MANCHESTER - 2nd November 2016: On 25th October, Manchester became a global hub for fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) as more than 60 invited delegates from around the world came together for an inspiring morning of presentations, a celebration of innovation and unique networking opportunities at the inaugural Gama Innovation Conference & Awards.
A broad range of countries were represented, with attendees arriving from as far afield as Austria, Turkey, India and Thailand. The first-of its kind event – described by delegates as “inspiring” and “engaging” – brought together the great and the good of the FMCG world including manufacturers, entrepreneurs, industry bodies and innovation experts.
The Lord Mayor of the City of Manchester, J.K. Sharma, Consul General of India and Carlos de Sousa Amaro, Consul General of Portugal were among the presenters at the Gama Innovation Awards.
Cesar Pereira, Gama founder and CEO, commented: “We were delighted with the success of the first ever Gama Innovation Conference & Awards, a unique gathering of the global FMCG community in Manchester. The vibrant atmosphere enabled our delegates to share innovative ideas, get fresh inspiration, and build exciting new connections. I hope that the inaugural edition of the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards will help to consolidate Manchester’s position as hub for consumer goods innovation”.
Diverse and dynamic speakers
Kicking off the event, an exciting line-up of expert speakers took to the stage to share their passion and experience on a diverse range of topics.
Delivering the first speech of the morning, Tony Lloyd, mayor of Greater Manchester, spoke about the many ways Manchester has been at the forefront of innovation and its constant need for reinvention.
Following Tony, Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, talked about the potential of the Northern Powerhouse, emphasising the importance of focusing on key assets and the need to connect people and cities to drive innovation. An agglomeration of the leading city regions in the north of England could create one of the top 20 economies in the world in terms of size and scale, he noted.
From the world of fast moving consumer goods, Ian Wright CBE, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, spoke about the vibrancy of UK food and drinks manufacturing, citing labour flexibility, the importance of trade associations, access to tax credits and the willingness to embrace failure as key factors in driving innovation within the industry. Innovation was both “thriving and crucial” in UK food and drink manufacturing, he added.
Lisa Tse MBE, chief executive of Sweet Mandarin, revealed the keys to success in building a retail food brand and driving growth through exports, emphasising the importance of a full understanding of the market and a focus on key strengths. “After researching the market we thought we had a good chance to compete by sticking with something we are really good at, and creat[ing] something we know about from the inside out for many, many years”, she observed.
Meanwhile, Melissa Snover, managing director of Katjes Fassin UK, shared her journey in 3D confectionery printing, revealing the potential of the technology in the consumer goods space. “Whoever makes the technology easy to use […] – just like any user interface that takes any challenging technology and makes it simple enough for grandma and little kids to use – they’re going to own the future of their industry in their sector, and this is what we hope to do with Magic Candy Factory”.
Elsewhere Tom Warden, editorial director at Gama, looked at key FMCG innovation trends in 2016 and beyond, focusing on the evolution of the “caveman consumer”.
Finally, Alberto Lopez-Valenzuela, chief executive of Alva, explored the importance of reputation and its impact on business performance. “The world has changed a great deal and successes in business come no longer from just being shareholder focused, but actually stakeholder focused”, he added.
A new dimension for confectionery
One of the highlights of the event saw Melissa Snover and her team from Katjes Fassin UK delight and entertain delegates with a live demonstration of the world’s first 3D confectionery printer. The firm’s unique device creates personalized products in a matter of moments through a unique combination of digital and 3D printing technology.
A showcase of global innovation
Elsewhere, other attractions for delegates included a display of dozens of innovative products selected as finalists in the Gama Innovation Awards 2016. The Finalists Showcase allowed attendees to get up close and personal with a diverse array of unique concepts representing the very best in global FMCG innovation over the past year.
“I would like to congratulate you for hosting such a successful event”, said John Evans, international director, Santander. “The presentations were great and the products really inspiring”.
John Winnard MBE, managing director, William Santus added: “It was most pleasing to hear from all the speakers of their stories and to see how innovative some people could be!”.
The exclusive line-up of selected delegates from around the world provided a unique opportunity for networking and forging new contacts. Tricia McNeilly, founder of Cocomojo and Root66, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the Gama event, it was brilliant and so many good people at it. I think the exclusivity of the event made it much easier to bond”.
Save the date
The Gama Innovation Conference & Awards will return to Manchester on 25th October 2017.
Gama is a global provider of business information and services specializing in product innovation. Through our worldwide network of over 100 in-country experts, we offer high-quality news, research, analysis and partnering services, delivering compelling insights and supporting you to unlock new business opportunities.