Case Study

How the World Leader in Chocolate Taps into Open Innovation to Make Its Vision Come True 

The Barry Callebaut Group, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, partnered with MassChallenge Switzerland to bring its commitment to innovation to the next level and support Forever Chocolate, Barry Callebaut’s plan to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025.

The Challenge

Barry Callebaut runs close to 60 production facilities worldwide and employs close to 12,000 people, serving the entire food industry from global food manufacturers to artisanal and professional users of chocolate. As a world leader, the Group is committed to achieving Forever Chocolate, which includes achieving 100% sustainable ingredients in all Barry Callebaut products by 2025.

In order to reach this goal, the Barry Callebaut Group also needs access to new product ideas and innovative solutions for sustainable raw material sourcing or further reducing the Group’s carbon footprint. Barry Callebaut is looking for exposure to disruptive technology and business models outside their internal resources, to shorten innovation cycles and become a more adaptable industry leader.

The Solution

As an industry agnostic accelerator program, MassChallenge Switzerland is an ideal match for Barry Callebaut. Bringing under one umbrella an exclusive set of startups across technologies such as IoT, big data, and cloud computing – which may be otherwise accepted only in industry-specific programs – gives Barry Callebaut maximum exposure to the brightest solutions.

Barry Callebaut uses this exposure to explore new efforts in strengthening its sustainable sourcing activities as well as global supply chain sustainability in agriculture and food manufacturing. Additionally, they are able to learn and adopt new agile methods for engaging its global workforce within the MassChallenge program environment.

Along with the accepted startups, Barry Callebaut is introduced to new possible business collaborations and opportunities with other MassChallenge corporate sponsors inside and outside of their specific industry.

The Results

By partnering with MassChallenge Switzerland, the Barry Callebaut Group is able to reach “non-traditional” audiences using innovation to reinforce their public commitment towards sustainability, social and environment compliancy.

For new product development, the group worked with Solo Gelato (MassChallenge Switzerland 2016). They created the world’s first single-use capsule system for instant fresh ice-cream. This new product does not directly compete with any of Barry Callebaut’s offerings and is opening a whole new avenue of business that did not previously exist.

To optimize innovation investment with an aim towards improving margins and expanding to new markets, the group worked with Insolite (2016) to decrease energy costs with solar panels, and Carbon Delta (2017) to identify and analyze the climate change resilience of publicly traded companies.

To harness the energy and the pro-active startup approach, Barry Callebaut built a designated internal web page for continuously informing its employees. This resource allows everybody in the company to stay up-to-date of the joint activities with MassChallenge Switzerland. It is also a means to engage them for opportunities MassChallenge can offer to them, be it as experts (in the form of mentors, judges, and speakers) or as participants in the accelerator program as a corporate innovation team.

“MassChallenge Switzerland is for us an observation deck. It is like having access to an innovation control room. Just taking the 2018 edition into account, it is a privilege to have access to over 1,000 potentially disruptive ideas, and help promising high-impact startups make a change for the better.

But one must also be aware that a good idea is not enough. The road to implementation is maybe the more challenging part and this is why I feel that the corporate and startup collaborations can form a perfect symbiosis: one side holds the disruptive idea but the other side holds the industry knowledge and expertise that can make that idea work at scale.”

-Massimo Selmo – Head of Global Sourcing, Barry Callebaut and Board Member MassChallenge Switzerland

About Barry Callebaut

With annual sales of about CHF 6.9 billion in fiscal year 2017/18, the Zurich-based Barry Callebaut Group is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products – from sourcing and processing cocoa beans to producing the finest chocolates, including chocolate fillings, decorations and compounds. The Group runs about 60 production facilities worldwide and employs a diverse and dedicated global workforce of more than 11,500 people.

The Barry Callebaut Group serves the entire food industry, from industrial food manufacturers to artisanal and professional users of chocolate, such as chocolatiers, pastry chefs, bakers, hotels, restaurants or caterers. The two global brands catering to the specific needs of these Gourmet customers are Callebaut® and Cacao Barry®. The Barry Callebaut Group is committed to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025 to help ensure future supplies of cocoa and improve farmer livelihoods. It supports the Cocoa Horizons Foundation in its goal to shape a sustainable cocoa and chocolate future.

About MassChallenge Switzerland

MassChallenge is a global network of zero-equity startup accelerators. Headquartered in the United States with locations in Boston, Rhode Island, Israel, Mexico, Switzerland, Texas and the UK, MassChallenge is committed to strengthening the global innovation ecosystem by supporting high-potential early stage startups across all industries, from anywhere in the world.

Founded in 2016, MassChallenge Switzerland has quickly become a leading driver of innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe by connecting startups with the experts and resources they need to grow. From developing AI-assisted smart eyewear for people with vision loss to using drones for viticulture, our alumni are changing the world for the better.

The MassChallenge Switzerland Founding Partners are Barry Callebaut, Bühler, GEA, Givaudan, Inartis Foundation, Nestlé, Swiss Economic Forum.