VTT is hosting an innovation contest on digitalisation of bioeconomy together with Helen, Lassila & Tikanoja and Valio. We will invite 12 innovator teams to solve three challenges provided by our partners, who support the participants before and during the contest, and will continue to work together with the best teams on a pilot project.
Industrial companies produce always two outcomes: the actual product and sidestreams, which are usually considered as waste from the process. One key problem in circular bioeconomy is that many industrial side-streams are not always disposed in the most economical and efficient way. Companies don’t have the means to find the best ways to dispose their waste. On the other hand, other companies might be willing to buy these sidestreams as their feed stock.
That’s why we want to experiment how it would be possible to collect data about side-streams from real cases in an easy and non-hassle way. How could we reach the right customers who need others’ waste as their key resources? How do we organise logistics of the material, and how could we facilitate a marketplace for these parties to meet? We are looking for new angles to solve these issues and provide three case perspectives to experiment with.
Case 1: Value out of cow manure with Valio
Valio is the biggest producer of dairy products in Finland, and is owned by 6.400 farmers. The volume of cow manure is 2.5 times higher than the production of milk. Currently, cow manure is spread out into the fields, which increases the phosphorus in soil and harms the body of water. Valio has developed a patented technology for creating value out on cow manure. The technology can be applied in factory scale or in mobile units. For efficient and economical treatment, the logistics of collecting the manure is also essential.
The challenge is to experiment with various models to offer the technology to farmers with digital business models. The value of this project relates to increased sustainability and environmental friendliness of the milk production chain, and opportunities to scale the concept globally.
Available resources: Data on hundreds of dairy farms and material amounts (location, amount of animals, amount of side stream), rough cost estimates of the factory and mobile solutions (comparisons), costs of manure handling.
Case 2: Value from power generation side streams with Helen
Helen is one of the biggest energy companies in Finland and is owned by the city of Helsinki. As an energy production company, one of their biggest side-streams are fly and bottom ash that comes out of the energy production process. Currently, the recycling of ash is difficult because of the varying quality, but could be used as raw material for various uses.
Could there be a service where producer can post their side streams, and make all side streams visible to all potential end-users? The service could also be expanded to forest biomass and include logistic companies to provide their services. How to build the value proposition for each party so that it would actually be used?
Resources: data about ash quality and quantity, energy production and side-stream market information
Case 3: Woodchips marketplace with Lassila & Tikanoja
Lassila & Tikanoja is the leading recycling company in Finland, and serves both homes and businesses. The company handles a lot of wooden waste and grinds them into woodchips. Currently, the woodchips are burnt and used in energy production. A big problem is the quality of the material, which varies a lot with seasonal changes.
How could we predict the market and manage the material flow of woodchips throughout the year? Could there be alternatives for re-use of wooden based materials e.g. bioethanol, WPC decking products, reinforcing material for construction? Increasing the value of material reuse based on circular economy? These scenarios could be enabled with a marketplace for this kind of materials, which would increase the use of mass in other uses than energy production.
Resources: quantity and quality data, burning combustion analysis data, sidestream experts
Only 4 teams will be selected to participate each challenge. By applying, each team commits to participate three events during the challenge.
- An excursion to case company on week 45
- Two-day hackathon hosted by VTT on November 18-19th in Espoo
- Demo and pilot proposal to case company’s management board on week 47
Exact dates for excursion and pilot proposal sessions will be clarified and announced later during the campaign. There will be mentors and industry experts from the companies and VTT to help and guide the teams.
The best demo of the hackathon hosted by VTT will win 3000 euros. After the hackathon, each case company will fund a maximum of 3 customer pilots with a budget of 10-20 000 euros each.
Apply with a team of 2-3 people to a specific challenge case. All applications will be reviewed after the deadline and all applicants will be informed one week after the deadline. 4 teams will be selected to join each challenge case.
Who will own my idea?
IPR for any software codebase or documents produced during the competition will stay with the team. The challenge owner has the first right of refusal for 30 days after the hack to negotiate further collaboration with the team to purchase or continue working on the project initiated in a pilot project.
For further information, please email us at email@example.com