The Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center (WFSCC) hosted the Walmart Food Safety Innovation Pipeline Round 3 Innovation Draft Day in Shenzhen. A total of 150 participants, including senior executives from Walmart China, representatives from Starbucks, New Hope Liuhe, Want Want Group and Cargill, members of the Walmart Food Safety Innovation Council, finalists, industry leaders in food and retail and media representatives attended the event.
The Walmart Food Safety Innovation Pipeline is a unique initiative designed to generate new and creative ways to solve both persistent and emerging issues in food safety through technology. Aiming to improve food safety through collaboration and innovation, the Innovation Pipeline brings together different key actors from across the value chain to identify critical food safety issues and challenge fresh thinking on solutions. The Innovation Pipeline ultimately aims to fast track the most promising solutions by testing them in the real-world supply chains of Walmart and its partners.
Since launching in 2017, the Innovation Pipeline has successfully organized two rounds. More than 70 proposals were pitched covering a variety of topics, from cold chain temperature control, to sustainable packaging, product traceability and rapid testing. Selected previous winners earned the opportunity to develop pilot projects with Walmart China or to explore future business opportunities.
Will Watts, Senior Director of the WFSCC, said, "Like a startup itself, the Innovation Pipeline has grown, scaled, and pivoted over the last three years. We are proud of the growing food safety innovation community built around the Innovation Pipeline as well as the impact our past winners are already having in the industry. Round 3 is our most ambitious round yet, inviting applicants from around the globe as well as creating opportunities for applicants in global markets. Along with our strengthened Innovation Council, we are living our motto 'to innovate for safe food, together.'"
Round 3 of the Innovation Pipeline focuses on supply chain insights that advance transparency and improve food safety from farm to fork. Since the WFSCC launched the request for proposals on May 30, 2019, the Innovation Pipeline received 64 proposals from domestic and overseas companies and organizations, a significant increase from previous rounds. Applicants presented a variety of solutions from across the supply chain, from AI-assisted supply chain management, to next generation cold chain logistics, to rapid testing and agricultural data platforms. This year, the Innovation Pipeline welcomed greater participation from international applicants, representing 20 percent of total applications.
After careful review by the WFSCC and the Innovation Council, 19 finalists were announced to advance to the Innovation Draft Day on August 2. From September 3 to 6, the WFSCC welcomed finalists to the distribution centers, stores, factories and offices of Walmart China and industry partners in Shanghai, Beijing and Dongguan, Guangdong province. Through these site visits, finalists gained a better understanding of real-world supply chain operations and stakeholder needs to further refine their final proposals.
The Innovation Pipeline's continued success is supported by the Walmart Food Safety Innovation Council. Established by the WFSCC, the Innovation Council is a group of cross-sector leaders from food and beverage, retail, logistics, investment, tech, trade associations and startup incubators, who guide the direction of the Innovation Pipeline, mentor finalists, and identify potential pilot and investment opportunities on behalf of their organizations. This year, the Walmart Food Safety Innovation Pipeline has attracted more companies and organizations to join as partners, increasing the size of the Innovation Council to 25 members. These leaders bring immense industry resources and insights to the Innovation Pipeline, provide in-depth and tailored advice to finalists and generate more pilot and investment opportunities.
During the event, project leads from each finalist team presented their projects and fielded questions from the Innovation Council. During the pitch session and Q A, Walmart USA, Walmart China, New Hope Liuhe, Want Want Group, Sustenture/Pacific Insights and Jiangmen drafted eight different finalists (see below), in the areas of biological testing and evaluation, smart cold chain temperature monitoring and management, fruit and vegetable shelf-life extension and mold control technology, digital food quality assessment and food traceability and transparency etc. The above companies and the drafted finalist teams will further discuss pilots and other business opportunities.
• New Hunter Testing and Technology, Inc.
• ZenMeasure Technology (Beijing) Co. LTD.
• EVIGENCE Sensors
• PURESPACE INC.
• Intello Labs Private Limited
• Varcode LTD
• Mininglamp Technology
• The NEOM Company
Based on judges' evaluation of finalist projects in terms of relevance, innovation, market readiness as well as economic and social benefits, four award winners were selected for Round 3:
• Cost Savings Award – Cardinal Operations• Sustainability Award – EVIGENCE Sensors
• Customer Focused Award – V-Mark Intelligence Technology Co., Ltd.
• International Collaboration Award – Varcode LTD
Dr. Zhinong Yan, Executive Director of the WFSCC, congratulated the drafted finalists and their respective partner companies from the Innovation Council as well as the award winners. He said, "We look forward to the implementation of more pilots to push food safety in China forward and hope that the Innovation Pipeline can continue to bring more innovative technologies to the food safety management system, to improve supply chain transparency and increase consumer trust."
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