Autocrat Natural Ingredients, Lincoln, R.I., opened a research and development lab and a consumer research office in the Boston area this year. Autocrat is a supplier of coffee and tea extracts and natural ingredients used in foods and beverages. Applications include ice cream, yogurt, iced cappuccino, ready-to-drink beverages and other products.

The 1,300-square-foot R&D Lab has a staff of six that includes trained sensory experts. The lab is fully equipped for technical development of new food and beverage products. The lab is certified by the Safe Quality Foods Institute, the Rainforest Alliance, the Fair Trade Federation, the Organic Trade Association, the American Halal Association, and OU Kosher. The consumer research building has kitchen space to support preparation of samples for taste testing.

Autocrat CEO Patrick Holmes said the company intends to help customers "develop and launch breakthrough new food and beverage products."

“The idea is that our customers can come here, their technical team can work with our team in the lab, then the ideas can be taken to the Consumer Research Site for consumer feedback and optimization,” said Autocrat COO Steve Olyha. “The objective is to have everything in one place to support joint innovation and new product development.”

Olyha said Autocrat will develop its own new products solutions and will work with customers in brainstorming sessions that lead "to collaborative development of new product solutions. In either situation, having both the R&D Lab and the consumer research site here together is a real advantage.”

The company has experience in developing customer solutions for applications including ice cream, iced cappuccino, ready-to-drink beverages, energy drinks, yogurt and soy beverages.