Panel: Venturing Together into the Unknown

Alexandre Bastos, Ilanit Kabessa, Menno van der Zalm & Natascha Eckert

Head of Front End Innovation at Givaudan | Agri-food Tech & Corporate Venturing Expert | Global Director Innovation at AzkoNobel | Global Head of University Relations at Siemens

as recorded on 17 February 2022 as part of Innov8rs Connect on Startup Collaboration & Ecosystem Engagement

World-changing inventions have been uncovered by innovators willing to scrap conventional wisdom. But, how do you define the business case if you don't know what you're looking for? How do you measure progress along the way? And how to keep stakeholders on all sides happy if you don't understand yet if you will be delivering real impact?

In this session Alexandre Bastos, Ilanit Kabessa, Menno van der Zalm and Natascha Eckert shared their perspectives and experiences on those questions.

About the speaker

Alexandre Bastos’ role leading the Front End Innovation programme at the taste & wellbeing division of Givaudan, is to explore emerging food technologies, business models and adjacent spaces, while bringing new opportunities by connecting with start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovation thought leaders that are disrupting the food and agriculture ecosystem. Alexandre is an active leader in the Givaudan journey to drive a more collaborative and inclusive working model to deliver innovation. From innovation in taste science and technology to broader innovation in agri and foodtech, Givaudan knows what innovation in its broadest sense means. “Our view on innovation is holistic and broad, but we are always focusing on the product, solutions, technology and experience we deliver to our customers and enable the food of the future and the future of our food system,” states Alexandre.

Ilanit Kabessa Cohen is an Agri-Food Tech venturing & innovation expert with a proven track record of over 20 years. Her work is focused on building Multinational Corporates (MNC’s) strategic growth engines, collaborations portfolio, investments strategies, ventures teams and processes. To date Ilanit has built 5 Innovation / Venturing activities for 3 Agri-Food MNC’s. Career positions include Venture Partner Novozymes Advanced Proteins (Denmark), Head Dole Ventures, (Singapore) Head of Innovation and Digital Business unit, Nestle and Head of Nestle Open Innovation Hub (Israel / Switzerland). All positions and innovation / venturing related activities were founded and established by Ilanit from strategy to execution, including end-to-end responsibilities. Ilanit developed an innovation and collaboration portfolio for over 20 brands bringing hundreds of products to the global market. Ilanit has been working in the global Agri-Food start-up scene since its nascent days and is an instrumental member as co-founder of the Israeli Agri-Food Tech ecosystem, as well as an active player in the Global Agri-Food Tech scene. Ilanit has developed a vast network of Ag-tech and Food-Tech start-ups, technology partners, academic research centers, VC’s, CVC’s and NGO’s covering Israel, Europe, Asia and US. Ilanit is a public speaker, start-ups mentor, and a great believer in the role of innovation & start-ups in shaping the global economy.

Menno van der Zalm is running AkzoNobel’s incubation and venturing team, focusing on internal and external adjacent and transformative innovation. With relevant experience in innovation management consulting, he shaped a ‘fit for AkzoNobel’ organization and governance structure which nurtures a ring-fenced portfolio of collaborative innovation projects and strategic minority investments. Before joining AkzoNobel in 2017, Menno was a business & strategy consultant at Monitor Deloitte, Capgemini Consulting and Altran Technology & Innovation.

For more than 20 years Natascha has been active in various leading roles within Corporate Research and Innovation at Siemens and Osram. She has a long-year experience in the University-Industry-Business, currently managing Siemens’ global strategic partner programs with universities and research institutes. Natascha has a long-year history in Siemens’ international technology and innovation management and was responsible for expanding Siemens Corporate Technology’s footprint to Asia and Russia. For many years Natascha has coordinated the company’s engagement in manifold external research and innovation organizations and bodies, e.g. Bayerische Forschungsstiftung, Stifterverband, Forschungsunion, acatech and DAAD. Currently she holds seats in the University Council of University of Passau (DE), TUM Board of Trustees (DE), Bayern Innovative Board of Trustees (DE), University of Nottingham Research Advisory Group (UK), Kutaisi International University Industry Advisory Council (GE) and the Practitioners Committee of UIIN (University Industry Innovation Network). Additionally, Natascha is member or the UIDP (University Industry Partnership Development). Natascha holds a PhD degree in BA / Strategic Management from Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and had worked for several years as strategic consultant for various companies.

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