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Open Innovation Challenge Calls up Start-Ups in Drive Towards Net Zero Concrete


Start-ups from around the world can play a leading role in helping an essential global industry in its efforts to cut CO2 emissions and help solve the climate challenge. They are being invited to apply for the Innovandi Open Challenge, an exciting international partnership programme, run by the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) and its member companies across the world.

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Applications for the 2023 GCCA Innovandi Open Challenge are now open (Graphic: Business Wire)

Applicants are being asked to work on the development of new materials and ingredients for low carbon concrete – a major step towards the ultimate goal of net zero concrete.

Innovation can help further unlock the delivery of low carbon concrete by reducing the amount of clinker used - the carbon intensive element of cement - or by using the most cutting-edge manufacturing processes. Alternative materials, including construction and demolition waste, can result in much lower CO2 emissions than concrete made in the traditional method, as well as reduce the need to use virgin raw materials.

The global challenge matches start-up companies with some of the world’s leading cement and concrete manufacturers, who operate in almost every country across the world, to work on initiatives to cut emissions and pioneer environmental change across the industry.

The GCCA and its members account for 80% of global cement production capacity outside of China, as well as some key Chinese manufacturers. Member companies have committed to reducing and ultimately eliminating CO2 emissions in concrete (which currently account for around 7% globally), through implementation of the GCCA’s Concrete Future 2050 Net Zero Roadmap – the first heavy industry to set out such a detailed plan.

The launch follows the success of last year’s first ever Innovandi Open Challenge, which saw cement companies partnering with six start-ups, with a strong focus on carbon capture and utilisation projects. Three of those projects have already gone to pilot stage.

Thomas Guillot, Chief Executive of the GCCA, said:

“We’re calling on the best and the brightest from around the world to join us in the urgent fight to limit global warming and help towards delivering the great prize of net zero concrete. If you are a start up from Austria to Australia, from Brazil to Bangladesh, with an innovative idea or technology, then we want to hear from you.”

“Concrete is the second most used substance on earth after water and is a vital part of our modern infrastructure. The GCCA and all our members are working hard to reduce emissions. And start-ups can play a big role in helping us to do that.”

Start-ups can find more information and apply to take part in the Innovandi Open Challenge by going to the GCCA Open Challenge webpage:

Those companies who are accepted for this year’s Innovandi Open Challenge, will gain unique access to industry plants, labs, key networks and the expertise and infrastructure of the GCCA’s 40 members from around the world. They will also receive guidance from the GCCA and its members to help them with the development of new technology and business cases.

Claude Loréa, GCCA Cement Director and Innovation Lead said:

“We’ve already seen some remarkable progress from those start-ups who’ve been working with our members on the first Innovandi Open Challenge, with several projects already in the pilot stage. This year’s theme, low carbon concrete, is equally challenging. To succeed, we need products which are affordable, scalable, and easily adopted. Good luck to all this year’s applicants. We look forward to working with those selected.”

Natalie Giglio is Senior Business Development Associate, at Carbon Upcycling Technologies in Canada, which took part in the first Innovandi Open Challenge. She encourages all start-ups interested in working on net-zero initiatives to apply:

"The Innovandi program is specifically designed to foster collaboration among the largest global cement producers, and start-ups, which is an opportunity unique to this challenge. Our initiative focused on validating materials at the lab scale, and now the results have set a foundation for further collaboration and project development.”

/ Ends

Notes to editors:

The Innovandi Open Challenge is open to applicants from 14th March 2023, with applications closing on 30th May 2023.

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Additional quotes from start-ups which have taken part in the 1st Innovandi Open Challenge:

Carbon BioCapture is based in the USA and has patented technology for CO2 capture using microalgae (microscopic algae invisible to the naked eye.) CEO Andrea Irarrazaval said: “It has been a great opportunity and an honour for Carbon BioCapture (CBC) to be selected in GCCA's Open Challenge global programme… Participation provides valuable means for tech start-ups to access, obtain growth assistance, and help to demonstrate their technology potential to the critical cement and concrete global industry."

CarbonOrO, based in the Netherlands, specializes in carbon capture technology using unique bi-phasic amine. Spokesperson Jan Hoppenbrouwers said: “There is a lot of talk about carbon capture, utilisation and storage but worldwide, we need to accelerate the number of pilots and move towards commercial scale roll-out. GCCA members and their consortia’s joined efforts have all the characteristics to change this. So, our advice, participate in this challenge.”

Coomtech based in the UK, has developed a low energy, low cost drying technology using managed turbulent air, creating kinetic energy to remove moisture. Founder Chris Every said: “Coomtech took part in the Innovandi Open Challenge to showcase its technology at a global level to the cement and concrete industry. Innovandi has been highly supportive and is commercially attuned to new technologies. The connections the program makes are an excellent springboard for emerging technology businesses focused on the vital cement and concrete sector.”

Fortera, based in the USA, uses technology to capture CO2 emissions from cement plants, combining it with calcium oxide to make reactive calcium carbonate. Vice President Kas Farsad, said: “The Innovandi Open Challenge platform allowed Fortera to engage multiple cement players simultaneously and really dig into not just industry pain points, but brainstorm on solutions with the broader industry in mind. Whether you're looking to launch a pilot plant or to validate a commercial offering, you'll get a committed consortium of GCCA members supporting your process."

MOF Technologies, based in the UK, is using modern sorbents called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to engineer a filtration system to capture and remove CO2 from flue gas. Conor Hamill, Co-CEO said: “Having developed a carbon capture system that overcomes the traditional adoption barriers of energy and cost, we are thrilled to have had the opportunity to collaborate with GCCA members to bring our technology to the field. We are currently working with an innovative consortium to pilot our ultra-efficient Nuada technology which will validate its potential to provide the industry with a scalable low-cost carbon capture solution.”

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Contact information

For case studies, further details, or interview requests, please contact:
Simon Thomson, Head of Media, GCCA

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