is also hoped that the shake-up will shorten the group’s innovation pipeline and speed to market. “It is a stated goal of Nestlé to shorten the path and time from idea to market. This is first of all about maintaining the edge in terms of research and innovation, but we also want to increase speed to market.”

The spokesperson continued: “The team will continue to research the complex relation between nutrition & health and translate this understanding into business-relevant nutritional concepts… What is clear is that we are emphasising that we need to speed up development to bring research results to the marketplace.”

Nestlé’s recent innovation drives have included reducing sugar, salt and saturated fat content and increasing positive nutrients to improve the nutritional profile of its products. The company also hopes to address wider issues through science and technology, such as non-communicable diseases, micronutrient deficiencies and sustainability.

The scientific discoveries of Nestlé Research are translated by Nestlé’s category-specific product and technology centres into innovations fuelling business growth, the company revealed. An example of such an innovation is the recently launched chocolate bar Milkybar Wowsomes, which uses Nestlé’s new structured sugar to reduce sugar by 30% while using only natural ingredients and no sweeteners.

"Pushing the boundaries in innovation and developing an understanding of the impact of good nutrition on people’s health has been at the core of Nestlé since the very beginning of the company,"​ said Paul Bulcke, Nestlé Chairman. "The strengthening of our research organization will enable us to accelerate insights, discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Switzerland’s collaborative research landscape creates the ideal environment for this."

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