Consider Corn Challenge III – Winners

NineSigma is very proud to  have partnered up with National Corn Growers Association for this challenge over the last few years.

Since 2017, NineSigma on behalf of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), invited proposals for new uses of field corn as a feedstock for producing sustainable chemicals which have market demand. It is known that U.S. corn represents a sustainably produced, economically competitive, and extremely flexible feedstock for bioproducts.
For that reason, over the past 5 years three prize challenges were launched. The purpose of the “Consider Corn Challenge” was to invite innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and academics to find new uses for field corn by exploring how field corn can be used as a feedstock for making sustainable chemicals and accelerating society’s shift to a thriving bio-based community.

For the last challenge the winners have been revealed and six winners won a prize of $150,000, split equally between winners:

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado
  • BioAstra Technologies from Quebec, Canada.
  • Catalyxx of Chesterfield, Missouri.
  • Danimer Scientific based in Brainbridge, Georgia.
  • Låkril Technologies out of the University of Minnesota.
  • Sylvatex from San Francisco, California.

More about the challenges

The first challenge “Consider Corn Challenge I“ was launched in 2017. This challenge was about finding new uses for field corn, the type of corn grown to feed animals and create a variety of products. Six winners from the U.S were announced they shared a total prize of US$150,000 in the form of up to 6 prizes of US$25,000 each. NCGA winners focused on developing biosourced materials from corn such as malonic acid, furandicarboxylic acid, monoethylene glycol, aromatic chemicals (benzene, toluene, xylene), and unsaturated polyester resins. These chemicals offer great potential as starting materials for bio based plastics, coolants, adhesives, etc. used in a wide variety of products.”.

Followed the next year by the second challenge “Consider Corn Challenge II“, which was launched in 2018. This challenge aimed at finding new uses of field corn as a feedstock for producing sustainable chemicals with quantifiable market demand. The total prize pool for the contest was U.S. $150,000. Each of the three winners received $50,000. NCGA winners focused on improving existing products in the marketplace for healthcare, personal care, food, pharmaceutical, and energy industries. From polysaccharide-based hydrocolloids made from microbial fermentation of corn sugar to novel monomers incorporated into polyamides and polyesters to make specialty nylons and corn starch-based emulsifiers, polymer films, and coatings, the winners’ technologies represent the next generation of corn-based renewable materials.

As for the winners of the third challenge “Consider Corn Challenge III“, which was launched in early 2021 are finally revealed. Consider Corn Challenge III sought game-changing new uses for field corn, leading to products with significant market demand (without detracting from an existing corn market).On October 28th, we were happy to announce the winners for the last challenge.

More about the winners’ submissions

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):

  • What: Acrylonitrile to Carbon Fiber
  • Uses: Lightweight replacement for steel and aluminum in products like vehicles

BioAstra Technologies:

  • What: Smart and recyclable formulations based on cellulose and PLA.
  • Uses: Plastic bags, surgical masks, and Phase-Change Materials.


  • What: Bio n-butanol and other longer chain linear alcohols from ethanol
  • Uses: n-Butanol is used to make other chemicals (butyl acetate and butyl acrylates), valuable as a solvent or as an ingredient in formulated products such as cosmetics. The C4+ alcohol mix can be used for diesel and marine fuels.

Danimer Scientific:

  • What: PHA from corn oil
  • Uses: Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biodegradable, biobased polymers that can be used for plastics

Låkril Technologies:

  • What: Bio-acrylic acid made from lactic acid
  • Uses: Bio-acrylic acid can be used for bio-polyacrylic acid (PAA) as super absorbers in hygiene products & diapers and for bio-acrylate polymers in paints and industrial coatings systems.

Sylvatex (SVX):

  • What: Sustainable solutions made from biomass-derived oxygenates and free fatty acids useful as alternative diesel fuel or specialty chemicals for the production of cathodes used in lithium-ion batteries.
  • Uses: Off-road diesel, cathodes for battery production

We are happy to have worked on this project in collaboration with NCGA association ,which led solution providers to participate and share their solutions with us.


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