GCCA launches Innovandi Open Challenge 2024 in pursuit of net zero

A pioneering international programme, which brings together tech start-ups and leading cement manufacturers in the pursuit of net zero, has launched.
Quarry Products / February 22, 2024
By Guy Woodford
Innovandi Open Challenge 2024 is run by the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA). Pic: GCCA

Innovandi Open Challenge 2024 is run by the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), the industry's leading international body, which is focused on helping the global cement industry reduce its emissions and ultimately achieve net zero concrete. 


Applications are being encouraged from start-ups from around the world interested in working on developing carbon capture use and storage for low-carbon cement and concrete. Innovative technologies are sought, which include process integrated and end-of-pipe CO2 capture and use, and help prevent carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere.

Developing new technologies is a key part of the cement industry's roadmap to net zero. Pic: Heidelberg Materials


This will be the 3rd Innovandi Open Challenge and builds on previous years' success. The first challenge, in 2022, also focused on developing carbon capture technology, and two start-ups have already gone to the pilot stage. The 15 start-ups shortlisted in last year's 2nd Innovandi Challenge to work on developing low-carbon concrete are currently discussing forming partnerships with manufacturers.


Claude Loréa, the GCCA's cement, innovation and ESG director, said: "Our industry is committed to achieving net zero, and the development of carbon capture technology is a key part of that work. Our world-leading Innovandi Open Challenge programme has already seen remarkable progress in just two years, with start-ups and our member companies working together. We're looking forward to seeing what this year's applicants can bring to build on the extensive work that is already underway across the world."


All GCCA members, who account for 80% of global cement production capacity outside of China, and a number of leading Chinese manufacturers have committed to reaching net zero by 2050 through the GCCA's Concrete Future 2050 Net Zero Roadmap – the first global industry to set out such a detailed plan. The GCCA has also recently signed a ground-breaking agreement to collaborate on decarbonisation with the China Cement Association (CCA).


Developing new technologies is a key part of the cement industry's roadmap to net zero, and carbon capture and storage technology is expected to account for around 36% of total emission reductions by 2050. 


The industry's first industrial-scale cement plant equipped with CO2 capture technology is scheduled to be mechanically completed at the Heidelberg Materials site in Brevik, Norway, by the end of 2024, with several more plants expected to open by 2030.  

GCCA CEO Thomas Guillot is encouraging entries to the Innovandi Open Challenge 2024. Pic: GCCA


Thomas Guillot, chief executive of the GCCA, said: "We already know CCUS technology works, with pilots and projects underway across the world, but it's crucial to see what other innovations are out there, beyond our industry, that could help accelerate our net zero mission.


"We encourage applications from start-ups around the globe to join us in the urgent fight to limit global warming. If you are a start-up from Austria to Australia, from Brazil to Bangladesh, with an innovative idea or technology to further develop CCUS, then you should be applying."


Jonathan Cool, CEO of Ultra High Materials, a start-up which participated in last year's Open Challenge, encouraged others to apply: "The support, guidance, exposure to the GCCA membership and the facilitation of collaborative opportunities with GCCA members has been effective, efficient and it's made a beneficial impact for all of us. Given the option to do it all again, we certainly would."

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