Complex problems require advanced solutions and new ways of finding them. This is the thinking behind Novozymes’ new open innovation initiative, HelloScience, which aims to foster collaboration across borders, expertise and technologies on serious global challenges such as those addressed in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“The major global challenges are complex in nature and will be difficult to solve,” says Senior Vice President Claus Crone Fuglsang, Head of Research & Technology at Novozymes. “Novozymes has experience and expertise, but we don’t claim to have all the answers. We need to work together to deliver better systems to solve challenges within water, food, waste and more”.
Water and UNICEF’s E. coli challenge
HelloScience defines different themes for collaboration. The first theme is ‘water’ and includes five specific challenges.
One challenge is to develop an E. coli detection device which UNICEF believes there is a significant need for. Nearly 18,000 children die each day from diarrhea and other water-related diseases, contracted mostly through contaminated water or food. The current detection tests for E. coli bacteria take up to 24 hours to return a result. UNICEF seeks solutions for rapid on-the-spot testing of drinking water, and after initial technology screenings Novozymes sees that several parties could come together to meet the need of children.
Other challenges focus on biological solutions to remove polluting chemicals from water or improve cleaning of wastewater. That includes better filtering, less sludge, and recovery of phosphate, a precious nutrient, from wastewater.
“Water and sanitation are at the heart of sustainable development. One out of every seven people does not have adequate access to safe water, and nearly one in four does not have adequate sanitation,” says Claus Crone Fuglsang. “Novozymes already provides a range of microbial solutions for treatment of both industrial and municipal wastewater, but we believe biotech in combination with other technologies can play an even bigger role. HelloScience provides a timely opportunity to bring new innovative solutions into the world of water and wastewater treatment.”
Benefits for collaborators
Everybody with an interest in water can suggest ideas at HelloScience.io. Start-ups and small companies are the primary target group, but water experts, university researchers, corporates, NGOs, investors, students and others are also welcome. By posting ideas or solutions to a challenge, participants get access to a network of researchers and innovators to help elevate the concept and find synergies with systems proposed by other collaborators.
The best solutions will receive enzyme and microorganism samples from Novozymes and further access to experts, including Novozymes’ investment team and industry business teams.
A challenge runs for a specified length of time, at the end of which Novozymes offers one participant the opportunity to co-develop their solution with Novozymes.
All intellectual property generated in the challenges belongs to the idea provider.
Water scarcity is the first HelloScience theme, and will be followed by other themes.
Visit HelloScience.io for more information.
Johan Melchior, firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile +45 30 77 06 90