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  • Hugo Walker

Sainsbury’s announces double programme to support SMEs and startups



The initiatives aim to innovate in waste-reducing technologies and diversify its shelves by supporting Black entrepreneurs


Sainsbury’s has introduced two new programmes to bolster innovative and underrepresented startups.


The first programme, Sainsbury’s Innovation Investments, involves a pledge of at least £5m funding for SMEs pioneering manufacturing methods that cut down on carbon emissions and water usage, in line with Sainsbury’s pledge to become a net zero retailer by 2035. Successful businesses will be scouted by Sainsbury’s partner, Williams Advanced Engineering, with funding to aid their R&D and testing processes.


Patrick Dunne, the Property and Procurement Director at Sainsbury’s, commented: "We are committed to reaching our Net Zero target of 2035 and are proud to be doing our part in leading the way to create solutions that will reduce carbon emissions and water usage not just in our stores, but across the entire sector.


We know that reducing emissions and water use is a critical part of tackling the climate crisis and to achieve this, we understand the importance of investing in pioneering technologies that can be adopted by all retailers."


The second programme, Thrive with Sainsbury’s, is a £1m incubator that supports startups and new brands with Black founders - helping to close the representation gap between brands on supermarket shelves.


The support package includes £20,000 of funding per successful applicant and one-to-one mentoring with industry experts to develop testing, skills, ideas and commerce.


Director of Grocery Innovation at Sainsbury’s, Silika Shellie-Manso, commented: "As an inclusive retailer, we believe that to offer great food and drink for everyone, it should be made by everyone. We know that despite the strength of ideas and potential amongst Black founders, opportunities and success can often be hindered by ethnicity, which is why we are starting with this group of the most underrepresented founders first."


These programmes both feed into Sainsbury’s overarching Win in Food strategy. Ms Shellie-Manso summed up its approach: "A key focus of our Win in Food strategy is to bring innovation to our customers and at Sainsbury’s we’ve always been passionate about seeking out new or emerging brands."