A look back at some of the best businesses to enter Compass Group UK & Ireland’s initiative to find new market leaders in food, drink, services and facilities management. Lisa Jenkins reports
Since launching in 2012, Idea Works! has offered small to medium-sized enterprises the opportunity to pitch new concepts to a panel of judges from Compass Group UK & Ireland, the largest catering company in the world. Through these events, the hopeful businesses aim to wow a panel of judges with their cutting-edge products, solutions and applications. The panel is led by Oliver Cock, Compass managing director – commercial, along with two other Compass experts who differ depending on the proposition, plus one guest.
The presenting businesses need to secure the all-important ‘yes’ votes from the judges that will see their ideas trailled within Compass. If the trial is successful, the innovation will be implemented within the business’s large and varied supply chain.
The Idea Works! events took place in three locations:
- 21 January 2015, the Wellcome Trust, London
- 6 May 2015, the NEC, Birmingham
- 9 July 2015, the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland.
So let’s find out what happened to some of the best new businesses from Idea Works! 2015, who secured the judges’ approval.
Ilana Taub and Michael Minch-Dixon, co-founders of Snact, showcased their fruit jerky. It is made from the tonnes of surplus fruit left over at markets and “food waste” that would have been thrown away due to being the wrong size or shape for retailers.
Snact’s ambition was clear to see, as the judges learned they were planning to launch their first commercial-sized Snact batch with new packaging. The two co-founders are also now working with farmers and fruit distributers directly to create co-operatives to reduce food poverty.
Since the Idea Works! event Snact has built up considerable excitement within Compass and its great potential has been recognised. The product has gone through the catering giant’s Vendor Assurance and is set to start trials in early January in a number of government and Restaurant Associates sites.
Cock said of the business: “The product tastes great, which is paramount. It has a clear market among health-conscious professionals as well as in the education sector. I love the vision of the company and the corporate social responsibility ethos behind the product as well. I think this product has plenty of mileage and could go far within Compass.”
Grabbgo represents a new way to deliver top-quality service. Paul Williamson, chief executive of the enterprise, brought in front of the judges his new grip, made from long-lasting silicone moulded rubber, which is used to carry hot plates to the table. The grip can withstand heat up to 200°C and is dishwasher friendly.
Williamson and Jerry Hewitt (pictured) demonstrated to the judges how the grip could replace service cloths, which can become dirty and unhygienic. In addition, the new grip commands a professional look that can be enhanced through unique branding and colouring.
The judges were impressed by the innovative element of the product and wanted to see it in trial. Since the Idea Works! event, the Grabbgo grip has been trialled at the Kia Oval, the ExCel and Twickenham Stadium, gaining excellent feedback from staff and customers.
Cock praised the products’ ability to increase hygiene: “Grabbgo has created a product that acts as an efficient and clean replacement for using a service cloth. The feedback shows the product has the potential to further improve efficiency and hygiene in many sectors.”
The judges were keeping their eyes peeled for an innovation that championed corporate social responsibility (CSR) and in green-energy company Bio-Bean they found one. Arthur Kay (pictures), co-founder and chief executive, outlined how his business has industrialised the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced bio-fuels – 1,000 tonnes of coffee would provide enough fuel to drive to Beijing and back, twice.
The bio-diesel and bio-mass pellets created can be used to provide clean energy for buildings and transport. However, as well as providing an environmentally friendly alternative to a waste and energy problem, Kay detailed how the innovation has the potential to save the organisation a considerable amount of money and resources.
“The concept has amazing potential,” commented Cock. “This innovation supports our wider CSR objectives as well as finds a useable solution for our coffee waste.”
Since the Idea Works! event, Bio-Bean has been successfully trialled at Eversheds law firm in London.
Founder and chief executive Andrew Martin and sales manager Alex Lewis presented Ohso Chocolate – their “happy and healthy” chocolate bars. The product is made from luxury Belgian chocolate and is full of friendly bacteria, meaning the chocolate is fantastic tasting while also helping to boost your immune system and keep your digestion system healthy.
The chocolate provides a healthy option for those still wishing to indulge in the popular snack. The Ohso chocolates are low-calorie and come in dairy, sugar and nut-free variants. In addition, the bacteria, which was tested by the University of Ghent, remains stable for up to 18 months. The bacteria also creates good gut flora and is beneficial to people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.
Cock commented: “The product has a great message behind it – you are still able to eat delicious chocolate, but with the knowledge that it has some health benefits as well. It could work well in many sectors of the business.”
The Idea Works! event has been a springboard for Ohso within the business as it has already been trialled at the Wellcome Trust as well as three Medirest hospitals. If these are a success, the chocolate bar will also be rolled out across the business in the retail areas.