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Sep 12, 2019

Six Lankan FMCG giants, CIT Labs to drive new biz wins through circular innovations

Team Lion Brewery, from left: Manager New Product Development Ruchira Money, Assistant Manager Supply Chain (Brewing) Sharina Bandaranayake and Financial Controller Corporate Jehan Goonaratne

  • CBL, Hemas, Cargills, Lion, Zesta and Atlas Axillia work with Colombo Innovation Tower Labs with support from AOD's Dutch-Sri Lanka Innovation Collaboration

CBL, Hemas, Cargills, Lion, Zesta and Atlas were among the leading FMCG companies that joined in for a one-week intense circular economy innovation workshop series led by Dutch experts from CIRCO made possible by AOD's Dutch-Sri Lanka Innovation Collaboration.

The highly focused and intense workshop was held at the newly-launched Colombo Innovation Tower dedicated to drive and be a one-of-a-kind innovation hub for South Asia marrying design and tech. The workshop was held by the Dutch experts who specialise in making the business case and driving circular innovation (sustainable business) across a number of industries by combining design thinking and circular methodologies to discover new opportunities, while bringing additional revenue generation for businesses, along with higher value retention.

The participating companies will take back new innovations with P&L Impact that can be converted to quick wins as well as long term ideas they can work on. 

Chandrika Abeygunawardene who took part in the workshop representing her company Cargills, called the whole experience “inspiring!” She added that the workshop methods helped in unlocking individual participant’s own thinking, and capacity to create and innovate; “the methodology was very unusual and unlike in the typical workshop, this one encouraged us to study the issues and come up with solutions ourselves, with the help of CIT and Circo experts.” 

Echoing similar thoughts, Sobisan Senthilnathan of Atlas Axillia called the workshop ‘amazing’ and really useful in getting a full view of the problem, and the solutions for it.  

Malik Farooke who represented Daraz— the only e-commerce company in the mix—said that the workshop was extremely well thought out and structured to build creativity and autonomy in participants. 

“It was extremely useful in understanding where sustainability and business connect, and to find solutions that we can apply here in Sri Lanka,” said Farman Nizar, the General Manager of Marketing at Sunshine Holdings for Watawala and Zesta. 

Ruchira Money of Lion Distilleries mentioned that the workshop is ideal for strategic, sustainability and production teams who want to think outside the box and incorporate new thinking to approach their problems: “It really gets you thinking, planning and strategising; it’s not just that, this workshop also pushes you to go beyond thinking, to find solutions to actually implement your ideas and even pitch it to your higher management in order to move things forward.”

One of the most interesting developments at this workshop was early stage talks between the different major business groups to form a public-private partnership (PPP) between the Sri Lankan Government and a collective body representing the manufacturing industries to drive circular innovation. The companies considered forming a united front after noticing that almost all companies hit similar roadblocks when it comes to recycling or reusing plastics through material innovation.

The Dutch circular economy experts were facilitated by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Sri Lanka, with keen interest from the Deputy Ambassador Eva Van Woersem. Speaking at the closing ceremony she mentioned that it is important for the Netherlands to share the best of Dutch circular methodologies with Sri Lanka, opening up a new collaborative dimension into the two nations’ relations. 

Colombo Innovation Tower (CIT) founder Linda Speldewinde said that ‘there’s a myth about sustainability not making business sense; that it doesn’t help a business make profit. Part of our work here was in helping some of the biggest businesses see how these solutions actually help them make better business and higher profits. It was very interesting to see how businesses responded to this. There are more workshops and sessions like this to come, and it will open up our innovation methodologies to many,” she said, inviting businesses, brands, entrepreneurs and corporate teams to join in. To find out more or become part of the Colombo Innovation Tower ecosystem, reach or 076 100 7610.

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