Innovation Challenge

Our Innovation Challenges are created to locate best-in-class practices mainly in the fields of technology and food.

By collaborating with some of the best start-ups, entrepreneurs, companies and technologies in the world, we believe we can find the breakthrough innovation that will improve how we do business and better meet our consumer’s evolving needs.


TitleSeeking scalable technologies to build uniform thin liquid film on materials
Summary DescriptionWe are seeking technologies for building thin, uniform liquid films on food materials
Description
General Mills, a 17+ billion dollar food company, has the following need: Technologies for creating uniform liquid films on food materials at micro-scale thickness.

We seek proposals that present novel high-speed processes to enable creation of uniform, sub-millimeter thick liquid films on food materials.

The food, polymer and particulates industry employ a range of technologies for creating thin liquid films of specialized formulations on the products. Such thin films could serve many purposes, including improvement of aesthetic or functional performance of the product or material. Unfortunately, conventional processes such as nozzle spray or atomization or fluidized beds or tumbling drums build non-uniform, thicker liquid films, and thus, require large quantities of the coating formulation. Consequently, we are seeking technologies that enable uniform coating of low concentration liquid formulations onto food materials (between 90-99% of the surface area), with a coating thickness in the order of 2-4 micrometer. We welcome solutions analogous to technologies from the fields of confectionery, pharmaceuticals, electronics, textiles, flame retardants, and agro-chemicals, where processes for controlled thin film-coating of materials is well established. Any proposed solution should be scalable to industrial processing rates.
Possible Approaches
Possible approaches may include but are not limited to
  1. improved versions of fluidized beds and tumbling drums.
  2. nozzles or atomization systems or electro-spraying technologies.
  3. high-speed vapor condensation technology.
Criteria
Any solution submitted will be evaluated against the following criteria
  1. Rate of coating application and scalability.
  2. Uniformity and thickness of the film.
  3. Ability to operate between ambient temperature to 200 ˚F.
  4. Ability to clean the system
Solutions Not of Interest
Not applicable
Proposal Deadline5/4/2019

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TitleSeeking a compact mobile platform for rapid on-field fruit quality measurement
Summary DescriptionWe are seeking a portable analytical device for rapid on-field measurement of the fruit quality
Description
General Mills, a 17+ billion dollar food company, has the following need: A device or integrated suite of sensors in a small form factor for on-field measurement of fruit quality traits.

General Mills always ensures the use of highest quality of agricultural produce and ingredients for manufacturing its products. When buying agricultural raw material, it is necessary to quickly make procurement decisions based on selected quality parameters.

At present buyers employ experience based subjective produce quality traits. To ensure absolute consistency in product quality and quick conveyance of decision to growers, General Mills is interested in cost-effective, rapid, on-field quantitative measurement of fruit quality. Consequently, we are seeking a sensor suite or portable device to measure fruit quality traits including, total soluble solids (TSS), acidity, pH, color, size, flavor intensity and texture.
Possible Approaches
Possible approaches may include but are not limited to a suite of miniaturized mechanical and/or chemical and/or electrical and/or electrochemical and/or optical sensors operating on accepted soft modeling paradigms. Any calibration data required should preferably be stored locally; however, we would also consider solutions involving data hosted on remote cloud based platforms. We would favor commercially available platforms, but would also consider solutions in developmental stage that are straightforward to commercialize.
Criteria
Any solution submitted will be evaluated against the following criteria
  1. Cost and working life of the device
  2. Simplicity in handling
  3. Time of measurement
  4. Accuracy and precision of measurements
  5. Application potential for fruits of interest to us
Solutions Not of Interest
Separate devices for each quality parameter
Proposal Deadline5/4/2019



TitleMethod for accelerated microbiological challenge studies
Summary DescriptionWe are seeking a novel method for accelerated microbiological challenge studies in foods
Description
General Mills has the following need: A novel method for accelerated microbiological challenge studies in foods.

General Mills is at the forefront of evaluating and introducing natural, consumer friendly ingredients across its range of products. Introduction of natural ingredients involves several stages of testing to ensure safety and highest quality throughout the shelf-life of products.

To this end, microbiological challenge studies are carried out through regular interval sampling and testing of products from several incubators maintained at set temperatures for estimated shelf-life period. The incubators have large footprint, and the extended storage duration's significantly limit the number of products that could be tested at any given time. Therefore, General Mills is seeking a novel method or/and test platform for accelerating the microbiological challenge studies.
 
Possible Approaches
Possible approaches may include but are not limited to novel low-footprint test platforms performing at par with current methods, and/or using sensors for real-time evaluation of stored samples.
Criteria
Any solution submitted will be evaluated against the following criteria-
  1. Time of measurement
  2. Footprint of the test platform
  3. Cost of the method
  4. Ability to handle non-GRAS ingredients
  5. Application potential for food systems of interest to us
Solutions Not of Interest
Not applicable
Proposal Deadline5/4/2019



TitleSeeking technologies to extend the use life of edible oils
Summary DescriptionWe are seeking technologies for extending the use life of frying oils
Description
General Mills, a 17+ billion dollar food company, has the following need: Technologies to extend the use life of frying oils.

We seek proposals that present novel ingredients or processes to enable extension of the use life of frying oils without compromising the fried product quality.

General Mills annually uses more than 25 million pounds of frying oil for manufacturing high quality fried food products. The use life of frying oils depends on many factors, including the food matrix and the process conditions.

We welcome solutions that would enable considerably extending the use life of frying oils without impacting the product quality. Solutions drawn from well-established approaches or technologies from restaurant businesses or other frying industries are also welcome. The proposed solution should be cost-effective and scalable.
Possible Approaches
Possible approaches may include but are not limited to
  1. Technologies to considerably decrease the free fatty acids and polar compounds formed during frying.
  2. Technologies to considerably sequestrate the free fatty acids and polar compounds from fried oils.
  3. Advanced continuous filtration techniques.
Criteria
Any solution submitted will be evaluated against the following criteria
  1. Cost and scalability.
  2. Use life extension of the oil.
Solutions Not of Interest
Solutions requiring establishment of an isolated large-scale facility.
Proposal Deadline5/4/2019



TitleEgg Substitution for Cake Mixes
Summary DescriptionGeneral Mills is seeking pantry friendly ingredients to enable formulation of ‘egg reduced’ or ‘egg free’ cakes mixes.
Description
Egg ingredients, such as whole egg powder is used in cake mix formulations to develop the unique structure of cakes through its gelling and heat coagulation properties. The strong network of egg proteins formed during the baking process is important for texture building, particularly in angel food cake, but also in other cake mixes. In addition, egg ingredients partially contribute towards emulsification, leavening and stabilization of the foam structure in cakes.

Egg and egg based ingredients are often prone to microbiological contamination, supply chain issues and price fluctuations. Additionally, changing consumer needs and emerging interests in vegan options are also driving factors. Consequently, we are seeking novel alternatives to egg based ingredients for our cake mixes.
Possible Approaches
The solution should be directed at substitution or elimination of dried egg white, dried egg yolks, or dried whole eggs. The ingredients can be pure substances or a blend of several ingredients. The ingredients can be produced by any means: extraction, purification, fermentation or other known processes. We would prefer commercially available ingredients but would consider ingredients in their early stage of development.
Criteria
Any solution proposed will be evaluated based on the criteria listed below:
  • Ingredient functionality, including emulsification, structure development and stabilization, and texture delivery.
  • The name or proposed name of the ingredient on the product label and its familiarity to the consumers.
  • Vegan or non-vegan solutions
  • Cost neutral or reduction relative to current market prices
  • The ingredient must have GRAS status or be a new ingredient with a line of sight to GRAS approval.
Solutions Not of Interest
  • Ingredients that could be perceived as refined chemicals
  • Non-food solutions (e.g. blood plasma)
Proposal Deadline5/4/2019