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NCGA ‘Consider Corn Challenge’ looking for next big corn idea


The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), along with innovation facilitator NineSigma, have launched the global competition ‘Consider Corn Challenge’ to untap corn’s full potential.  The competition is looking for next big innovative uses for field corn as a renewable feedstock for making sustainable chemicals with significant market demand.

“Corn has a history of being an abundant, cost-effective, and sustainable feedstock for chemicals used in thousands of products. This challenge is geared to inspire new concepts, approaches, and technologies that will help drive innovation,” said Larry Hoffmann, a farmer from Wheatland, North Dakota and chairman of NCGA’s Corn Productivity and Quality Action Team. “In addition to researchers who have increased the spectrum of renewable chemicals from corn to date, we are reaching out to the global innovation community that is largely untapped regarding new product frontiers for corn.”

United States corn production has increased from 105.5 million metric tons in 1970 to 345.5 million metric tons in 2015. NCGA is inviting innovators around the world from industry, academia, and other research institutions to consider new ways to utilize corn and maximize its contributions to the economy.

Up to six winning proposals will be selected and winners will each receive US$25,000. Winners will be announced in February 2018. NCGA may also explore funding or other support of an entry for further development and/or commercialization, even if the entry is not a prize winner.

“Many industries are adopting an open innovation approach because of its success in accelerating access to new solutions and innovation partners. In working with NineSigma we are leveraging their established expertise in open innovation and global database of solution providers to help find the next big thing for corn,” said Hoffmann.

The National Corn Growers Association’s strategic plan includes a goal to establish three new uses that each utilize 25 million bushels or more by 2020. The concept of open innovation provides a path to add value to corn and problem solve creatively and rapidly.

Responses to the Consider Corn Challenge are due by September 28, 2017 at 5:00 PM US EDT. Solution providers can submit proposals through NineSigma’s Open Innovation community.

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