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Tesco pairs its suppliers with startups to accelerate sustainable innovation

British supermarket Tesco has launched Innovation Connections, an accelerator program that pairs startups with selected suppliers to fast-track innovation in food supply chains.

Together with WWF, Tesco selected eight startups from 70 applications to pitch their concepts earlier this month. Winners will work with long-term Tesco suppliers to pilot and scale their innovations and will each receive GBP 150,000 in funding.

Examples include InsPro's portable bioconversion units that use insects to convert food waste into chicken feed (paired with prepared fruit processor Prepworld) and AgriSound's bioacoustics technology that monitors pollinators and pest levels (connected to fruit supplier AM Fresh).

Innovation Connections is part of an ongoing partnership between Tesco and WWF aiming halve the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket.

Trend Bite

Connecting suppliers and startups is a smart move that should benefit everyone involved, including consumers relying on a food system that's both sustainable and secure. And the need for action is urgent. As Ken Murphy, Tesco Group CEO, points out: "Climate change will impact our ability to grow food, but today’s food system is also one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and the biggest driver of biodiversity loss globally."

People will increasingly demand that the brands they buy from — large companies in particular — do everything they can to address the climate crisis. To rewire existing practices, innovation and collaboration are key. Time to consider whether your brand could leverage its supply chain relationships to support purpose-driven startups?