Innovation Challenges

Challenge Owner(s)
Shell, WS Audiology, Unilever
Organiser(s) IPI Singapore
Industry Type(s)
Circular Economy & Sustainability, Sustainable Energy
Opportunities and Support Opportunities to co-develop and testbed solutions with challenge statement owners
Application Start Date 13 September 2021
Application End Date 31 December 2021
Website Click here to learn more

About Challenge

Crowdsourcing @ TechInnovation 2021 is a unique open innovation platform for large corporations to engage the innovation community and seek technology solutions and partnerships to solve specific business challenges.

This innovation challenge is a call to action for global startups, SMEs and research institutes that have the relevant technology or innovative solution to address our corporate partners’ challenge statements.

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Challenge Owner(s)Shell
Industry Types(s)
Agri-tech, Circular Economy & Sustainability

Shell

Shell is committed to contributing to a net-zero world and has set a target to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050. Many of our customers have also announced their targets to achieve net-zero emissions. We will work together with our customers to change and grow demand for innovative low-carbon energy products and services.

Shell Agriculture & Forestry (A&F) aspires to enhance quality of life by supporting the production of food, clean air, water and soil by offering purposeful sustainable solutions to the A&F sector, creating value for all stakeholders.

Requirements

In this challenge, Shell A&F seeks partnership with solution providers and technology owners that offers novel and scalable solutions to decarbonise and offset greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Specifically, Shell A&F aims to drive and provide solutions that monitor, reduce, capture and offset GHG in agricultural and forestry activities, through

Monitoring

  • Solutions that enable measurement and monitoring of surface and sub-surface soil carbon, which includes soil organic carbon (SOC), soil inorganic carbon, total carbon, as well as a feature to diagnose and track soil carbon changes due to various dynamics such as seasonal fluctuations, agricultural practices, use of fertilisers and stimulants, etc.

Reduction and Capturing

  • Solutions or means to sequestrate or fix atmospheric carbon into agricultural/forest soil to improve soil health. IoT-assisted regenerative practices, erosion control, restoration/remediation practices, use of microbial (fungi/bacteria) processes to reduce SOC losses and increase carbon input into soil, utilisation of novel energy crops or woody biomass from agricultural waste as feedstocks for energy production or conversion into valuable materials are among the solutions that may be considered.

Offsetting

  • Solutions with a digital platform to track, analyse and aggregate the GHG reduction, capture or offset activities in a holistic manner, so as to facilitate the potential setup of a carbon credit marketplace, in which farmers from different regions may participate and generate additional incomes by selling carbon credits generated from emission reduction practices.
  • Solutions that improve the yield of food crops in urban agriculture, such as AI/IoT assisted-indoor/outdoor vertical farming systems and technology that reduces energy, water, fertiliser and pesticides consumption, as well as through various controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) techniques.
  • Solutions that relate to green fertiliser manufacturing process technology that is resource and energy efficient, as well as novel fertiliser technology that may help to improve agricultural soil health and boost crop productivity by providing/replenishing essential nutrients, including the macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium-based) and micronutrients. Greener production process, the use of zero-carbon/green ammonia as precursors and fertilisers that enable atmospheric carbon sequestration into soil are among the solutions that may be considered.

Solution providers and technology owners may also propose solutions or alternative approaches that align with the above interest areas. The solution provider must be able to conduct a pilot test at a suitable location determined by Shell A&F. Solutions with at least technology readiness level of TRL 4 (prototype in lab) is preferable. Shortlisted proposals will have to go through a selection process where solution providers will pitch their solution to Shell A&F and relevant business units for further evaluation.

Possible Solution

  • No specific on the cost target of the solution. 
  • Depending on the type and scalability of the solution and other assessment criteria, Shell A&F may consider a potential partnership to deploy the solution across the agriculture and/or forestry value chains where relevant.

Development Timeframe

  • The solution provider must be able to conduct and complete the pilot test within a period of 6-12 months or within a suitable period determined by Shell A&F.
Additional Info

Shell A&F may provide necessary access and arrangement to a pilot test site for demonstration and validation of the solution.

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Challenge Owner(s)Unilever
Industry Types(s)Digital/ICT

Unilever

Unilever is the largest Ice Cream manufacturer in the world, with over a billion smiles delivered every year in over 40 countries. Every day, millions of consumers choose our products from the frozen cabinets in the local baker, at a beach kiosk, or in a convenience store. These freezer cabinets keep our ice cream perfect for consumption occasions, but also present an issue relating to getting lost or stolen from the points of sale. We are looking for low-cost solutions (with a cost of not more than €10 per cabinet) to know the location of these cabinets in real time.  

Each operating country should have a central hub with the system providing the option for individual regional sales teams/distributors to manage their fleet of cabinets. Ideally, we would like an IoT/Telemetry solution that provides information on 3 parameters viz. cabinet location, temperature performance, sales from the cabinet. However, we do realize that these come at a price so a very low-cost option that gives cabinet location should suffice.

We are happy to be guided by expert advice on the most efficient and cost-effective solutions regarding the choice of IOT networks (e.g., LPWAN, bluetooth, cellular or wideband network) that we should consider.

Several off the shelf and customised solutions from several companies have been studied and found to be too expensive for implementation across our cabinet fleet.

Requirements

The solution should be easily retrofittable by non-technical personnel at the points of sale on existing cabinets that are in operation. It should meet all global and local legislation on safety. It should not entail any additional need for electrical wiring etc as this would affect the CE certification of the cabinet. Ideally the beacon or tag should have a battery lifetime lasting over 8 years.

Solutions proposed should be easily retrofittable at the Point of Sale or in the warehouse as a single man operation taking no more than an hour. 

Relevant standards 
All cabinets purchased by Unilever must comply with the regulation of the country in which it will be installed (e.g., CE, UL, CCC, NOM 022 etc.). Where no local legislation is applicable, the cabinets comply with CE or UL (Underwriting Laboratories) rules. Hence any retrofit solution being proposed should ensure that the above approvals on the cabinets are not violated as the responsibility/ liability for the optimal performance and safe working of cabinets should rest with cabinet manufacturers.

During prototype phase if approvals are difficult or time consuming to achieve then we could consider prototypes for in house lab testing. However, units that are to go into point-of-sale outlets later would need necessary approvals.

Desired Outcome

  • A very low-cost solution of not more than €10 per cabinet and retrofittable on existing cabinets.
  • Trial size: One or two countries with about 200 cabinets retrofitted with the solution would be a good start to test technical feasibility and commercial viability.

  • Opportunity to eventually retrofit this to Unilever’s cabinet fleet of over 1 million units.

Development Timeframe

Solutions should be available for testing in 2022, with a view towards industrial application in 2023.

Additional Info

  • While no budgets have been set apart for this development, Unilever would consider supporting cost of prototypes for testing. However, we would expect to know indicative costs of these prior to any development prototypes being produced. Support for field testing including test locations can be provided.
  • This is strategic as part of the ongoing initiatives to bring digital connectivity to Unilever’s selling systems.

  • Target innovator community (students, SMEs, start-ups) can be considered.

  • Early test of prototypes in one country or region but the application if successful will be global – in all countries where Unilever has an ice cream business.

  • Unilever would ideally like to own the IP or have exclusive use of the IP if development funding is provided. However, this can be discussed in more detail going forward. 

Challenge Owner(s)Unilever
Industry Types(s)
Energy & Chemicals, Sustainable Energy

Unilever

Unilever is the largest ice cream manufacturer in the world, with over a billion smiles delivered every year in over 40 countries. Every day, millions of consumers choose our products from the frozen cabinets in the local baker, at a beach kiosk, or in a convenience store. These point-of-sale freezer cabinets keep our ice cream perfect for consumption, but also represent a significant proportion of our greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint, due to the energy required to maintain ice cream frozen at -18°C. 

Retail emissions—specifically ice cream freezers—account for 10% of Unilever’s value chain GHG footprint, and Unilever owns a fleet of over 3 million point-of-sale freezer cabinets. These freezers are typically set to a temperature below -18°C. 

We are looking for solutions to lower the energy use per cabinet while maintaining the required ice cream quality.  These solutions could relate to the refrigeration system as well other construction aspects of the cabinet.

Our ice cream cabinets currently work using the widely used vapour compression refrigeration system. While most of the fleet uses static refrigeration, some of the special models as in scooping or verticals work with ventilated systems. Over the last few years, we have been working to reduce energy consumption of our freezers by moving to hydrocarbon refrigerants (propane and isobutane), use of energy efficient components (compressors, fan motors, and low E glass).

Other solutions that we have assessed 
The use of solid insulated lids have been considered, however ice cream being an impulse product category, the visibility of the products is key for improved sales hence use of solid/opaque lids that prevent consumers from seeing the ice cream is not accepted by the trade. Solar films and other electrically activated films that change from opaque to transparent have been tested but have either been ineffective or too expensive to implement.

Requirements

We would like to seek solutions that are able to reduce energy consumption of ice cream cabinets through the main technical components of, but not limited to, compressors, natural refrigerants, fan motors, insulation, temperature controllers and glass panels.

Proposed solutions for the ice cream cabinets needs to meet the following requirements:

  • Improved energy consumption to be less than 2 kWh/24 hours
  • Achieve -18°C temperature 24/7 in ambient conditions of up to 40°C and a relative humidity of 75%
  • For insulating material solutions, thermal conductivity to be improved from 0.02 – 0.03 W/m·K
  • Innovative compressor solutions should be compact and fit into a 500mm*400mm*300mm compact space
  • Meet all safety considerations in terms of food contact
  • Meet all electric and fire safety standards for use at points-of-sale

Other relevant information:

  • Cabinets operate on single phase 220V 50 Hz AC electricity source in most countries, except in some countries like the US where it is 115V 60 Hz AC
  • Internal volume of cabinets range from 200 – 500L (static) and 100 – 150L (mobile)
  • In existing cabinets, the insulation material consists of polyurethane foam, with an environmentally friendly blowing agent like cyclopentane
  • The glass lids on cabinets are mainly single pane with a low emissivity (low-E) coating
  • Relevant standards - Any cabinet purchased by Unilever must comply with the regulation of the country in which it will be installed (e.g., CE, UL, CCC, NOM 022 etc.). Where no local legislation is applicable, the cabinets must anyway comply with CE or UL (Underwriting Laboratories) rules. 

Solutions like more efficient insulation or a refrigeration technology that is more cost effective than vapour compression systems may be adopted on Unilever’s new ice cream cabinets or retrofitted on the current fleet of cabinets in the field. 

Solutions proposed to reduce energy consumption on existing cabinets in the field should be easily retrofittable at the point-of-sale or in the warehouse as a single man operation taking no more than an hour. For new cabinets being produced in a factory for which solutions may be proposed this can be flexible.

If approvals are difficult or time consuming to achieve during the prototype phase, we could consider prototypes for in-house lab testing. However, units that are to go into point-of-sale outlets later would need necessary approvals.

Desired Outcome

Ice cream cabinets are mass produced and relatively low cost (ranging from around €120 to €400 depending on the size/volume of the models). Hence any add on cost required for the new features suggested would need to be extremely low or provide substantial benefits that outweigh the increase investment.

Unilever currently has a cabinet fleet of around three million ice cream cabinets globally with a large addition to the fleet annually.

Development Timeframe

Solutions should be available for testing in 2022, with a view towards industrial application in 2023.

Additional Info

  • While no budgets have been set apart for this development, Unilever would consider supporting cost of prototypes for testing. However, we would expect to know indicative costs of these prior to any development prototypes being produced. Support for field testing including test locations can be provided.
  • This is strategic as part of the ongoing initiatives to bring Unilever another step closer to achieving net zero by 2039.
  • Target innovator community (students, SMEs, start-ups) can be considered.
  • Early test of prototypes in one country or region but the application if successful will be global – in all countries where Unilever has an ice cream business.
  • Unilever would ideally like to own the IP or have exclusive use of the IP if development funding is provided. However this can be discussed in more detail going forward. 
Challenge Owner(s)WS Audiology
Industry Types(s)
Circular Economy & Sustainability, Energy & Chemicals

WS Audiology 

WS Audiology (WSA) combines 140 years of experience and expertise in hearing technology and develops one in every three hearing aids worldwide. WSA aims to be the most sustainable hearing aid company, and we are committed to make our packaging more sustainable. 

Each one of our hearing aids comes inside a jewel case currently produced with post-consumer recycled (PCR) acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) or virgin acrylonitrile styrene acrylate (ASA) plastic. The jewel case has a clamshell design to provide external protection to the hearing aids that it holds within. The jewel case is white in colour and is expected to have a lifespan of 3 – 8 years, withstanding daily usage and long-term wear and tear from being carried around and opened/closed—at least twice a day. 

WSA is thus seeking to develop a more sustainable packaging material by fully or partially replacing virgin plastics used in manufacturing the jewel cases. The proposed solution can be a recycled material or full sustainable material solution, and should be able to fulfil WSA’s brand requirements, such as retaining the colour, functionality and quality of their existing jewel case packaging.

Solution providers should be able to manufacture or be willing to work with appointed manufacturers (outside of Singapore) to pilot and subsequently scale up the production of the material solution for commercial scale manufacturing.

Requirements

WSA is open to receive proposals of plastic and non-plastic solutions, so long as the material is of a sustainable nature/source, and is able to match the current requirements.

The proposed technology or material solution should be able to achieve the following:

  • Fully or partially (between 60 to 70%) replace virgin acrylonitrile styrene acrylate (ASA) or post-consumer recycled acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
  • Be of pure white colour – as close to color code RAL Signal White 9003 (CIELAB L*a*b 88, -0.40, 2.70)
  • UV resistant – through the use of compatible UV inhibitors or other methods 
  • Be compatible with injection moulding process
  • Mechanically stable – able to withstand more than 3 drops from a height of 0.75m on both the opening mechanism and at a 45° angle from the opening side 
  • Opening durability – able to last a minimum of 5,000 repeated opening and closure
  • Lacquer scratch test – lacquering on the material should be able to withstand abrasion in accordance to ASTM F2357-04
  • Printability – material should allow for printing on its surface, preferably via laser printing but open to other solutions
  • Colour leaching – all printings on the material should not leach colour; tested by wiping with a foam that will be moistened with sweat, and colour should not remain on the foam
  • Smell – all materials used for the jewel case should not release smell; smell test will be performed by WSA or its associates
Desired Outcome

  • The proposed technology has to be cost effective
  • Open to receive solutions of varied Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), starting from TRL 3
  • Solution providers should be able to manufacture or be willing to work with appointed manufacturers (outside of Singapore) to pilot and subsequently scale up the production of the material solution for commercial scale manufacturing. 
Development Timeframe

Solution development and pilot testing are expected to be accomplished within the next 12 months for the Singapore market. WSA is committed to achieve the development of a sustainable solution for its jewel cases within the next 3 years.

Additional Info

Annual usage of raw material approximately 50 tonnes.