CLEVELAND, OH – March 19, 2013NineSigma, Inc., the leading innovation partner to organizations worldwide, today announced three winners of the Scientists Without Borders, Sackler Institute for Nutrition Sciences at the New York Academy of Sciences, and Sight and Life open innovation challenge seeking More Sustainable and Effective Approaches for Delivering Micronutrient Powders (MNPs). NineSigma partnered with these organizations to administer the challenge and disseminate to their worldwide network of solvers.

With some 2 billion people worldwide suffering from “hidden hunger” (deficiency of essential micronutrients, such as Vitamin A, B-vitamins, zinc, and iron), even where sufficient caloric intake might exist, MNPs are a critical tool in tackling global malnutrition among children under age 5, in low-resource settings and refugee camps. Governments and humanitarian organizations, including UNICEF and the World Food Programme, distribute nearly 200 million MNP packets annually. However, the current foil sachets in which the powders are currently packaged cannot be recycled, re-purposed, burned, or composted, creating large amounts of collateral waste. This challenge therefore sought innovative ideas for more sustainable and effective approaches to delivering these critical supplements.

Winners were selected from 36 submissions generated from 15 countries over 90 days, with one-third of the submissions offered by solvers in the developing world. The winners, to share in the $25,000 prize, are:

  • First Place (Receiving $12,500): Jose Tarquino of Valley Stream, NY, for “New Double Sack (DS) Economical Packaging for ‘Essential Powdered Nutrition Supplements’,”
  • Second Place (Receiving $9,000): Ilya Mir of Sacramento, CA, for “Repurposing Existing Condiment Packaging,”
  • Third Place (Receiving $3,500): Mehrdad Keshmiri of Port Moody, Canada, for “Use of Chitosan setting solution for sustainable and effective packaging for essential powdered nutrient supplements to combat malnutrition.” 

First place winner, Jose Tarquino notes, “The challenge immediately grabbed my attention as it posed both human and technical problems: helping disadvantaged people while improving an existing technology that impacts the environment. Given my experience in chemical engineering, biotechnology, food packaging and new, green, raw materials, I knew I had the ability to develop a sound proposal.”

Andy Zynga, CEO of NineSigma said, “Our most gratifying accomplishments are those where we leverage Open Innovation to facilitate solutions that enhance health, well-being and quality of life. We are proud to have been selected to partner on this Sustainable Packaging challenge and it feels great to know the benefit it will provide to people suffering from malnutrition, as well as to the global environment.”

The winners were chosen by an independent expert selection panel organized by Scientists Without Borders and its partners, and it included Saskia De Pee of the Word Food Programme; Joel Gittelsohn, Professor in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; Nina Goodrich of GreenBlue and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition; Lynnette Neufeld of the Micronutrient Initiative; and Arnold Timmer of UNICEF.

“Scientists without Borders is committed to utilizing innovative approaches to identify and accelerate solutions to urgent global development challenges such as malnutrition. We, and our partners, were delighted to join forces with NineSigma to issue this challenge to their worldwide network of solvers in keeping with our mission to connect as many passionate and creative minds as possible with the expertise and resources of our network and platform to achieve impact,” said Shaifali Puri, Executive Director of Scientists Without Borders.

In keeping with the partners' commitment to open dissemination, and in order to encourage further uptake and innovation stemming from the ideas, the full solutions are available on Scientists Without Borders’s open platform. To see the winning solutions, please visit

About Scientists Without Borders

Scientists Without Borders, a public/private partnership led by the New York Academy of Sciences, is a web-based collaborative community that generates and advances innovative and effective science and technology-based solutions to the world's most pressing global development challenges. Scientists Without Borders's unique model leverages a free online platform to connect a worldwide group of cross-disciplinary, multi-sector users to develop and openly share concrete and effective solutions to these challenges. To learn more about Scientists Without Borders, visit

About the Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences, in partnership with The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation, Inc., established The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science to create a coordinated effort to support and disseminate nutrition science research. The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science is dedicated to advancing nutrition science research and knowledge, mobilizing communities, and translating this work into the field. The Institute is generating a coordinated network across sectors, disciplines, and geographies that promotes open communication; encourages exchange of information and resources; nurtures the next generation of scientists; and affects community intervention design and public policy changes. Visit us online at

About Sight and Life

Sight and Life is the humanitarian nutrition think tank of DSM. Sight and Life promotes nutrition research, shares best practices and mobilizes support for the world's undernourished. We believe that the right mix of funding, knowledge, technology and policy will lead to better health. We work through advocacy and leadership to address societal changes affecting dietary quality. We act responsibly to disseminate information that reflects current knowledge and evolving scientific evidence. We also aim to promote partnerships that are able to solve outstanding problems. For further information please visit