UK grocer Sainsbury’s has called on start-ups and scale-ups to use technology to help increase its products’ shelf life and sell-through while reducing food waste.
The challenge is part of the Made Smarter Technology Accelerator programme, of which Sainsbury’s is one of seven corporate partners. Led by innovation group Digital Catapult, the initiative aims to encourage manufacturers to team up with tech companies to help drive technological change in UK business.
Made Smarter, itself, is a national movement to drive growth amongst UK makers and advance the UK economy, and it is backed by businesses and the British government.
Sainsbury’s and the other six partners, including BAE Systems and Babcock International Group, have set challenges that – if solved – would help bring beneficial change to their organisations.
The grocer said food manufacturers fail to maximise shelf life and quality of food on a consistent basis due to supply chain and raw material complexities.
Against that backdrop, Sainsbury’s is seeking the development of real-time data collection and interrogation mechanisms, and data based automated feedback and control loops, allowing inter-relationships to be identified and managed along an integrated supply chain. Indeed, reducing food waste is a key goal for the major UK food retailers.
As part of the accelerator programme, Sainsbury’s is also looking for solutions to guarantee the absence of specific bacteria in ready-to-eat products sold in its stores.
Successful applicants to the challenges will receive up to £20,000 funding each and a platform to grow as they develop prototypes to address these UK business issues. In return for both match-funded financial and in-kind contributions, partners such as Sainsbury’s will gain direct access to the outputs and learnings of the programme as well as have proof of concepts developed for the challenges set.
Later in the programme, a further £100,000 will be available to successful companies to develop minimum viable products. Applications for the initiative close on 7 February 2021.
The other corporate partners involved in the scheme, which have each set their own challenges, are GAF, Northumbrian Water Group, O’Neills Irish International Sports, and Safran Landing Systems.
Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult, commented: “The Made Smarter Technology Accelerator will make visible how a range of disruptive emerging technologies will really work to benefit early industrial adopters.
“It will also clarify routes to market for digital innovators. The outcomes from this programme are really positive, we will see new and traditional businesses working together – making enormous savings, significantly improving productivity, developing new business models, boosting exports and delivering on challenging net-zero targets.”
[Image credit: Sainsbury’s]