Case Study

How Givaudan’s Innovation Teams Collaborate with MassChallenge Startups Before the Pitch Stage to Tremendous Success


Givaudan, a global leader of Flavours, Food Ingredients, Fragrances and Active Cosmetic Ingredients  and with revenues of over CHF6 billion sales per year, partnered with MassChallenge Switzerland to advance their forward-thinking innovation initiatives and evolve their company culture to better foster adaptability. 

The Challenge


“We don’t know what we don’t know” is a common sentiment within Givaudan’s innovations teams. A company over 250 years old, Givaudan is well aware of the risks and dangers of overly relying on successful business models of the past and overlooking new methods and technologies. Specifically, new industries and technologies which have the potential to disrupt or make existing ones obsolete.

Givaudan became a founding partner of MassChallenge Switzerland in 2016, to continue their practice of adaptability and broadening their business technologies with smart and thorough collaboration sourcing.

Finding the Right Startups

With an emphasis on exposure to innovation, Givaudan teamed with MassChallenge for its unique program approach. While MassChallenge’s industry agnostic approach attracts a large pool of potentially disruptive ideas, it was the collaborative approach with their partners that Givaudan saw as the greatest benefit in participating.


While keeping an eye on all the startups coming through, regardless of industry, each year Givaudan works with MassChallenge on focus-areas their innovation teams are looking at that year. The areas could be in a range of areas including food sustainability, fragrance technology,  or digital expansion.

With the startup Microcaps, a 2019 Switzerland finalist, the area Givaudan was focusing on was in microencapsulation for flavors and fragrances.

Microcaps solves a common problem with microencapsulation – the trade-off between high throughput and precise particle size, a crucial factor for increased stability and controlled release. The startup has developed a novel technology that solves this problem by enabling precise microencapsulation at industrial scale.


Givaudan’s collaboration with Microcaps is being explored to both bolster their own approach to flavor and fragrant control, and also as a service to their many clients in food, beverage, nutrition and consumer products.

This is just one of many collaborative relationships Givaudan has created through MassChallenge , and they have found a high rate of success.

How Givaudan Works with MassChallenge

Partnering with MassChallange has led to growth and expansion in their innovation initiatives for Givaudan. They were able to expand into the digital space by partnering with SensorWake – the first olfactive alarm clock which has already hit the market space and is now developing new products for sleep aid in 2016.

Givaudan expanded into an emerging business field with MixFit, focusing on flavor development for products that are not constant such as personalized nutritional supplements in 2017.

And more recently, they have begun the new collaboration with Microcaps.

The key to Givaudan’s success is not a passive experience with MassChallenge, merely using the network to hear pitches and glimpse emerging trends. However, by participating in the pre-application process and maintaining their presence throughout the cohort they are able to understand the teams behind the industry solutions they are after and pursue those that fit their organization’s approach to innovation. The approach is highly collaborative, as opposed to contract or acquisition focused.

A real key to their high success rate is the structure of their innovation teams that are established to partner with the startups before a pitch comes to the company. These internal resources called “Innovation Ambassadors” work on behalf of both Givaudan and the startup. The ambassadors work with their chosen startups to best craft their pitch and areas of synergy specifically for Givaudan, so that there is a genuine investment and interest before the startups come present to a larger group of stakeholders.eth_pioneer_fellows_2018_125-250

“Givaudan’s approach made it very compelling for us,” said Michael Hagander, co-Founder and co-CEO of Microcaps. “Even before the pitch, they made it clear which Givaudan team members we were going to be working with, and this makes the pitch much more targeted and focused on Givaudan’s needs instead of us trying to intuit their goals. For example, they shared with us the market potential that existed for our collaboration – they wanted us to make a really strong pitch to the executive team. So it wasn’t just ‘hey I’m presenting a technology and somebody is telling me this might be interesting.’ Givaudan really took the effort to work with us even before we had any type of formal agreement.”

How often does this method generate a successful collaboration? “It has happened every year,” said Alexandre Bastos, Global Director of Innovation at Givaudan.

Alexandre further stated: “We work with a number of other accelerators, but with MassChallenge we have the benefit of them really understanding our strategy. We know MassChallenge is looking to support entrepreneurs and the startups they accept, but at the same time we know they will always be looking for opportunities that will support Givaudan’s strategy.”

About Givaudan

Givaudan is a global leading company in taste and wellbeing, and fragrance and beauty. With its heritage stretching back over 250 years, the Company has a long history of innovating scents and tastes. From a favourite drink to your daily meal, from prestige perfumes to cosmetics and laundry care, its creations inspire emotions and delight millions of consumers the world over. The Company is committed to driving purpose-led, long-term growth while leading the way to improve happiness and health for people and nature. In the fiscal year 2020, the Company employed almost 16,000 people worldwide and achieved sales of CHF 6.3 billion and a free cash flow of 12.8% of sales. Let’s imagine together on

About Microcaps

Microcaps’s unique and patented technology allows the development and manufacturing of microcapsules at an unmatched precision and efficiency. This provides customers with tailored microencapsulation solutions that enable precise release of contents. Offering individual benefits for different applications; controlled release, targeted delivery, and shear-free encapsulation, the technology has its largest impact potential in the fields of pharmaceuticals, nutrition and cosmetics. The company has recently announced a CHF 5 Million seed round to enable product commercialization and business expansion. For opportunities in microencapsulation, visit

About MassChallenge

MassChallenge is the global network for innovators. Headquartered in the United States with seven locations worldwide, MassChallenge equips bold entrepreneurs to disrupt the status quo and to create meaningful change. Since launching in 2009, more than 2,400 MassChallenge alumni have raised more than $6.2B in funding, generated more than $3B in revenue, and created more than 157,000 total jobs. Learn more about MassChallenge at