Innovation Challenges

Challenge Owner(s)
Alliance to End Plastic Waste, Changi Airport Group (CAG), EM Services, ExxonMobil, Mercedes-Benz, WWF Singapore
Organiser(s) Enterprise Singapore (ESG)
Industry Type(s)
Circular Economy & Sustainability, Digital/ICT, Environmental Services, Sustainable Energy, Urban Solutions
Opportunities and Support Cash prizes, paid trials, pilot projects, and test-bedding opportunities await!
Application Start Date 20 August 2021
Application End Date 24 October 2021
Website Click here to learn more

About Challenge

With ever increasing global average temperatures, diminishing natural resources, growing waste, and rising greenhouse gas emissions, there is an urgent need to develop and implement sustainable solutions to restore and protect our environment.

As the recovery of our ecosystems is both a complex and multi-faceted challenge, collaboration is key to innovate towards a more sustainable future.

Following the successes of the past two Sustainability Open Innovation Challenges (SOICs), Enterprise Singapore (ESG) is once again collaborating with key industry partners to launch our third edition of the challenge with challenge statements in key sustainability areas such as sustainable materials, waste management, and sustainable food source.

We are inviting innovative companies to participate in this challenge not only for the chance to collaborate with major partners, testbed and access funding to develop the solutions, but to also play a critical role in building a more sustainable future for the world.

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Challenge Owner(s)Alliance to End Plastic Waste
Industry Types(s)
Circular Economy & Sustainability, Environmental Services, Urban Solutions

Alliance to End Plastic Waste

Singapore’s strategic “Zero Waste Masterplan” has resource resiliency as one of the key 3 pillars. The MSE has set an ambitious 30% reduction target of waste (kg/capita) sent to landfill by 2030. This is incremental to achieving a 70% recycling rate by the same year. The aim is to achieve circularity and endlessly reuse resources. Since Singapore collects unsegregated waste, new approaches are needed to step change capabilities to sort out the main incoming waste streams. Complex waste mixes need to be split efficiently and accurately into its constituents.

This sorting is either manual, or requires high capital investment automated solutions. Efficient, easy to implement, and cost-effective solutions are even more needed not only in Singapore but also beyond, and in emerging economies.

This is a critical step in driving waste reductions and enhanced recycling efforts, and will need to work concurrently with additional downstream solutions enabling further advanced waste separation.

What We Are Looking For

The modular Materials Recovery Facility (mMRF) is to extract recyclables (plastic, glass, paper/cardboard, metal etc.) from a single stream of mixed waste (i.e. deployed after the separation of food and wet waste in a co-mingled waste recovery facility) and is expected to process 4-5 tonnes of waste per hour on a semi-commercial, scaled prototype with the goal to achieve a rapidly deployable system with both low implementation and operational cost at scale.

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Challenge Owner(s)Alliance to End Plastic Waste
Industry Types(s)
Circular Economy & Sustainability, Digital/ICT, Environmental Services, Urban Solutions

Alliance to End Plastic Waste

Faced with a landfill space shortfall driven by its highest degree of urbanisation, Singapore took a bold step in 1973 to develop the first waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration plant in Asia outside of Japan.

Plastics are a main constituent of the main waste stream, that once segregated constitutes a resource that could be reused endlessly in Singapore but also in the entire ASEAN region. To achieve this, accurate separation of particular resins from the mixed plastic stream is required. However, most sorting lines installed in Asia are manual and so developing an approach to deploy advanced detection with manual sorting is a critical solution. Ideally needs to work concurrently with the main waste stream sorting solution.

What We Are Looking For

An advanced detection technology (object recognition, AI, NIR, UV, digital watermark, chemical tracers, etc.) to a manual sorting line to identify and segregate particular resins from a mixed plastic waste stream. Technology solution can be lab-scale or semi-commercial.

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Challenge Owner(s)Changi Airport Group (CAG)
Industry Types(s)
Circular Economy & Sustainability, Environmental Services, Urban Solutions

Changi Airport Group

Working towards a Zero Waste airport, Changi Airport Group (‘CAG’) strives to integrate its waste management practices and works with partners to improve its waste recycling rate, constantly looking out for opportunities that efficiently uses its resources and technologies that could help minimize waste being sent to Singapore’s incineration plants.

What We Are Looking For

The solutions will support the Zero Waste Vision as well as reduce waste sent to incineration and landfill. Reduction measures recycling and waste conversion / circular economy impact will be key performance indicators. Startups with a ready-to-implement solution and/or a component to integrate to existing solutions are welcomed.

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Challenge Owner(s)EM Services
Industry Types(s)
Circular Economy & Sustainability, Environmental Services, Urban Solutions

EM Services

In the year 2020, 539,000 tonnes of food waste was disposed of in Singapore. While the National Environment Agency has established the Resource Sustainability Act in order to implement measures to address food waste, it targets large commercial and industrial premises. Hawker centres, food courts and other smaller food establishments currently do not have the means or the infrastructure to eliminate food waste produced on site. The composted output can be used as fertiliser for nurseries or community gardens.

What We Are Looking For

A mobile, modular solution that can be deployed at various locations without space constraints and that can digest food within. The resulting compost to be reused.

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Challenge Owner(s)EM Services
Industry Types(s)
Circular Economy & Sustainability, Digital/ICT, Urban Solutions

EM Services

As of 2020, there are a total of 114 hawker centres in Singapore. As a food centre, it is crucial to ensure the environment is hygienic. Currently, hawker centres need to be closed for one day for cleaning. High pressure water jetting for thorough cleaning and washing of the centre is deployed. The closure affects hawkers’ earnings and the current jetting method consumes a lot of water and is labour intensive.

What We Are Looking For


An autonomous cleaning robot that is able to operate without disruptions to hawker centres’ operations and reduces resource intensive water and labour consumption.

The ideal solution should give an increase in productivity by 100%. For example, 2 robots can be used concurrently at 2 different locations with the same worker.

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Challenge Owner(s)ExxonMobil
Industry Types(s)
Circular Economy & Sustainability, Energy & Chemicals, Sustainable Energy

ExxonMobil

Develop new polymer families with tunable properties, benchmarking commercial materials (e.g. polyolefin, metal, glass) and with enhanced chemical recyclability under mild condition and/or biodegradability. Applicable segments would include auto, rigid packaging, mechanical parts, and electronics, piping, others.

What We Are Looking For

Next generation materials to achieve the ecosystem above-mentioned. Polymer performance testing will be key criteria.

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Challenge Owner(s)Mercedes-Benz
Industry Types(s)Circular Economy & Sustainability

Mercedes-Benz 

Under the heading “Ambition 2039”, Mercedes-Benz Cars has set itself ambitious goals. As part of this, we are examining the issue of sustainability along the entire value chain. The goal is the transformation of the full range of passenger cars into a carbon-neutral product range as of 2039. This includes – from socially and climate-friendly degraded raw materials, through the supply chain, and the production of the vehicles – all stages up to the use phase as well as recycling concepts. Already during the development of a new model, Mercedes-Benz Cars looks at its environmental performance over the entire life cycle. Vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Cars are scrutinized in a comprehensive life-cycle assessment, the so-called 360-degree environmental check: from manufacture of the raw materials to production and from vehicle operation to recycling at the end of the vehicle’s service life – a long way off in the case of a new Mercedes-Benz.

To support us enabling this ambitious plan and to drive the road towards a holistic approach to sustainability within the entire company, at the Singapore Open Innovation Challenge 2021 (SOIC), we are specifically searching for innovations and startups working in the field of sustainable materials.

What We Are Looking For

We are looking for all kinds of materials and technologies that can make our products more sustainable. As an example, we are searching for leather alternatives (e.g. plant-based or fungal) and alternative sustainable materials that can reduce the use of plastic. Your technology/material is ideally already tested to hold up to automotive quality standards; however, this can also be achieved during the collaboration process.

The solution must be adaptable to the automotive context and should ideally already be market-tested. A use case specifically in the automotive context does not necessarily have to be done yet, but the solution should be adoptable to this context. We are mainly looking for startups that have at least a first prototype, product or process in place. Startups in a later development stage and SMEs are also suitable.

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Challenge Owner(s)ExxonMobil
Industry Types(s)
Circular Economy & Sustainability, Environmental Services, Urban Solutions

ExxonMobil

Singapore generates ~900kt of plastic waste annually (source: NEA). By processing these wastes, such as sorting and cleaning, the recovered plastics can become
feedstock to be processed again into respective polymers, thereby reducing plastic waste going to incineration, landfill or the waterways and ocean. Infant and adult diapers are made from recyclable polymers, but were never recycled when soiled.

What We Are Looking For

There are solution providers in US and Europe that utilizes different technologies to convert plastic waste streams into feedstock to be reproduced into respective polymers. Potential to collaborate with overseas solution providers to develop Singapore startups into regional/global solution providers to shorten the development timeline.

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Challenge Owner(s)WWF Singapore
Industry Types(s)
Circular Economy & Sustainability, Digital/ICT

WWF Singapore

Continued demand for unsustainable seafood is threatening fish stocks and will lead to issues in food security, causing businesses in the seafood sector to face key challenges such as supply volatility and price instability. Through our partnerships with the hospitality and F&B industry, WWF-SG identified the challenge of identifying unsustainable products and finding suitable alternatives in their seafood procurement lists as one key barrier hindering businesses from engaging in responsible seafood procurement is. Current practices require not just technical expertise in understanding what constitutes seafood unsustainability but also the need for man-hour intensive efforts to identify such products within procurement lists.

What We Are Looking For

The outcome could be in the form of a one-stop website, or potentially an API that can integrate with procurement systems in order to provide this real-time analysis. Solution adopters that purchase high volumes and varieties of seafood should be able to reduce man-hours required to quickly and efficiently understand where they stand in terms of sustainability. The solution should also be scalable to other regions/products and be adaptable to include other innovative opportunities and functionalities.

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