The Product Innovation Research Group brings together the exceptional skills set and expertise of a multidisciplinary group of researchers from the University of Portsmouth Business School. This ranges from innovation and product development, to marketing, entrepreneurship and accounting.

The group was formed to perform pioneering research – empirical, theoretical, collaborative and practical – in both established and emerging domains. Examples of our current key areas of special interest include:

  • The development of new packaging for FMCG products
  • Business model innovation within food retailing
  • Developing new products for the elderly market
  • Manufacturing process innovation and its links to product innovation
  • Modelling new product diffusion
  • Linkages between the supply chain, new product development and adoption
  • Sustainable product development and food waste

The group has established links with a number of local, national and international firms operating in a number of industries. This has included delivering workshops for industry, working on Knowledge Transfer Partnerships will organisations, and delivering a variety of other services to industry.

The key aim of the group is to achieve research excellence in Innovation and Product Development fields, and enhance the knowledge transfer activities to deepen our relationships between business and public organisations. We are committed to engaging with SMEs, large companies, and public bodies.

The group has areas of emerging research excellence in Innovation Management and New Product Development in both Low and Medium Technology Industries. We also have particular expertise in food packaging development and the adoption of new packaging formats and materials. The group has an outwards looking focus, having undertaken collaborative research projects with both small and large organisations. Recent collaborative research projects have included: food product and process innovation, the adoption of sustainable packaging, and innovation in both plastics and non-plastic packaging formats.

The research group also provides an excellent environment for PhD and MSc studies. It welcomes applications from prospective PhD students. Furthermore, the group has a track record of working on sponsored PhD projects with Industry and the public sector.The Product Innovation Research Group is able to work jointly with the Faculty of Technology and the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, to provide technical solutions and knowledge alongside the managerial issues we address in our activities.

The product innovation research groups understanding of the management of innovation and new product development is combined with the universities wider facilities within the future Technology Centre, the faculty of engineering and the faculty of science. This enables us to combine our understanding of effective innovation Management, with scientific and technical resources.

Research themes and specialist areas of interest

The Product Innovation Research Group undertakes research in a wide variety of areas linked to innovation and product development. It welcomes enquiries on proposed new projects or topics of study within the broad theme of innovation and product development. The current areas of specialist interest for the group include, but are not limited to, the following:

New product and packaging development in the food industry

This area of research follows on from a PhD project sponsored by Chesapeake Corp. an international packaging manufacturer. The project involves a number of leading national food and FMCG firms, as well as food retailers. The project aims at understanding how packaging can be effectively managed by FMCG firms to capture the opportunities that exist for packaging innovation.

A number of research projects have been established to develop upon critical areas uncovered within this ongoing project. These include research examining: product adoption and diffusion within the FMCG industry, innovation within small food suppliers, and food waste reduction through the development of new packaging.

Product development for the elderly

This area of research forms part of a PhD project sponsored by Crown Packaging, an international packaging manufacturer. The project has involved a number of leading UK and International firms. The project has established new processes and methods to capture the needs of the Elderly in the product development process.

Manufacturing process innovation

This area of research forms part of a PhD project sponsored by Crown Packaging, an international packaging manufacturer. The project has involved a number of leading UK and International firms. The project has established new processes and methods to capture the needs of the Elderly in the product development process.

Business model innovation

This research project focusing on the business models of leading retails in the UK and Europe. The project has uncovered the critical aspects of the retailer’s business model, and how firms can create a tighter link between their strategy and business model, in order to facilitate change. This ongoing project is providing new and more detailed insights into the activities of FMCG retailers and how they can match their strategy and business model.

PhD sponsorship by Crown Holdings 

PhD Sponsored by Crown Holdings

Project Title: “Packaging Development in an Ageing Society: A Case Study Approach in the United Kingdom Fast-Moving Consumers Goods Industry”

This PhD projected explored the development of new FMCG packaging in the context of an ageing society. The aims of the study were to explore how the ageing process affects packaging experiences, and to investigate how firms attempt to deliver value to older people using packaging development.

This research was of particular interest to Crown Holdings, a leading metal packaging manufacturer. Having recognised the growth of the ‘Senior market’, Crown had in previous projects developed packaging with the needs of older people in mind. These projects led to the development of successful new ‘easy-open’ closures for food cans and glass jars. However, the development teams had been relatively limited in their engagement with older people. Therefore, they required more in-depth understanding of how ageing affects packaging needs to enable them to deliver greater value to older consumers.

Using a multidimensional perspective of ageing (including consideration of biological, psychological, and social changes), the research uncovered a variety of consumer experiences that offer implications for future packaging development projects. These experiences include difficulties opening and transporting products, issues with illegible product information, and oversized food portions, all of which detract from the value derived from FMCG products. The data gathered and narratives provided by consumers provided the sponsors with a source of new products ideas to deliver greater value to older people. The PhD project also included case study research with several firms involved with the development of new FMCG products and packaging. These case studies explored development processes and perceptions of older people and the ageing process. These findings provided the sponsor with insights into firm-level and development team-level factors which may enhance their ability to deliver value to the ‘senior market’.

Links to articles in media about the research

The Express


Packaging News

PhD sponsership by Kernpack 

PhD Sponsored by KernPack

Project Title: Examining the Reciprocal Relationship between Product and Process Innovation

This PhD project is undertaking a research to develop a better understanding of the benefits companies can obtain through developing a closer interrelationship between product and process innovation. Thus providing a justification for packaging machinery investment by their customers. These benefits might include; a greater number of new products, improved changeover times, reduced time-to-market period and easing the production ramp-up process. A better understanding of these factors, how their customers can take advantages of the opportunities for product and process innovations, and a framework to help salespeople to market these benefits, will aid KernPack in their selling process. Particular attention will be given to how food firms manage their production process, and their product development processes, in order to enable them to take advantage of the potential benefits.

This research will include modeling and production of case studies to build new understanding of KernPack’s customers, potential customers, their equipment and requirements, and successful investment projects. The outputs will act as a value added analysis tool for potential customers, helping them to see further opportunities created through process innovation, beyond the well-known cost and efficiency. Further, the researcher will provide recommendations on how to incorporate these benefits into the sales process. The academic supervisor of this project is Dr. Christopher Simms and industrial supervisor is Kim Comotto.

Links to articles in media about the research

Food and Drink Technology

Food and Drink International


PhD sponsored by Chesapeake Corporation 

PhD Sponsored by Chesapeake Corp.

Project title: “An Analysis of the Management of Packaging within New Product Development: An Investigation in the UK Food and Drinks Sectors”

This PhD project investigated the management of product packaging innovation in the UK FMCG Industry, and specifically the Food and Drinks Sectors. The purpose of the study was twofold: to examine how the development of a new product’s packaging is managed and integrated into the new product development (NPD) process of firms; and to explore how firms in the industry manage the opportunities that new packaging development may provide.

This research was of key importance to Chesapeake, a large International Packaging Manufacturer. Chesapeake wished to understand more about their customers, FMCG firms, NPD processes. Specifically they wanted to gain new insights into how packaging was managed within this process, as well as how to identify firms that would be suitable for targeting with new technologies. Hence they needed to be able to identify firms that had a more innovative approach to adopting new packaging technologies.

The PhD research project found that many FMCG firms only possessed the capability to focus on packaging development at a ‘skin-deep’ level, meaning their emphasis was on the development or design of the label. A large number of FMCG firms also had the capability for aesthetic modifications to the body of the packaging, such as changing the colour of a bottle. Hence neither of the aforementioned types of firms were appropriate for targeting with new technologies, as they were not receptive to new innovations. A third type of firm was identified within the research, these firms placed an emphasis on the development of new packaging formats. Hence they genuinely considered new packaging innovations as a part of their ongoing new product development activities. Hence these firms were considered to be a target for Chesapeake when marketing new technologies.

From the results of this research project recommendations were made on how to identify firms that had the capability for technological change, and were receptive to new technologies. We identified a number of factors that influenced this capability, including technological expertise within the firm, perceptions of the production process, the role of buyers, and concerns over the impact of changes on the product’s retailing. The results of this research project not only provided information for the sponsor to assist their R&D activities, but also contained managerial implications of value to FMCG firms in order to enhance their capability for technological change. 

This project resulted in publications in R&D Management and the European Journal of Marketing. The sponsorship also generated publicity in the packaging media, including Packaging Professional and Packaging Europe.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)

KTP with Bounce Foods Limited

Product Innovation Research Group actively engages with businesses from the food and drink industry on collaborative research projects. The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) are aimed at Small to medium enterprises (SME's) or supply chains who seek to improve their profitability and competitiveness. The four key aims of these projects are to:

  1. Transfer knowledge and skills from universities to industry
  2. Develop high calibre graduates for industrial carers
  3. Increase the industrial relevance of academic research and teaching
  4. Encourage investment by industry in innovation 

Project title: “Opening a ‘future proof’ production site in the United Kingdom”

Partly funded by InnovateUK

Bounce Foods Ltd is producing highly nutritious, great tasting, energy-giving protein Energy Bounce Balls for people with healthy active lifestyle. Originally founded in Australia in 2004, Bounce is fast becoming an international success story. Now you'll find the Balls in UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Canada and, as of 2014, USA. The objective of this Knowledge Transfer Partnership is development of innovative manufacturing capability within UK to enable the production of current products. Moreover, to ensure that the adopted production machinery is ‘future proof’ and flexible to develop further products by collaboration with the Product Innovation Research Group (PIRG). This will allow the company to continue to compete, and grown, within the expanding UK and EU healthy snack foods sector.

At the moment the company imports the Bounce Energy Balls from the USA. By the end of the second year of the project, Bounce Foods LTD will replicate the healthy snack production in the UK as well as initiate further product innovation. This project is partly governmentally funded by InnovateUK and is supervised by the company CEO, Mr. Mark Tanous.

The KTP associate working on the project for Bounce is Konstantinos Zisakis, who is employed by the University of Portsmouth to work on the project full-time. Konstantinos is placed as an Innovation Project Manager at Bounce Foods LTD healthy snack company in Guildford. Konstantinos background is in Nutrition and Marketing and he recently finished a postgraduate degree in Food Innovation at the University of Greenwich. Before this he worked as a medical delegate for Nestle Nutrition back in his home country Greece. He became part of the small Bounce team in March and his role is to plan, design and promote the launch of innovative products in the food sector. His goal is to produce foodstuffs that will help people change and improve their lives under a product brand that inspires health consciousness and nutrition awareness.

The KTP program allows the associate to learn, practice and apply New Product Development methodologies, Project Management, Portfolio Management, as well as, explore Food Manufacturing Innovation within this project. This includes designing an innovation model for the company by obtaining and applying knowledge from the PIRG Staff. The project brings the industry and academia together in order to stimulate business growth, encourage food manufacturing within the UK, and consequently financial growth by generating job positions within the expanding company and the healthy snack sector.

After the completion of the KTP, Konstantinos aims to start a PhD in Food Manufacturing Process Innovation at the University of Portsmouth and head towards a career as an Executive Product Manager within the company.


Our research group has received funding from both industry collaborators, including small and large firms, as well as having gained access to government grants. In particular we have extensive experience of gaining KTP funding.

Recent funders include the British Academy, The German Science Foundation and the Central Bank of the Netherlands. In October 2018, we received £674,835 from the National Institute for Health Research. £23,628 from Havant Borough Council for Evaluation of Havant Active Ageing Project.

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