- Start-ups invited to pitch solutions for industry challenges
- Focus on areas requiring high levels of technological support and investment, including carbon capture and concrete recycling
- Winners will enter a 12-month program with access to expertise and investment
- Challenge is part of the GCCA’s worldwide mission to provide carbon-neutral concrete by 2050 in line with global climate targets
With the massive goal of having cement production to a net-zero level by 2050, the work that needs to happen in these short 30 years will likely be an undertaking of effort that few industries have dared to approach. It's been said time and time again that the carbon dioxide produced by the cement and concrete construction industry would be the equivalent of the third-largest country in the world, getting us there will require new innovations, clever ideas, and concrete solutions (pun intended).
As such, in hopes to "accelerate the development of innovative new low-carbon technologies," the UK-based Global Cement & Concrete Association (GCCA) officially launched a program called Open Challenge "to bring together tech start-ups and the cement and concrete industry."
The May 17 announcement describes the association's "Open Challenge":
The Open Challenge invites start-ups to pitch solutions to key challenges for the industry that require advanced technology, support, and investment and which will have a significant impact on the climate footprint of cement and concrete. The challenge areas include carbon capture technologies, calcination technologies - for heating materials during the concrete manufacturing process -, carbon use in the construction supply chain and improved recycling of concrete.
Selected start-ups will have potential to access to a global cement and concrete market worth $333 billion, and a global construction market that is projected to grow to $15.5 trillion worldwide by 2030. GCCA member companies may also consider offering direct investment in select start-ups, though there is no investment requirement for participation in the challenge.
While the number of selections will depend on submissions, they will generally be focused on two main categories. These categories are carbon capture technology and new calcination technologies, and carbon use along the construction value chain and enhanced construction materials recycling. Selected startups will be announced in September.
The Open Challenge program is being conducted by Innovandi, an innovation program of the GCCA which also heads up the association's Research Network.
“Concrete is the most widely used, material on the planet, after water. Our members have committed to drive down the CO2 footprint of the industry’s operations and products, and to deliver on our ambition of carbon-neutral concrete by 2050," says Dinah McLeod, GCCA Chief Executive. "However, this ambitious goal will require significant and complex changes in how we manufacture, use and recycle concrete. Innovation will be crucial at every stage, from new cement and concrete chemistries to kiln technologies, clinker production, and carbon capture. This Open Challenge will help ensure we are bringing the creativity of the best minds from outside the industry to tackle the climate emergency.”
"We are calling on start-ups, researchers and innovators from around the world to work with us to address the most challenging areas in decarbonizing concrete and cement," adds Claude Loréa, GCCA Cement Director and innovation lead . "With the help of Techstars (a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs), we’re looking forward to matching outside innovation with industry expertise, which we hope can accelerate the sustainable transformation of the industry. From carbon capture and storage pilots to using CO2 to produce new construction materials, this is a chance to be at the forefront of these innovations which will help the industry to build on its achievement of reducing CO2 emissions by 19% per tonne over the last 30 years.”
Launched in January 2018 and headquartered in London, England, the GCCA is dedicated to developing and strengthening the sector’s contribution to sustainable construction. They aim to foster innovation throughout the construction value chain in collaboration with industry associations as well as architects, engineers, and innovators. In this way, the association demonstrates how concrete solutions can meet global construction challenges and sustainable development goals while showcasing responsible industrial leadership in the manufacture and use of cement and concrete.