DowDuPont Materials Science (Dow) and WE, a global development charity and youth empowerment movement, have rolled out the We Are Innovators campaign to challenge educators and students to harness chemistry and science to create solutions for pressing global issues.
The campaign will provide students and educators in the US and across the world with access to tools and hands-on experiences that will enable them to explore global challenges and design potential sustainable solutions using science and chemistry. Elements of the campaign include education modules focused on food, water, energy, housing and recycling; support for global service learning trips; and innovation grants to help finance science programming in schools.
“The people of Dow, for more than 120 years, have harnessed science and chemistry to solve global challenges and enhance the lives of everyone, everywhere,” said Andrew Liveris, Executive Chairman of DowDuPont. “Our partnership with WE invites students — the scientists, chemists and manufacturers of tomorrow — to explore how science and chemistry unlock solutions to the world’s increasingly complex challenges.”
The reach of the campaign will draw on Dow’s innovation engine and expertise combined with WE’s family of organizations that provide young people and families around the world with the tools and resources to create change through everyday actions. Through a movement of more than 3.4 million people supporting more than 2,500 local and global causes, WE has raised $79 million, volunteered 27.6 million hours and collected over 9.8 million pounds of food. Since 1995, WE has provided more than one million people with clean water and built 1,000 schools and schoolrooms overseas, giving more than 200,000 children access to education.
“As a leading science and technology company focused on solutions that are essential to human progress, we are truly honored to partner with Dow in harnessing the power of chemistry to inspire students to innovate for a more sustainable future,” said Craig Kielburger, Co-Founder of WE. “Through We Are Innovators, young people will have the knowledge and tools to spark innovative ideas that bring positive change in the world and drive economic growth.”
As part of the campaign, Dow and WE are launching the Innovators Today Challenge on January 1, 2018. Open to youth from Grade 6 and up, the challenge invites students to share their innovative solutions for the module they are most passionate about for a chance to win $5,000 to bring their ideas to life. Applications will be accepted until April 2, 2018, with winners announced on May 15.
Aligned to Dow’s 2025 Sustainability Goals, We Are Innovators modules will highlight important concepts such as the role of sustainable chemistry and advancing a circular economy. The campaign will engage educators, inspire students and leverage Dow STEM Ambassadors and employee volunteers through community and world-changing service learning and actionable solutions in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals .
“The major global challenges are complex in nature and will be difficult to solve,” said Claus Crone Fuglsang, SVP and 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.”
The open innovation initiative defines different themes for collaboration, the first of which is ‘water’ and includes five specific challenges.
One challenge is to develop an E. coli device, for which UNICEF has identified a significant need. Nearly 18,000 children die each year from water-related illnesses contracted 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.
“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,” said 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.”
Anyone with an interest in water can share their suggestions at HelloScience.io. 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.
Each 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 challenge belongs to the idea provider.