General Mills today reported significant progress in its ability to swiftly identify and connect with potential partners around the globe through the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network (G-WIN) innovation portal. In the company’s first year using the portal, General Mills has attracted more than 1,000 registered innovators from around the world and has received more than 500 proposals.
“A year ago, we accelerated our connected innovation efforts by launching the G-WIN portal,” said Jeff Bellairs, senior director, General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network. “We openly articulated what we were looking for and invited the inventor community to collaborate and participate. The response has been tremendous and has helped us tap into the external expertise and capabilities of innovators around the globe as we continually evolve our connected innovation program, ” he said.
The G-WIN portal, developed in collaboration with software firm inno360, Inc., is a web-based platform that offers inventors and potential business partners a first step in connecting with General Mills. The site allows visitors to review full details of posted technical challenges and create and submit nonconfidential proposals. Registered visitors can also create and manage their profiles and receive ongoing information about future technical challenges that match their unique capabilities and expertise. In addition, the software platform allows General Mills product developers to manage and review submissions, collaborate with innovation partners, and follow projects.
The framework behind the G-WIN portal software has been under development for more than two years through a cooperative development partnership between inno360, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, and the US Air Force Research Laboratory. Through this unique partnership, General Mills has been instrumental in bringing new enhancements to the tool, including access to a searchable inventor database and cutting-edge mapping and visualization tools, which help General Mills product developers connect with the most relevant contacts around the world.
“As a core member of our cooperative development partnership, the G-WIN team leverages the inno360™ innovation framework throughout their activities,” said Glenn Wienkoop, CEO of inno360, Inc. “Companies today want to innovate seamlessly internally, externally, and across their entire supplier communities. This kind of networking requires a unique framework, and the inno360 innovation engine provides these types of connection opportunities in minutes.”
“Over the past year, General Mills has made tremendous progress in their Connected Innovation program,” said Chris Thoen, director of global open innovation at Procter & Gamble. “Jeff Bellairs and his team have consistently demonstrated the core attributes that an exemplary collaborator is expected to bring to the open innovation relationship.”
History of open innovation at General Mills
In 2005, General Mills identified open innovation as a key strategic priority and formed a team charged with creating programs and processes to identify and engage external partners. In the spring of 2007, the company formalized its open innovation efforts and officially launched G-WIN to let the world know that it was actively seeking ideas from the outside. The original G-WIN website, also launched in 2007, shared information about the program and invited outside partners to submit their patent or patent-pending ideas for consideration.
Today, G-WIN has an External Partner Development group dedicated to building creative business models and relationships that are beneficial to both the partners and to General Mills.
Since the launch of G-WIN, more than 40 new General Mills products have incorporated a significant portion of open innovation, including Fiber One® Bars, Pillsbury® Savorings, Progresso® Light soups, Yoplait® Smoothie, and Wanchai Ferry frozen dinner kits.
Visit GeneralMills /WIN to view current partnership opportunities with General Mills’ iconic brands. The company is interested in product, package and processing technologies that are applicable to the company’s categories or brands, uniquely meet an unmet consumer need, have been proven technically feasible and can be applied quickly, or are potentially game-changing for the food industry.
To learn more about General Mills’ innovation strategy, view the company’s website, G-WIN You Tube channel, or see videos of General Mills' Peter Erickson and Jeff Bellairs discussing connected innovation and G-WIN on inno360’s website.
inno360, Inc. (inno-360.com) is the leading provider of a global Software as a Service (SaaS) platform for open innovation. inno360™ empowers companies to drive organic growth, achieve order-of-magnitude improvements in innovation effectiveness and productivity through the availability of “infinite innovation™” ecosystems created through a unique innovation engine. inno360 enables private and public clients to dynamically define new networks of knowledge and best fit talent, and rapidly build their own proprietary innovation ecosystems. The platform includes access to millions of global innovators and leading-edge technology. Included capabilities assist with problem definition, Innovator Relationship Management™ (IRM), innovation campaigns, internal and external collaboration, and proposal management. Together, these capabilities and innovation communities provide an unparalleled foundation for organizations to drive top-line growth and bottom-line results by accelerating time to innovation - globally. The Company was co-founded by visionary venture capital firm SpencerTrask&Co and some of the world’s leading visionaries and pioneers in open collaboration.
About General Mills
One of the world's leading food companies, General Mills (generalmills.com) operates in more than 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2010 global net sales of US$16 billion, including the company’s $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint venture net sales.