Innovation | Mars, Incorporated
Innovation at Mars

ACCELERATING INNOVATION TO MAKE AN IMPACT

InnovateWithMars

A LETTER FROM RALPH JEROME

It is no exaggeration to say that we face multiple, interlinked and complex challenges related to the future of food, the future of agriculture and the wellbeing of the future global population.

Mars has a responsibility to help tackle these global issues, and I believe that innovation will provide the solutions to many of these challenges. But, we can’t just look at short-term, incremental improvements. We need to reconsider current approaches and innovate at scale to have a meaningful and lasting impact.

In 2013, we set up a flexible and responsive Corporate Innovation function to accelerate our innovation and make this happen. Using a Grand Challenge approach we defined our “moonshots”: ambitious, long-term and ground-breaking innovation projects. Multidisciplinary teams at Mars and our partners are now working on a core set of innovation projects to secure raw material supply chains, sustainably improve agricultural productivity, adapt to climate change and address malnutrition in developing countries.

Cross-sector and multidisciplinary collaboration is at the heart of this approach. We need to pursue collaborations that are uncommon in diversity, uncommon in depth and uncommon in effectiveness. By working collaboratively, I believe we can create innovative and sustainable solutions to some of the critical issues that we face at the nexus of food, agriculture and health.

— Ralph Jerome, Vice President of Corporate Innovation at Mars, Incorporated

WHAT IS INNOVATION?

GRAND CHALLENGE APPROACH

The environment that Mars, Incorporated operates in is shifting rapidly. The global population is projected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050, water and energy use are increasing and the climate is changing. How do we respond to these external challenges?

Inspired by the ambition to land a person on the moon within a decade, the word “moonshot” applies to high-reaching innovation projects realized in the long term. Mars’ Grand Challenge approach is about defining moonshots in food, agriculture and health — from securing a sustainable supply of raw materials to boosting agricultural sustainability.

Grand Challenges allow us to think big, targeting breakthroughs and solving issues at scale. That way, we can have a greater positive impact on people, pets and the planet.

MARS CATALYST

Mars Catalyst is our own internal “think tank.” For the last five decades, Catalyst’s goal has been to challenge traditional business thinking within Mars, Incorporated — and it continues to deliver solutions to our most complex business challenges.

Catalyst works to transform theory into actionable strategies and capabilities and to create lasting value for the business. A highly diverse group of people contributes to Catalyst’s capabilities. It is a growing network of multidisciplinary academic thought leaders; Mars Associates from the USA, Europe and Asia with widely varying backgrounds; and other key scientific partners. 

Inside the Catalyst Labs, concepts and theories are turned into big-impact strategies that are not only long-term, but also fit seamlessly into the Mars, Incorporated culture. Recently, Catalyst created a cutting-edge data methodology that has doubled the impact of our advertising. It also developed highly sought-after, science-based marketing and sales strategies, foundational corporate culture analysis for M&A “smoothing,” and the Economics of Mutuality initiative. This groundbreaking initiative is an unconventional, holistic business-model approach to sustainability and value, which has the potential to reshape the way we currently do business globally. 


"We need to innovate at scale to have a meaningful and lasting impact"