MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. has opened its General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network (G-WIN) innovation portal for scientists, researchers, engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs who feel they may be able to help solve nearly 50 technical challenges set forth by the Minneapolis-based company. The portal is available at GeneralMills.com/Win, and visitors who register at the site will receive ongoing updates about specific technical challenges that meet their abilities and expertise.

"We are absolutely committed to changing the way we invent through connected innovation," said Peter Erickson, senior vice-president of innovation, technology and quality at General Mills. "Connected innovation is very much a part of our culture. The new innovation portal … provides us with a wonderful tool to make the process more efficient."

General Mills identified open innovation as a key strategic priority and in 2005 formed a team charged with creating programs and processes to identify and engage external partners. By the spring of 2007, the company formalized its open innovation efforts and officially launched G-WIN. The original G-WIN web site, also launched in 2007, shared information about the program and invited outside partners to submit their patent or patent-pending ideas for consideration.

The latest update to the G-WIN web site will enable General Mills to enhance and accelerate significant innovation efforts already taking place inside the company by matching outside technical expertise and resources with a broader array of businesses and brands, the company said. After visitors submit their ideas through the portal, the company will evaluate proposals and respond to all submissions within three weeks.

Since the launch of G-WIN, more than 40 new General Mills products have incorporated a significant portion of external innovation, including Fiber One Bars, Pillsbury Savorings, Progresso Light soups, Yoplait Smoothie and Wanchai Ferry frozen dinner kits. Innovation opportunities currently listed on the web site include the search for novel dairy or dairy ingredients for human health, reduced bitterness in whole grains, blue color that is sourced naturally, and humectants that are label friendly.