Open Innovation Center

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Cacaolab and Sparkalis are partnering to establish an International Open Innovation Center on cocoa and chocolate processing

Sparkalis partners with Cacaolab, an R&D company focusing on innovation and training from bean to praline, in order to jointly create the center of gravity for cocoa-related research. With Sparkalis’ focus on sustainability and Cacaolab being at the forefront of cocoa and chocolate related research, we believe this collaboration will accelerate science and technology developments in the chocolate field, resulting in a more sustainable cocoa processing, as well as a redefined standard for chocolate taste. Cacaolab will host this International Open Innovation Center (the OIC) where all stakeholders can meet and co-create.

The OIC acts as an innovative ecosystem that facilitates the development of novel procedures and products for sustainable cocoa and chocolate processing, as well as inspires the next generation of talent. It is the center that combines external and internal resources and allows exploration of new technologies, innovations, co-creation, development of unexpected ideas and partnerships. The OIC is an open and partially virtual institute that continuously expands a broad network of relationships and creates synergies between people with different skills, knowledge and expertise. The center is a place where all stakeholders (from ingredient suppliers, equipment suppliers, chocolate producers, startups, SME’s and inventors to universities, research institutes and students) can spark unexpected ideas, technologies and creations in the field of cocoa and chocolate.

The OIC will extend its pilot-scale installations, training facilities and build on its analytical equipment, a sensory lab, etc. in order to enable physical testing, co-creation, as well as delivering services with technical support. In addition, data mining and artificial intelligence are being explored. The training offer is extended with MOOC’s (massive open online courses) and online conferences. Online challenges (e.g. idea generation/hackathon/crowd ideation & solutions) will be facilitated by a virtual platform.

Koen Dewettinck, Senior Full Professor at Ghent University, Founder and CEO at Ghent University’s spin-off Cacaolab said: “Cacaolab will continue to offer its R&D services on a bilateral and confidential basis to many clients all over the globe helping them to innovate their products and production processes. Because we are also strong believers in open innovation and co-creation, we are very happy to have found in Sparkalis a partner to make this Open Innovation Center happen”.   

Filip Arnaut, Managing Partner of Sparkalis and R&D Director at Puratos said: “Cacaolab is already at the forefront of cacao and chocolate related research. It has an international reputation on the quality of its research, as well as the educational projects that prepare young scientist to innovate. We want to help them grow and create critical mass on science and technology in the cocoa and chocolate fields”.












About Cacaolab

The Food Structure & Function Research Group of Ghent University, led by Professor Koen Dewettinck, has become internationally recognized in the area of chocolate science and technology. This resulted in the creation of a UGent science-based spin-off company Cacaolab in 2012. Cacaolab focusses on ‘Innovation and training from bean to praline’ by translating fundamental science into practical solutions and applications for its customers in the chocolate manufacturing and processing industry, B2B ingredient manufacturers as well as processing equipment manufacturers.

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About Sparkalis

Sparkalis is a corporate venture arm of the Puratos Group, the global leader in the B2B bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors. Sparkalis' mission is to work with start-up founders, innovative and business-driven entrepreneurs to transform exciting ideas into successful business reality. Sparkalis is committed to investing in innovative technologies to create, with future partners, a healthier and better ‘food print’ for today’s and tomorrow’s generations around the world.

All interested innovators can find all relevant information on Sparkalis’ website: