U of A, Nestlé Testing DiGiorno Pizza Kiosk in Fulbright Dining Hall

The kiosk is just outside the Fulbright Dining Hall and available 24/7 to those with keycard building access.
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The kiosk is just outside the Fulbright Dining Hall and available 24/7 to those with keycard building access.

A U of A student innovation team has partnered with Nestlé, the world's largest food and beverage company, to pilot a DiGiorno (R) hot pizza kiosk just outside Fulbright Dining Hall, the first for this brand on a college campus.

A group of students from the McMillon Innovation Studio will provide data analytics for the company as it operates the kiosk for a three-month pilot project, according to Braeden Calvert, team leader and a product manager in the Innovation Studio.

The kiosk, adjacent to the cafeteria and available 24/7 to those with keycard building access, offers two styles of pizza — pepperoni and cheese — in 10-inch, thin-crust pies. The pizzas are three servings per pizza, cost about $11, cook in seven minutes and are delivered in a take-out box via a delivery chute, Calvert said. A pizza cutter is provided as well.

Calvert said during the pilot his team will be "learning how to tailor the machine" to students' needs. The team, which includes Chloe Mosler, Hanin Ahmed and Riley Easterling, is also coordinating with Chartwells (aka Food on the Hill), which operates dining services on campus.

"It's a very cool thing to try," Calvert said. "I'm excited to start getting some data on customer satisfaction (and) how well they like the pizza."

Nestlé, which owns the DiGiorno brand, has tested kiosks previously at a Walmart in Colorado and at the Nestlé campus in Ohio, according to Food & Wine. The kiosks house a commercial-grade oven and frozen, pre-made pizzas.

Vending machines that dispense pizza have appeared on college campuses, but DiGiorno is the first "consumer packaged goods pizza brand to test these waters," Food & Wine reported.

More than an academic exercise, the initiative is a "tremendous honor" that "enhances our reputation as a leader in entrepreneurship and innovation," said Justin Urso, director of the McMillon Innovation Studio.

"It's a clear testament to the confidence that industry leaders have in our ability to contribute meaningfully to groundbreaking projects," Urso said.

"The success of this pilot with Nestlé and DiGiorno not only puts the University of Arkansas on the map as a prime test market but also establishes us as a preferred partner for leading brands and companies."

Launched in 2016, the studio serves as an innovation hub to students across the U of A campus and works to develop future leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators by cultivating their creative mindset and connecting them to opportunities to make real-world impact.  

Students in the studio are given access to valuable mentorship and resources — providing further support to cultivate their creative skills and empower them to deliver impact innovation through organizational, social and entrepreneurial change.

About the U of A Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation: The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation creates and curates innovation and entrepreneurship experiences for students across all disciplines. Through the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, McMillon Innovation Studio, Startup Village and Greenhouse at the Bentonville Collaborative, OEI provides free workshops and programs — including social and corporate innovation design teams, venture internships, competitions and startup coaching. A unit of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and Division of Economic Development, OEI also offers on-demand support for students who will be innovators within existing organizations and entrepreneurs who start something new.

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