- Ferrero International S.A., an Italian chocolate giant, is establishing an innovation center at Cornell University’s technology campus in New York City, according to The Wall Street Journal. The new 230,000-square-foot building, of which Ferrero will occupy 4,200 square feet, will open this month.
- The building is intended to develop relationships between Cornell Tech students and faculty and established businesses, startups, government agencies and nonprofits. Cornell Tech will use roughly 39% of the space, leaving plenty for other interested companies.
- Ferrero will have access to new technologies developed by Cornell Tech and the chance to recruit graduates. Students, in turn, will get hands on experience working in a real-life setting in their chosen field.
The Italian chocolate manufacturer sees an opportunity at Cornell University’s technology campus and is jumping on it. The university is looking for a wide range of companies to bring on campus, and Ferrero fits neatly into that broad category.
Ferrero is using this new partnership to explore ways they can innovate their products, operations, farming methods and sustainable food production. The chocolate maker is also planning to expand its footprint on campus by hiring Cornell Tech graduates.
This isn’t the first time Ferrero has invested in tech. In 2015, the company teamed up with renewable packaging company Stora Enso, and PTS, a German research institute. They wanted to find a way to transform leftover hazelnut shells from Ferrero's Nutella line into packaging for its chocolates. The hazelnut-shell carton board they created is reportedly difficult to differentiate from the regular cardboard.
Ferrero isn’t limiting R&D dollars to university campuses. In June, the company announced the official opening of a Ferrero Innovation Center in Singapore. It is their first outpost in Asia, and it employs experts fields including food science, biotechnology and consumer insights. They’re researching new raw materials, consumer insight, health and nutrition, product research and development, and planning for the future.
It’s not unusual for universities to welcome corporate partners when it comes to research. The Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research at Purdue University has a number of food companies as members, including General Mills, Mondelez International and Nestle. In May, the center published research highlighting why food ingredient blends are more sensitive to changes in climate than single ingredients. As makers of countless CPGs, this was likely helpful and cost-saving research for Purdue’s many partners.
When a food company partners with an on-campus university center, it also strengthens its chances of hiring rising stars in the field. An on-campus research job is appealing to students, but it also helps CPG companies showcase their scientific jobs, which many in the field have said are one of the areas where attracting new talent is most important.