New solutions around food: Fazer, IBM and VTT to set up an innovation ecosystem and research restaurant

News, Press release

Fazer, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the information technology company IBM are embarking on a cooperation aiming for an open innovation ecosystem which produces solutions related to food. The ecosystem enables the creation of new business models through new partnerships. It is centred around Fazer Food Services' research and pilot project restaurant to be opened in October in IBM's Munkkiniemi premises in Helsinki. The ecosystem invites various operators, such as start-ups, to network, study and develop solutions involving future food and food production in a genuine consumption environment.

The ecosystem will facilitate the creation of a competency network and produce future solutions in the food industry. The shared research strategy of VTT, Fazer and IBM will provide guidelines for new openings.

The carrying themes of the research and development work include supporting people's vitality, promoting responsible and sustainable food production, as well as producing good user experiences and enhancing the restaurant business.


Solutions from food


"Fazer's mission is food with a purpose. The purpose is composed of the well-being generated by healthy food, the good spirits brought on by pleasant food experiences, and the fact that in all our activities we know our raw materials and responsible production, from field to table and also in terms of food loss. We want to renew all of our food services continuously and understand consumers' varying needs and changes in eating habits, so that we can remain at the spearhead of development," says Marianne Nordblom, Director of Gastronomy and Food Development at Fazer Food Services Finland.


The ecosystem and research restaurant gives Fazer the opportunity to meet start-up companies representing various fields and to study solutions developed within the framework of Fazer Brainhow – a programme focused on holistic well-being – in a genuine environment.


New technology


"VTT researches and develops technology that enables the creation of new services and business models which benefit people and society. Our central themes include the sufficiency of resources and a good life. Among other things, these involve the development of new kinds of agile food production technologies, as well as technologies and solutions that enable individual food choices and experiences. These are the objectives we're furthering in the ecosystem," says Kyösti Pennanen, a Senior Scientist at VTT.


"A research restaurant situated in a genuine consumption and operating environment enables the utilisation of VTT's multidisciplinary technology expertise. Studies focused on new food ingredients, robotics, augmented reality and data management are some examples of ongoing projects at VTT," says Pennanen.


Smart food services


"Technology has its own role to play in the development of future food services and solutions. Other important themes in this collaboration include the circular economy and sustainable development and their enablement through technology. IBM's goals in respect of the innovation ecosystem include finding new concepts with the help of intelligent solutions that can be implemented by means of artificial intelligence, analytics, IoT solutions and blockchain technologies. As part of the ecosystem collaboration, Fazer will be taking into use the IBM Watson IoT platform, which allows the partners to study and develop new service concepts. We also want to be involved in influencing the well-being and satisfaction of our personnel through this cooperation," says Tomi Lehikoinen, Client Executive of the Retail Industry at IBM Finland.


All three partners are enthusiastic about the new cooperation. The new restaurant space is currently under renovation. The opening will be celebrated in October, when we will provide further information on other participating operators and start-up companies.



Fazer Group 

Fazer is an international family-owned company producing quality bakery, confectionery, biscuit and grain products, plant-based meals, milk-free products, take-away foods and drinks, as well as catering and café services. Fazer's mission is food with a purpose. Fazer operates in eight countries and exports to around forty countries. Fazer's success, ever since its establishment in 1891, has been based on the best product and service quality, beloved brands, the passion of its skilful staff, and the group's responsible ways of working. In 2017, Fazer Group had net sales of EUR 1.6 billion and nearly 15,000 employees. Fazer's operations uphold ethical principles that are based on the group's values and the United Nations Global Compact.  

Makes the world taste good 

IBM is a technology company specialized in cloud platforms and information processing that utilizes artificial intelligence. The company supports the digital transformation of its customers and entire industries. Innovations and industry capabilities are at the core of our strategy IBM has operations in more than 170 countries.

Our vision beyond 2030

Demand for food is growing at the same rate as the world population. Food production needs to be both sufficiently efficient and less harmful for the environment than before. The challenge is massive, but big steps have already been taken in the right direction.