All submissions will be judged according to 3 categories:
- Feasibility (technical and commercial)
- Scalability (manufacturing and team)
All categories are of equal importance to judge the submissions.
The technical feasibility is judged by a team of technical experts that assess the technical readiness, often referred to as TRL (Technical Readiness Level).
In Category 1, Recycling Technology, We’re looking for inventive and original ideas that improve the mechanical or chemical recycling process and support the production of low carbon footprint materials
(thermoplastic polymers) that have a high recyclable content. The team will look into the following questions:
- Does your technology improve the efficiency of mechanical recycling (collecting, identification, sorting, cleaning, grinding, regranulation, etc.) or is it a novel chemical recycling methodology?
- Can your recycling technology or service demonstrate a positive impact on the recycling process for waste or scrap thermoplastic polymers and end of- life products, for example increased speed, improved quality or reduced cost?
- Are you able to test materials provided by Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials?
In Category 2, Products and Parts, we are looking for innovative students, product designers, start-ups, scaleups and established businesses who want to work within the Circular Economy and want to design, develop or manufacture products or parts with low carbon footprint engineering plastics. Some key questions:
- Is your combination of design/material/manufacturing methodology fit-for-purpose?
- Do you have the flexibility and capability to adapt the product specifications to advanced thermoplastic materials with a low carbon footprint?
- Do you intend to develop, sell or produce products or parts manufactured from thermoplastic polymers via either CNC machining, injection moulding or 3D Printing (FFF ), and who want to reduce the carbon footprint of these products or parts.
- Do you have a solution or need a partner to support you in recycling the thermoplastic polymer waste from production (such as cut-offs, swarfs, runners, etc.) or, after collection, recycling the products at their end-of-life.
Owning the intellectual property of your solution is an advantage or as a minimum having done the check that you are not infringing anybody’s patent. Your work nor its use should infringe the intellectual property rights of any person. MCAM nor its partners will claim any Intellectual property rights over the content that you submit and your submission does not constitute invention assignment.
The commercial feasibility very much depends on your business model.
Often the commercial feasibility is directly linked to the uniqueness or differentiation potential or the Value Proposition and although very important, we take a more holistic approach and look into the entire business model. Transactional ,service and circular business models are all welcomed in this Engineering Challenge.
To check the level of differentiation potential and get reflection on your brand positioning, we advise to read the book ‘Find your Zag’ by Marty Neumeier (https://www.martyneumeier.com/), which is easy digestible and includes some practical guidance. To ensure that you covered all elements to build your business model, we advise to look at the Business Model Canvas by Alex Osterwalder (https://www.alexosterwalder.com/).
A great way to check the commercial feasibility (in an early stage of development) is to create a MVP. This is a Minimum Viable Product, let’s say 60-80% ready that you’re are going to test with a small audience to get early feedback. This first step is followed by multiple iteration loops. Typically, the final product (based on customer feedback) is not what you envisioned at the start of your journey. We recommend to read ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries (https://leanstartup.co/team/eric-ries/) to get more insights in this approach.
Teams that can show customer testing or have entered in commercial sales (of beta-versions or beyond) are favoured.
Other elements that will be considered are how radical your solutions is (incremental change, redesign or new to the world), the type of industry (existing or new) and the global reach.
We assess 2 important factors to determine readiness of scalability.
In Category 1, Recycling Technology, we will check if you are able to run your technology on lab, pilot or industrial scale and to what extend we can scale and implement your service or technology in our business.
In Category 2, products and Parts, we will assess the production methodology. What if you are successful and the numbers of products increases? Are there cost effective production methodologies that could facilitate that growth, meanwhile respecting the integrity of your product and ensuring that you can still offer your business model? Are you able to collect the parts back from your customer end-of-life (only applicable in case of a circular business model).
Besides the production technology, we are very much interested in the team behind your submission. Do you have the right team, the right competence and partners onboard to execute within a certain timeframe? This typically increases with the maturity of your company, from single entrepreneur to start-up to scale-up and beyond.
Not having all competences in place yet is not a knock-out criteria, because you will get access to our ecosystem and partners that will support you (incl. funding). Having the passion and drive to take it all-the-way is absolutely key.
Sustainability is a large playing field and is considered as one of the main judging criteria. This may include solutions that are good for the well-being of our society (for example prosthetics), reduce waste, design for recycle, reduce energy during production, improve fuel efficiency by light-weighting or friction reduction, extend the lifetime of a product or promote the circular economy.
Are you able to quantify the impact of your technology/service or product? For example:
- Our recycling technology improves the separation of thermoplastic engineering plastics by x%, increase the recycling speed by x% and therefore reduces overall costs by x%.
- Our part is produced from a thermoplastic advanced material that shows a reduced carbon footprint of x% and x% of the parts will be taken back end-of-life for recycling purposes.
We strongly believe in giving more back than we take. Solutions that take these elements into account are typically ranked as being more future-proof with higher chance of long term success in the market.
A quantification of the reduction of the carbon footprint and CO2 emission savings (vs the incumbent solution in the market) can be a strong selling argument.
Our experts in the field of Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) are part of our jury expert panel and are part of our ecosystem, which will become available to you when joining a Challenge as an early bird or a finalist/winner.