Shaping the Future of Plastics with Open Innovation

Published Jul-05-16

Breakthrough:
A concept for plastic furniture that can be easily repaired, recycled and remolded wins a global open innovation competition.

Company:
Perstorp, Sweden

The Story:

Shaping the Future of Plastics with Open Innovation To celebrate the 40th anniversary of its Capa™ caprolactone thermoplastic materials, specialty chemicals company Perstorp launched a global open innovation challenge. The purpose was to generate new ideas for how Capa Thermoplastic could address future challenges.

The Capa brand of thermoplastic materials are durable, strong, stiff, biodegradable, moldable at 60°C, and can be reheated and reshaped again and again.

Creative Uses

Participants had to think of a challenge that may come up in the next 40 years and solve it using the thermoplastics. With the planet's population set to rise to 10 billion 40 years from now (according to the UN), they were asked to contemplate a number of questions when formulating their ideas, including: "how can Capa Thermoplastic help to sustain an inhabitable planet Earth?"

The competition was open to individuals and teams, and submissions were judged by a panel that included external experts and representatives from Perstorp. Their adjudications were based on several criteria, including the degree of innovation involved and the role of the thermoplastic material.

A total of 337 participants from 62 countries took part with the jury selecting three finalists to pitch their ideas in person in a Dragon's Den-style presentation.

Winning Concept

The winner of the open innovation contest was a concept called Flexii from two brothers, Kashyap and Chintan Gohel, students at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Juja, Kenya.
Flexii is a flexible furniture concept with pieces being made out of Capa to increase versatility in design.

What marks out the idea is that the furniture can be easily repaired and remodeled and fashioned into new forms and designs. The brothers also suggested that Capa could be combined with other materials such as broken glass and recycled timber to improve their properties.

Of the winning idea Jesper Fahlén, global Product Manager Capa, said: "It’s a creative idea with strong potential. What we have seen in terms of design so far is really appealing and prototyping is already ongoing. This is a new and explorative area for Capa."

For their creative efforts the brothers received a cash prize of 40.000 SEK, (approx. $4,700 USD), a visit to the K 2016 international plastics and rubber exhibition in Dusseldorf and a year's worth of mentorship from Perstorp Vice President Innovation Håkan Björnberg.

Future Plans

In the near future, the two winners plan to blend different materials with Capa to create furniture and art. They also want to start a business that remodels furniture in East Africa. "Eventually we want to have Flexii remolding centers integrated into every city, and give people the chance to design their own furniture and have it 3D printed or crafted with Capa Thermoplastic, on its own or in combination with other materials."

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