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Business

Evonik crowdsources students for new ideas

Web-based search targets the millennials and also serves as a job recruiting tool

by Marc S. Reisch
September 26, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 38

Evonik Industries’ North American unit has launched a competition, using the college student crowdsourcing website MindSumo, to gather ideas on friction-reduction techniques for its lubricant additives business.

Companies use crowdsourcing sites such as Innocentive and NineSigma to tap experts outside their usual channels. MindSumo specifically targets undergraduate and graduate students for ideas that a firm can leverage and further refine. Other MindSumo users include Microsoft, Avon, and John Deere.

A MindSumo challenge is a way of “tapping into the millennial generation,” says Sanjay Gupta, Evonik’s regional head of corporate innovation. The competition, which runs through Oct. 12, will also help Evonik recruit job candidates, Gupta adds.

According to MindSumo, each challenge costs $10,000, remains open for four weeks, and generates up to 150 unique concepts. Students receive points based on their idea’s relevance, creativity, and feasibility. Modest cash awards are paid out to a student’s PayPal account.

Evonik has used crowdsourcing before, Gupta says. For a number of years it has run its own program targeting college professors. Over the last 18 months, it has posted three challenges on MindSumo garnering between 30 and 80 submissions apiece.

“We have seen thought-provoking ideas for wrinkle-free clothing using our shape-memory polymers, a novel application for dry soap from our ‘dry water’ challenge, and a number of interesting ideas for the prevention of opioid abuse using our Eudragit [excipient] polymers,” Gupta tells C&EN.

Conditions posted with the Evonik challenge specify that “any and all rights of ownership” transfer to the firm.

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