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A partnership approach to innovation

Global Innovation Director, Mattia De Dominicis, explains how an open ecosystem-based business model is accelerating our next generation product development.

The traditional approach of large companies has been to do as many things as possible themselves. In the world of innovation, that created cultures which were secretive and mistrustful.

As the challenger in our sector, we know we can’t do it alone. For us, creating a healthier future is a team effort.

We are building deep and open partnerships with third-party businesses and our intention is that, over time, this web of relationships will evolve into a genuine ecosystem, one well equipped to pursue a harm reduction agenda.

Our partners are embedded at every stage of the innovation cycle. Most importantly, they sit with us at our new Sense Hubs in Liverpool and Hamburg, hearing consumers express their needs and preferences.

Watch this three-minute video to learn how our Sense Hub in Liverpool is at the leading edge of our transformation.

We work fast together to create pretotype products – sometimes in a matter of a few hours – and then we get these design ideas back into the hands of those consumers. This collaborative, test-and-learn way of working continues as we move from pretotype to functioning prototype, and then prototype to full production. It is all light years away from the traditional, very formal client-supplier relationship.

I won’t pretend there aren’t challenges with this kind of partnership approach. You have to have an open mindset which doesn’t always come naturally in the self-contained environment of product development. You have to think long term – the trust needed to make these relationships work well takes time to build.

But we think the rewards justify the effort. We have already seen product cycles come down from more than a year to a handful of months, and we now offer much greater choice to consumers. And I think it makes Imperial a more exciting, diverse place to work and collaborate with. Don’t just take my word for it. Take a look below at what some of our partners are saying about working with us.

If you have an idea, a skill or a capability, which you think might advance our collective quest for a healthier future, do get in touch with me at [email protected].

When we innovate at pace, sometimes we face challenges, but we collaborate to find solutions together and deliver the best proposition for consumers.

Jing Li, Project Director, China First Union

Sustainability is top of our minds in our work with Imperial. We collaborate closely and have driven innovative packaging improvements that are better for the environment and the consumer.

Jenny Tang, International Sales Director, Stora Enso

Together, we need to develop and bring to market quality products in a sequence – ready to offer something more to the consumer every time.

Paolo Cremonini, CEO, G.D, a Coesia company

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