A circular way is the way to go - Danish Food Cluster

A circular way is the way to go

Chocolate and flowers are always a good match. At InnovateFood 2019, they came together like never before. Innovative ideas filled the room when four teams of students and leading experts met to solve some of today’s pressing industry challenges at University of Copenhagen.

  • How can we turn used cardboard into a premium chocolate box?
  • How can we improve the flavor of plant-based products?
  • How can we brand a healthier ice cream?
  • How can we reduce sugar without adding artificial ingredients?

Many different questions were to be answered on 15 November at University of Copenhagen, where 2019 took place. And it was a melting pot of competences when the answer for the questions and company challenges were found.

A strategic design director, a food chemist, a branding researcher, a lawyer, and students within the fields of food science, marketing, business development, and so on.

Despite the different questions and themes of, one approach turned out to be the answer to many of the questions – and it is called design thinking.

When working with company challenges, which the students do for today’s case competition, it is important to think and work in a circular way. You do not necessarily have to start with the product itself but instead start with the consumer; look at the context, user needs, and get new inputs that lead back to the supply chain and to the product itself,” said Jens Christiansen, Lead Designer at DesignIt, who along with Director at DesignIt, Asger Østerbeck, was expert and keynote speaker at 2019.

And the consumer context was the focal point for team Procudan:

In real life, consumers want to be sustainable and healthy but when they are in the super market, they focus on taste and convenience,” said the consumer scientist student, Louise Mørk, when presenting the team’s solution; a combination of the aspirational and actual consumer needs in the ingredients they presented to Procudan: Potato, seaweed, algae, mushroom, spent grain.

And Procudan was ready to bring the suggestions with them home:

It has been a really giving day. All in all, the day has lived up to our high expectations and  even exceeded the expectations. We had a really motivated team of students that came up with interesting inputs, and a group of experts with very different competences. They gave us inputs that have made us reflect on the way we are going as a company,” said Lene Andresen, Supply Chain Director at Procudan.

The judge panel consisted of, from right: Nanna Viereck from University of Copenhagen, Johanne Arnet from Rockstart, Julia Laursen from Nestlé and Frederik Nygaard from SCIENCE Innovation Hub.

A plant in a chocolate-box

Another solution, actually the winning solution, was team Konnerup & Co’s chocolate box made from reused cardboard, cacao-shells, and bees wax. It was more than a sustainable gift box – a gift that keeps on giving, as the reused cardboard contained flower-seeds, which can be planted when the box is empty.

The creative and implementation-ready solution ensured team Konnerup & Co the victory and the new title as winner of 2019:

This team won because they were very creative and delivered a solution ready to be implemented right away. Also, they focused on sustainability, which is a very important topic today, and they showed us how to solve some of the current sustainability issues,” said Julia Laursen, Nordic Market Nutritionist at Nestlé, who was part of the judge panel. is an open innovation concept created by Danish Food Cluster, for the third year in a row.

This year, had the following collaborative partners: IBM, Central Denmark Region, DesignIt, Nestlé, Department of Food Science at University of Copenhagen, and Arla.

Pictures from the event

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