The Barilla Group, Parma, Italy, has launched a venture capital fund and innovation hub called Blu1877. The name of the initiative reflects the color of Barilla's product packaging as well as the year the family-owned pasta company began business as a small bakery in Parma.
Blu1877 will provide investments and nurture innovations at a state-of-the-art pilot plant owned by Barilla, which has a 40-percent share in the Italian pasta market. Companies that work with the group will be able to test concepts in small-batch production runs. They will also be able to access the company's extensive food industry expertise through a virtual network.
Areas of interest include bakery products, pastas, condiments, sustainable diets, fruit-based products, the Mediterranean diet and meal solutions. Those interested will have access to an advanced infrastructure for food research and development with mentorship from senior managers and expert food scientists, according to Blu1877's website.
The first step for Blu1877 is making seed investments in innovators in products and meal solutions connected with Barilla's core business and related ones — pasta, sauces and Italian-style condiments — according to Blu1877 president and CEO Victoria Spadaro Grant, who is also Barilla's chief technology officer.