New partner for personalisation project

CPI, an independent technology innovation centre and founding member of the UK Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, has announced that it is a partner in a collaborative project working to benefit European fast-moving consumer goods.

CPI will help to develop and promote the adoption of an open innovation digital platform and small-scale manufacturing facilities. This will enable consumers to collaborate with manufacturers to design and create personalised FMCGs, driving industry growth through new products and consumer solutions.

In recent years, consumer preferences have shifted towards more personalised products, which represents a real challenge to an industry which has been built on manufacturing at very large scales. Despite growing pressures to embrace an agile, consumer-driven model for producing small-scale, personalised FMCGs, the industry’s response has been limited by a lack of relevant infrastructures and business models.

The DIY4U project has brought together a consortium of 13 partners to address these key barriers. The project is led by SINTEF, one of Europe’s largest research organisations, and will also receive input from Procter & Gamble, a global leader in the FMCG industry, as well as relevant European SMEs active in industrial digital technologies. Supporting industry innovation and research & technology organisations – including CPI and the Digital Catapult – will provide technical leadership.

The project aims to develop and implement two new interlocking technologies to enable the personalisation of FMCGs: small-scale Manufacturing Development Facilities called ‘Fablabs’ and an Open Innovation B2B/B2C digital platform. The digital platform is designed to enable consumers, manufacturers and innovation stakeholders in the supply chain to seamlessly collaborate and digitally design personalised powdered/liquid FMCGs. The Fablabs will then allow these designs to be rapidly manufactured and tested against specifications defined on the digital platform.

Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and supported by external industry stakeholders, the project launched in November 2019 and will initially target the detergents and soaps market, including end users, manufacturers, innovators and retailers. Once established, the project aims to broaden its scope to target the entire soft matter FMCG market.

CPI will draw from its state-of-the-art facilities and expertise in manufacturing technologies to lead the initial development of the Fablab and assist with the development of the digital platform. Working with the consortium, CPI will support the integration of the two technologies and the organisation of ‘open innovation competitions’ to promote their use by the industry. Once the technologies are developed, CPI will also take a lead in demonstrating their impact to its extended network and providing training to the FMCG supply chain on their implementation.

Duncan Akporiaye, Research Director at SINTEF, said: “We are delighted to be leading this ambitious and collaborative project. The agile platform we are developing will be a valuable asset, circumventing barriers between consumer and manufacturer to drive growth in the industry with new collaborative solutions.”

Dr Graeme Cruickshank, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at CPI, said: “With consumer needs rapidly changing in today’s FMCG landscape, it is more important than ever to improve collaboration at each stage of the industry’s supply chain. With this strong consortium of partners, the DIY4U project offers a new consumer-centric model of FMCG design and manufacture that will catalyse the positive disruption that the sector is seeking.”