Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials / A conversation with Shruti George

A conversation with Shruti George

A conversation with Shruti George, senior director, Strategic Innovation Platform

Following the launch of AD Stretch, we spoke to Shruti George, senior director Strategic Innovation Platform, about the intentions and ambitions for the global accelerator program.

When it comes to an accelerator program, the focus is on external investment. Why take this route over investment in internal resources?

For Avery Dennison it’s not an either/or proposition: we’re doing both. We have a very strong group of R&D and commercial teams, and we are heavily investing in boosting our internal capabilities and nurturing our innovation culture - and bringing in new ideas is part of that. We can’t always solve every problem internally, so we are looking for the smart minds and new perspectives that exist beyond our four walls to help us find solutions that might be outside our core competency. 

In the short term— so in the next two years—what are your ambitions for AD Stretch? 

Firstly it’s a vehicle to find great start-ups that we can partner with, invest in, and grow with. That’s a big part of the program. In service to that we provide financial backing without diluting their ownership. Our second ambition is, as I mentioned, internally focused - bringing in collaborative learning between us and startups looking to change the world.

Essentially, we want to jointly innovate on solutions together. And in doing so, take what’s good about the start-up mentality and embed it in our own approach. And vice versa; we want to bring financial discipline and prudence into these entrepreneurial businesses. There has to be a healthy degree of give and take in the relationship. Lastly, I would love for Avery Dennison, in the next two years, to become one of the best start-up partners that a young company can have; that they seek us out. 

And in the long term, how do you see AD Stretch evolving over the course of the next decade?

My goal is for AD Stretch to become a platform that appeals beyond start-ups. I want to expand our ecosystem to include other companies, universities and research facilities. We want to see AD Stretch manifest as an open innovation and collaboration network that benefits the whole labels and packaging industry. 

I would also like to consider how we nurture innovation from the ground up, so not just in the acceleration space but also in terms of incubation. In three to five years I’d ideally like to have a collective of incubators that work with innovators around the world.

What is the ideal applicant in this initial cohort? Who are you hoping will apply?

The types of companies we want to look at are companies that sit at the intersection of the physical and the digital. We also want applicants who are actively engaged in solving the pressing needs of both today and tomorrow: climate change, enabling more transparency and making sure it’s done in a cost-efficient manner. The latter is often the tipping point for most technology. Progress needs to be financially realistic. 

We are also targeting applicants from regions that are currently overlooked; for example, Africa, LatAm and developing Asia, so that we have a more global view as opposed to just a western take on solving regional or even local problems.

What advice would you give to start-up applicants, both in terms of the gateway to entry and ensuring they get the most out of the experience?

Avery Dennison is, at heart, a materials science innovator at the forefront of digital innovation in the packaging industry, that just so happens to also be really great at driving operational efficiencies and scale-up. To enter the program, the start-up will need to show how they either already help us solve our challenges, or co-develop a solution for the region. Our innovation teams—both technical and commercial—are a source of great insight and inspiration and I would absolutely recommend our start-up cohort tap into their experience to refine and iterate on the solutions.

To apply for AD Stretch, visit the website: ADStretch.com

Shruti George, senior director, Strategic Innovation Platform

Shruti George
Senior Director, Strategic Innovation Platform

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