100 startups apply to work with essential global industry on achieving net zero

Nearly 100 tech startups from around the world have applied for a pioneering international programme aimed at decarbonising the world's most widely used man-made materials.

The Innovandi Open Challenge, organised by the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), offers startups the opportunity to collaborate with leading cement and concrete manufacturers. This collaboration is part of the industry's commitment to achieving net zero emissions.

The focus of this year’s challenge is on developing carbon capture, use, and storage technologies. These technologies are crucial to the industry’s net zero roadmap and are expected to contribute approximately 36% to the planned CO2 emission reductions in the cement industry by 2050.

Thomas Guillot, the GCCA’s Chief Executive said: “There are already more than 100 CCUS cement industry pilots, projects and announcements in the pipeline across the world – with the world’s first commercial scale carbon capture and storage plant set to complete later this year. Innovation will help our industry to deploy this technology further and faster.”

Applications for this year’s challenge were encouraged from startups focusing on the use of innovative technologies, including process integrated and end-of-pipe CO2 capture and use, as well as storage by mineralisation, which all help prevent the carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere.

Claude Loréa, the GCCA’s Cement, Innovation and ESG Director, said: “It’s really encouraging to see nearly 100 applications for our Innovandi Open Challenge and from all parts of the world. As well as the US, UK and India, we’ve received applications from China, Greece and Australia for the first time. It demonstrates the high level of interest in working with our industry to make cement and concrete net zero. We’re looking forward to assessing all the applications, in detail.”

92 applications were submitted successfully before this week’s closing deadline. The GCCA, together with more than fifty experts from its member companies, will now consider all the applications and draw up a shortlist of the most promising and deployable technologies.

Shortlisted startups will be invited to pitch their projects, with those successful gaining unique access to industry plants, labs, key networks and the expertise and infrastructure of the GCCA’s 40 members from around the world. They will also receive guidance from the GCCA and its members to help them with the development of new technology and business strategies.

This is the 3rd Innovandi Open Challenge and builds on the success of previous years. The first challenge, in 2022, also focused on the development of carbon capture technology, with six separate consortia established and two startup technologies having already gone to pilot stage. The 15 startups shortlisted in last year’s second Innovandi Challenge, to work on the development of low-carbon concrete, are currently negotiating partnerships with manufacturers.