AB InBev, the world’s largest beer company, started one of its four global innovation hubs, Innovation Brewery, in India in 2019 with a vision of solving business problems using emerging innovative technologies.
Over the past two years, Innovation Brewery has been through an exciting journey, having successfully driven 18 projects and helped create a multi-million-dollar business impact. They drove innovative business transformation initiatives for their Global Operations, Analytics, South Asia and Europe business units. Based out of Bengaluru, their way of working includes partnership with best-in-class startups through co-innovation and plug-and-play models.
“We found an opportunity to leverage the emerging startup ecosystem within Asia and funnel novel ideas into the organisation. We set out to build a framework to connect with the external ecosystem and create this culture of innovation within the firm,” says Pritam Dutta, Global Director, Z-Tech and Innovation.
Innovation Brewery also spearheaded the formation of the Innovation Consortium, in partnership with Kimberly Clark, Lowe’s Innovation Lab, Société Générale Catalyst and TiE Bangalore. The vision is to foster innovation and give opportunities to startups to solve business problems across industry verticals and accelerate their product maturity and global expansion plans. This consortium undertook some key initiatives to support startups during turbulent times on account of COVID-19.
Innovation Brewery also hosts regular Beer Talk sessions with TiE Bangalore — a platform for AB InBev’s leadership to connect with the startup ecosystem and build a strong community of innovators and domain experts.
Today, AB InBev has built strong ecosystem connections in the APAC and Africa region with 500+ startup connects, 20+ ecosystem partners and organised 20+ external and internal events.
A platform to accelerate disruptive solutions
AB InBev, with its operations in over 100 countries across the globe, can present strong market access to any aspiring startup with an interesting product/service. To support their dream of building a strong organisation for the next 100 years, they launched their flagship startup programme in India – BudStart Accelerator in 2019. It is a unique programme to connect with the startup ecosystem and accelerate AB InBev’s growth. Till date, the programme has received more than 400 startup applications and enabled them to identify disruptive solutions in the marketplace.
Last year, the programme worked with 10+ startups to roll out new solutions to meet customer requirements in the COVID-19 environment. In the finance domain, they partnered with India-based Discover Dollar, which helps enterprises identify overpayments and revenue leakages by analysing multiple data sources including ERP, emails, and contracts. The BudStart Accelerator program provided the startup an opportunity to understand AB InBev business through a short pilot and scale their scope to cover their operations in South Asia, Europe and Africa. Apart from this, Innovation Brewery has also worked with the nine other startups to solve multiple business problems cutting across business functions, leveraging emerging technologies like IoT, Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing and Analytics, among others.
The way forward for 2021
Early this year, “Innovation Brewery” was rechristened as Beer Garage APAC & Africa Hub and is now an integral part of AB InBev Global Innovation Hubs’ (Beer Garage) network to create global impact through disruptive innovations, great partnerships and focus on fintech innovations and business transformation in the APAC and Africa region.
“Our focus for this year will be to drive the fintech innovations centre of excellence, scale our successful BudStart programme, and drive transformation within emerging markets like China, Africa, and SEA. We are looking out for startups, entrepreneurs and people with innovative solutions who can drive exponential value to our customers,” says Luiz Gondim, CTO, Z-Tech.
AB InBev strongly believes that technology is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the future customer and Beer Garage APAC & Africa Hub collaborates with ecosystem partners to fast-track their efforts to find relevant solutions critical to AB InBev’s business transformation. Their partnerships include eminent venture capital firms, incubation centres, academia, accelerators, corporates, and startup enablers. As an extended team of Beer Garage APAC & Africa Hub, these partners enable connections with the relevant startup community.
Calling startups to join the launch day of BudStart 2021
AB InBev Beer Garage APAC & Africa Hub (formerly Innovation Brewery) is simultaneously launching three editions (Global Fintech, APAC and Africa) of the BudStart Global Accelerator 2021 programme for startups with innovative solutions from across the globe.
Startups will get paid proof of concept (POC), support to improve product/solution maturity, global expansion opportunity, mentoring (functional, technical, legal), strategic investment opportunity, corporate and partnership connections and more.