Nestle launches regional accelerator to drive development and testing of food tech ideas

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong (left) at Nestle R&D Centre's anniversary event, where staff shared about innovations done with Milo.
Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong (left) at Nestle R&D Centre's anniversary event, where staff shared about innovations done with Milo.PHOTO: NESTLE SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Global food giant Nestle has launched a new regional research and development (R&D) accelerator to drive innovation in food technology, as part of its upgraded facilities in Singapore. 

The accelerator will be a platform for start-ups, students and the company’s employees in the region to develop and test ideas commercially in under six months, providing access to the company’s expertise and small- to medium-scale production equipment. 

It was unveiled alongside Nestle’s upgraded R&D facilities on Monday (Aug 23), which include experimental kitchens, open working spaces and its research hub. These capabilities will enable quicker translation of research insights into products, the company said. 

The expansion of Nestle’s R&D centre is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).

Speaking at Nestle R&D Centre’s 40th anniversary event, which was held virtually on Monday, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said: “I am heartened that MNCs (multinational corporations) like Nestle are committed to supporting innovation among start-ups and educational institutions while developing talent at the same time. 

“This is a very good example of a ground-up initiative by the private sector that will have positive spillovers for the larger corporate ecosystem.”

Mr Gan highlighted how the company’s R&D centre has collaborated with public research institutions, academia and local enterprises in Singapore over the years, and these partnerships play an important role in Singapore’s innovation ecosystem. 

He also noted Nestle’s plans to strengthen its capabilities in plant-based meats and to localise products to capture the growing market in Asia. 

This comes on the back of recent investments in Singapore’s food tech ecosystem by other industry players such as Swiss flavours and fragrances manufacturer Givaudan and Eat Just, a maker of plant-based alternatives headquartered in the United States.

Nestle’s efforts will further enhance Singapore’s position as an innovation leader in alternative proteins, Mr Gan said. 

EDB executive vice-president Cindy Koh said that Nestle’s accelerator programme will catalyse further partnerships in Singapore’s food tech ecosystem, generating positive spillover effects through knowledge and technology transfer, which will strengthen the local talent base in the sector. 

Nestle, which opened its first manufacturing plant here in 1968, employs more than 600 people in Singapore and markets more than 500 different products ranging from ice cream to soya sauce. 

Mr Chris Johnson, Nestle chief executive for Asia, Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa, said: “If you want to be successful in our business, you need a good understanding of the flavours people love, the dishes they want to serve to their families, the food trends they want to try. 

“That’s why it’s so important to have a research and development team in Singapore, here in the heart of South-east Asia, a centre of excellence driving innovation and product development in Asia, for Asia.”

The company’s R&D centre in Singapore has contributed to the innovation of various products, such as powdered chocolate beverage Milo, plant-based food products and non-dairy coffee creamers.