General Mills searching for innovative ideas

Minnesotan food giant General Mills (GM) has launched a scheme seeking patented or patent-pending food ideas from 'external partners' in a drive to 'accelerate innovation' in the food industry.

The initiative, called Worldwide Innovation Network, has a dedicated website ( where GM states: "If you have a technology idea that you think might be of interest to us, please read on to learn more about our technology submission process."

GM said it is particularly interested in developing baking products, cereals, frozen vegetables, pastries, pizza, snacks, snack bars, fruit snacks, popcorn, salty snacks, organics, yoghurt and yoghurt beverages, and soy beverages. The WIN website notes applications will be processed within three months, that all submissions are nonconfidential and only patent or patent-pending ideas will be considered. It states: "We can only accept technology ideas — we cannot accept any advertising, marketing or promotions ideas.

"We have formalised our external innovation initiative to ensure potential partners recognise that we are not only open to new ideas, we are actively seeking them," said Peter Erickson, General Mills' senior vice president of innovation, technology and quality.

"A focus on external innovation has been a critical competitive advantage for General Mills. We believe the next big advance, which may reshape the food industry, has already been invented by someone outside the company, and our goal is to be the first to find it."

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