“When the context creates limits, it is the right time to innovate”: with these words, Michela Petronio, Vice President of Blu1877, corporate venture capital of Barilla Group, described to the Community BBS how the symbol of Made in Italy food is facing the technology. His is a story that covers almost 150 years: from the new packaging of the first post-war period to family-sized advertisements, from the choice of quality wheat, to the birth of Mulino Bianco to face the block in the price of pasta in the 1970s.
“Innovation is driven by the changing context – says Petronio – because individuals are refractory to change, it is written in the DNA of the human race that we must preserve before evolving. If we ask a consumer what he would like to change about a product he trusts we will answer: nothing ”.
But the market has become complex over the last 20 years: the need of the consumer have been changed, as also the food industry on a global level. “We have chosen to re-read all our activities through the ‘Good for you, good for the planet’ filter – Petronio says – and we are focusing on new styles and on the recovery of the food waist, which is an important voice for our industry “.
How? Coming out of the confines of the old-fashioned laboratory that have created some of the brand’s most innovative products, but which can no longer keep with new stimuli and with the market expansion.
“This is why we created Blu1877 – Petronio continues – a fund that identifies, invests and collaborates with food startups active all over the world. We need external energies to develop innovative projects that would have little space for growth in a structured company like ours, but through the creation of a specific tool can put themselves to the test on the market having behind them some guarantees and the expertise that comes with from a solid reality ”.
A research that also puts in place a different method to face the challenges of the present: “We have always thought of problems with a business approach, that is, the solution is born from the problem. For design thinking, instead, we must start from the context, and reformulate the problem with that key to reading. It is a positive approach that we have practiced and learned over the years, and it has led us to put people at the center, using prototypes and involving our consumers, retailers and customers in an innovation process”.
Today, innovating means continually tapping into external energies and at the same time rethinking oneself. “If a prosperous company replicates exactly its business model cannot resist, but to project itself into the future it must continually graft people who make challenges day by day, that activate conversations about the future”.