February 15, 2018

Innovation happens when you imagine the unimaginable

Imagination and courage earned a team of students from Poland and a young Singaporean student the Yara Open Innovation Challenge prize for their ideas on how to solve circular economy and sustainable packaging challenges.

Shaping our future

Back in June 2017, Yara Corporate Innovation asked students to share their best ideas on how to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges, in the company’s Open Innovation Challenge. Last week, the winner, or, as it turned out, the winnerS, were selected by Yara Management and handed a combined NOK 100,000 in prize money following a pitch event at Yara House in Oslo.

Out of 62 submissions, the top five finalists presented their ideas to solve challenges related to Environmental Solutions, Sustainable Packaging, Agricultural Technologies and Circular Economy. The Open Innovation Challenge reached 150,000 students.

A Polish team of students, consisting of Mateusz Nowakowski, Wojciech Nowak, Viktoriya Dromaretska were awarded for their idea on how Yara’s by-product Gypsum could be utilized to produce Calcium-Ion Rechargeable Batteries.

“We use the Gypsum from the stockpiles to convert it into electrolyte for Calcium-Ion rechargeable batteries,” said Viktoriya. “Gypsum stockpiles will diminish but also the electric cars can be cheaper and more popular,” her colleague Mateusz added.

Secondly, Veric Tan from Singapore was chosen for his idea to design a "YaraBag" that is not only bio degradable but can also double up as a water retention container. He joined the pitch event via video link.

Open Innovation at Yara

Yara Open Innovation Challenge awarding

For us at Yara, the open innovation challenge is an opportunity to get impulses from outside of the company and exposed to fresh new ideas. "At Yara we must innovate with a purpose. It needs to be a response to needs rather than creating new needs. It needs to benefit all of society not only a part of it," said Yara’s CEO Svein Tore Holsether in his welcoming address at the open innovation challenge, which took place in Oslo, Norway on Feb.2.

"The Open Innovation challenge has given us new perspectives on how we can solve some of the greatest challenges of our time, while at the same time built awareness in the student communities about these challenges," says Kajsa Ryttberg Wallgren VP Open Innovation and Innovation Embedment Strategy. "Our Innovation Challenges for students represent the beginning of Open innovation collaboration with young and entrepreneurial minds," she adds.

Open innovation reaches out to the wider society through partnerships, open innovation challenges, and through investments in start-ups and new ventures. It forms part of an effort to strengthen innovation in Yara.