New ideas can come from anywhere. Anyplace. Anytime. From any person and any team. And it’s helped Colgate-Palmolive to grow, innovate and succeed for over 200 years.
Raj Kohli, Vice President of Global R&D & Technology Strategy for Colgate-Palmolive, put it well when he said, “Open innovation and collaboration with the global startup ecosystem is incredibly valuable to our innovation efforts as we fulfill Colgate’s purpose to reimagine a healthier future for all people, their pets and our planet.”
As a global corporation, it’s essential that Colgate not just listens to but actively seeks out new ideas and perspectives. And it’s why Colgate has prioritized open collaboration on a global scale. Who knows the products that can meet tomorrow’s needs better than those with a personal stake in the game?
Here are a few examples of how Colgate seeks new ideas and opportunities to innovate:
Plug and Play
“Innovation projects are not just driving sales or profitability. They’re driving investment into Colgate-Palmolive’s future,” Gary Binstock, Director of Technology for Tech Scouting at Colgate, said.
Binstock and Laurence Du-Thumm, Director of External Technology Innovation at Colgate-Palmolive, work with Plug and Play, an ecosystem of startups, corporations, venture capitalists, universities, and government agencies to find new ideas and product concepts that can expand Colgate’s portfolio.
Binstock currently leads the partnership and was on the ground at Plug and Play headquarters when the partnership started in 2017. Within just 10 weeks of partnering, Binstock screened over 250 startups and opened over 30 deal flow sessions. Plug and Play has since collaborated with dozens of other companies and organizations, including the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
Though not all projects and partnerships result in a product Colgate-Palmolive makes today, that’s not to say they’re not fundamental in our pursuit of innovation. “Many innovation projects do not scale but the learnings are important — so it’s not a failure,” Binstock said.
At a time when companies around the world are trying to find solutions that will create a more sustainable future, there’s no one company that alone has the answer.
But there’s power in numbers. The 100+ Accelerator, a collective led by ABInBev and made up of Colgate-Palmolive, The Coca-Cola Company, and Unilever, seeks to fund and pilot sustainable innovation in supply chains.
“We understand that new technologies and innovations are developed quickly, and 100+ Accelerator can bring us all closer to that cutting edge,” the 100+ Accelerator states. “We can work together to scale game-changing solutions and accelerate action.”
The collective effort has enabled 70 startups in over 20 countries to bring their ideas to a large platform by providing mentoring, funding, and opportunities to pilot and scale their ideas. Cohorts that are accepted focus on one or more of six challenge statements that contribute toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the 100+ Accelerator Partner Companies’ Sustainability Goals including smart agriculture, water stewardship, circular economy, climate action, biodiversity, and inclusive growth (diversity, equity, and inclusion).
A few of the past cohorts have focused their efforts on capturing atmospheric CO2; making renewable energy from organic waste; turning sludge from wastewater treatment plants into biofertilizers, and much more.
Competition Fuels Innovation
The Colgate Connect Challenge, a global pitch competition for startups developing products to promote healthy futures, was held on January 6, 2022 — the first challenge of its kind for Colgate.
It sought to connect startups offering innovative solutions in three areas: quantified health and analytics; smart and connected packaging and digital consumer engagement; and products and platforms for underserved populations.
Of the large field of applicants, six finalists were selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges. From those finalists, three cash prizes were awarded.
Dermala, a startup using the human microbiome and analytics to create personalized products for skin health and treatment of chronic skin conditions, took home the grand prize of $20,000.
The SkinDNA Company, which is pioneering a wearable patch for collection and subsequent analysis of the skin microbiome and RNA of skin biomarkers, and Gennev, a provider of online coaching for women in underserved populations experiencing menopause, took home second and third place, respectively.
Additional finalists included Nutrix, a salivary multiparameter detection platform; FamilySelfCare, a DIY personalization system for skin and well-being; and Dentulu, a teledentistry hardware and software system.
Raj Kohli, one of the four judges on the panel, said, “We were extremely impressed with the field of competitors and congratulate all of the exceptional finalists who presented exciting innovative service and technology solutions to meet the future needs of our consumers.
Colgate Open Innovation Portal
Launched in 2018, the Colgate Open Innovation Portal gives the public access to Colgate’s collaborative process. Available in five different languages — English, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew, and Chinese (Mandarin) — the portal exponentially increases the number of imaginations working towards a healthier future for all people, their pets, and our planet.
Submissions from outside the U.S.
Number of languages the portal is translated into.
Submissions since launch in 2018.
“An Open Innovation Portal helps solicit and find new and emerging technology opportunities and solutions to problems and needs by providing a secure place for the company as well as for external entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, and technology owners who submit their technologies,” Du-Thumm said.
The teams behind the portal are particularly interested in potential partnerships that help Colgate expand the future of health, including developing sustainable packaging, sourcing natural active ingredients, and serving underserved consumers.