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General Mills Named Open Innovation Partner of Choice by marcus evans Conferences


General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network Program Accelerating the Pace of Innovation at General Mills

General Mills today was presented with the Open Innovation Partner of Choice Award by marcus evans conferences at the Fourth Annual Open Innovation Conference in Philadelphia. Jeff Bellairs, senior director of the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network, and a cross-functional team from General Mills accepted the award on behalf of the company.

General Mills was placed into nomination for the accomplishments of its Worldwide Innovation Network (G-WIN), the company’s global connected innovation program which accelerates the pace of innovation at General Mills.

“We are thrilled to be named the Open Innovation Partner of Choice by marcus evans,” Bellairs said. “It’s a tremendous statement by our industry peers, and we are proud of the achievements we have made over the past five years to advance open innovation through the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network.”

General Mills was selected through a process that elicited the response of peers and innovation leaders from a cross-section of North American industries, including past delegates of the annual marcus evans Open Innovation series of conferences. A panel of judges determined the Open Innovation Partner of Choice winner based on the nominee’s exceptional contribution to the discipline or practice of open innovation based on the following criteria:

* Demonstrate the core attributes that an exemplary collaborator is understood to bring to the open innovation relationship.
* Manage a structured discipline for the creation and performance of external collaborative partnerships that is both flexible and designed to lay the foundation for ongoing innovation partnerships.
* Establish a proven track record or “open project” portfolio that illustrates the ability to excel with innovation partners from both up and down the enterprise value chain.
* Promote an organizational culture that fosters a movement beyond cultural barriers to innovation such as the “not invented here” mentality.
* Install a group of external collaborators that possess the skills necessary to navigate the unique hurdles of open innovation.

“Marcus evans is honored to present the second annual Open Innovation Partner of Choice Award to General Mills. By engaging the open innovation community through our industry-leading Open Innovation conferences, we have seen the concept transform from a nascent business theory to an enterprise-wide strategy,” said Michael Bury, conference director, marcus evans. “This award recognizes the success General Mills has seen at each stage along the road to implementation. To be recognized by one’s peers, especially in a field where partnerships are the key to success, is a notable achievement. We wish General Mills continued success with the G-WIN program.”

Open innovation has proven to be a successful strategy for 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 outside of the company.

“Embracing a culture of open innovation has allowed us to connect more effectively across a spectrum of innovation possibilities to meet our business needs – from colleagues and suppliers to other food companies or perhaps companies in entirely different industries,” Bellairs said. “We humbly acknowledge that there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done to advance our program to truly realize all of the potential of open innovation.”

Since the program’s launch, 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.

General Mills is dedicated to building meaningful and sustainable relationships that will not only benefit the company and its brands, but also its external partners. Partners who help the company achieve its innovation goals can benefit from General Mills’ resources, scale and credibility in the marketplace to advance their own business.

In 2009, the company made it easier for external partners to connect with General Mills through the G-WIN innovation portal, online at Visitors to the site can now view and respond to the company’s list of nearly 50 technical challenges or submit their own novel ideas.

General Mills 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. The company will evaluate proposals and will respond to all submissions within three weeks.

About General Mills
One of the world’s leading food companies, General Mills operates in more than 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, 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 2009 global net sales of US$15.9 billion, including the company’s $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint venture net sales.


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