Success Stories

With clients in every industry and technology sector, NineSigma successfully connects companies with the global innovation community. NineSigma has enabled clients to leverage our open innovation network of external resources to solve immediate challenges, fill product pipelines and integrate new knowledge and capabilities into their organizations. Since its inception, NineSigma has worked with nearly 800 companies in virtually every industry from aerospace to consumer products, to healthcare, to chemicals and materials, to food and beverage, to automotive, to mining, to energy . The following Case Studies illustrate some of our successes.

Case1: PepsiCo

Nanoparticle Halide Salt: Formulation and Delivery

Nanoparticle Halide Salt: Formulation and Delivery

The Challenge:

With the increased focus on health and nutrition, consumers are demanding better ingredients in their food products without sacrificing taste and satisfaction. In order to meet customer needs, PepsiCo was looking for ways to reduce sodium content in their Frito-Lay brand of chips without losing their salty flavor. PepsiCo was seeking new formulation technologies for creating nano and micro-sized particles, suspending for transportation, and application and drying techniques for halide salts.

Our Approach:

A number of interesting potential collaboration partners were uncovered using a global RFP broadcast search strategy targeting relevant material scientists, chemical engineers, chemists and organizations with novel techniques, capabilities and experience in nanocrystallization. Among the responses received were two US companies and one European university with very interesting approaches. By working with one of these organizations, PepsiCo was able to identify a new approach for the continuous production of halid nanoparticles and combine that with a spin-out commercial partner that could dip/coat surfaces.

The Impact:

PepsiCo and the solution provider signed a multi-year research and development agreement. They were able to create a "crystal salt" by reducing crystal size based on an increase in the surface area, which significantly reduces sodium levels while still retaining a salty punch. The integration of the new salt formulation into Pepsi's snack food products has been developed and is available in the market.

"There are a lot of productive connections out there waiting to happen.  What turned out to be a great connection for PepsiCo could have never been predicted." -Carlos J. Barroso, R& Executive, PepsiCo (former)

Case2: IAVI

Protein Stabilization for an Effective AIDS Vaccine

Protein Stabilization for an Effective AIDS Vaccine

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is a global not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. They work with partners in 25 countries to research, design, and develop vaccine candidates through targeted investments in the design and development of new tools for prevention. IAVI is funded by the Gates Foundation and charitable contributions and have focused on AIDS vaccine development for over 10 years.

NineSigma donated its technology search services to help IAVI advance HIV vaccine research by indentifying new approaches to the design of a potential vaccine. 

Societal Impact

The creation of an effective vaccine is the most economical and practical way to eliminate AIDS. NineSigma collaborated with IAVI to help advance HIV vaccine research by identifying new approaches to the design of a potential vaccine.

"Open innovation offers a new way to address and, we hope, solve problems impeding the development of effective HIV vaccines." - Andy Zynga, CEO, NineSigma

Challenge

In order to have an effective HIV vaccine, the vaccine must elicit antibodies that would neutralize the virus. The HIV Envelope protein (Env) is the only target for neutralizing antibodies and this protein is highly unstable. In an HIV infection, functional Env trimer is almost always expressed in the presence of other non-functional forms, which distracts the antibody response from the important target. Vaccine designers had not been able to engineer a stable, functional Env trimer needed to develop an effective vaccine.

Results

Working closely with IAVI scientists, NineSigma recommended, drafted and disseminated a Request for Proposal (RFP), titled "Engineering Stable Proteins." This RFP allowed NineSigma to reach out to a worldwide network of distinguished protein scientists that were previously unrelated to HIV research. As a result, more than 30 proposals were submitted from highly qualified scientists from over 14 difference countries.

Multiple Winners

NineSigma connected IAVI with some of the world's leading biomedical researchers, and helped it identify two scientists who received a total of $875,000 to adapt their technologies for generating stable protein complexes for use in AIDS vaccines. Those selected for funding or further collaboration include Dr. Rogier Sanders, Academic Medical Center, Medical Microbiology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Dr. Ralf Wagner, University of Regensburg Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Regensburg, Germany.

"We are confident that the researchers [NineSigma] helped identify have much to contribute to the development of an effective AIDS vaccine." - Wayne Koff, Chief Scientific Officer, IAVI

Case3: Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TEPCO)

Radical Innovation for Painting Power Transmission Towers

Radical Innovation for Painting Power Transmission Towers

Background of the Project

TEPCO has the responsibility of maintaining and repainting their approximately 1000 Transmission Towers.

Because of there is no established method other than carrying out all this work manually, this is extremely time, cost and labor intensive. In addition, there are only a limited number of appropriately skilled workers able to operate in such high places and their numbers are decreasing due to an aging population and declining birth rates. Therefore, TEPCO needs to find a more efficient and innovative way forward; either fully-automated or even half-automated to save on labor costs.

Finding the best technology matches.

There exists too few repair and maintenance organizations with Transmission Towers experience. For this reason, we sought out and investigated various start-up companies and universities, that develop or have competencies to help develop robotic inspection and maintenace for large scale infrastructure components, such as bridges and buildings. We researched and approached very capable and enthusiastic organizations as potential suitable partners. Disclosing, the seeker’s name (TEPCO) from day one, illustrated the importance and high commitment to this project.

Achievement

Achievement

TEPCO successfully entered into two development project agreements: 1) as a joint research project with Professor Liu (University of Technology Sydney, Center for Autonomous Systems), who suggested a plan to develop robots that would climb Transmission Towers by themselves and do the maintenance instead of humans; 2) a sponsored research and development project with Professor Ma, (Ritsumeikan University, Biomimetic Intelligent Mechatronics), who proposed a plan to develop robots that would be carried manually to certain points after which they would continue to do the painting and maintenance work on the tower. The University of Technology Sydney who developed and commercialized repainting paint maintenance robots for Sydney Harbour Bridge while Ritsumeikan University who developed the “Snake Robot” and “Trunk Robot” were two other Solution Providersidentified through NineSigma’s“technology matching service”

TEPCO is now well on their way to solve their agenda with two new partners from Japan and Sydney.

Industrial Cases

3-Dimensional Sensor Localization System

The US Army's Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center was seeking various technologies for the development of a 3-dimensional sensor localization system in order to track movement of personnel.

Client: US Army's Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC)
Project Title: 3-Dimensional Sensor Localization System

The Challenge:

The US Army's Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC) was seeking various technologies for the development of a 3-dimensional sensor localization system.  This system would be utilized for narrowband, low-power, ad-hoc networked sensors in multilevel structures in order to track the movement of personnel.

Our Approach:

ARDEC engaged NineSigma on this project and also ran a simultaneous solicitation through the FedBizOps system.  The request ran by NineSigma received more than thirty proposals, while the FedBizOps initiative only resulted in one response within the same timeframe.

The Impact:

NineSigma was able to generate potential partners and technologies, 50 percent of which were from organizations previously unknown to ARDEC, and which dramatically increased access to a variety of technologies.

Entrapping Gases for Agricultural Formulations

A leading global agribusiness firm sought technologies that would efficiently entrap a gas in a chemically and physically stable state that could then be further processed into a liquid or solid formulation.

Client: Global Agribusiness Firm
Project Title: Entrapping Gases for Agricultural Formulations

The Challenge:

Gaseous agricultural products are typically delivered to crops by fumigation, or are injected underground.  The application of agricultural products through aqueous sprays is more user-friendly, cost-effective, and less prone to variability.  A leading Global Agribusiness Firm sought technologies that would efficiently entrap a gas in a chemically and physically stable state that could then be further processed into a liquid or solid formulation.

Our Approach:

NineSigma collaborated with the Client to define the technical and business criteria for the desired solution without identifying the specific gas of interest, and initiated a global search for solution providers through its network.  Proposals were received from potential providers with broad experience in gas entrapment, including several that had already worked with the gas of interest.

The Impact:

The Client engaged solution providers to conduct proof of concept and development work to achieve its goals for the gas product.

Optimizing Tools for Automotive Body Assembly

A multinational automotive corporation wanted to establish a new process and methodology to optimize automotive body assembly and sought NineSigma's help in finding new potential solution providers.

Client: Multinational Automotive Corporation
Project Title: Optimizing Tools for Automotive Body Assembly

The Challenge:

Current automotive body design and process engineering often involves a "generate and test" approach using CAD models of the components and assumptions.  This approach results in unavoidable variations in stamping dimensions and tooling capability which hinder the assembly process.  This current method requires expert intervention throughout the assembly process in order to establish acceptable levels of variation.  A Multinational Automotive Corporation wanted to establish a new process and methodology to optimize automotive body assembly and sought NineSigma's help in finding new potential solution providers.

Our Approach:

NineSigma and the Client collaborated to define characteristics of viable solution.  NineSigma launched invitations to the global science and engineering community and received proposals from industry and academic organizations from North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

The Impact:

Client engaged an independent consultant in a one year contract.

Thermal Management and Waste Heat Recovery Technology for Automotive Powertrains

A multinational automotive corporation wanted to increase powertrain efficiency by improving the utilization of heat generated by the internal combustion engine.

Client: Multinational Automotive Corporation
Project Title: Thermal Management and Waste Heat Recovery Technology for Automotive Powertrains

The Challenge:

A Multinational Automotive Corporation has a long history of innovation in an automotive technology and the internal combustion engine has been an integral part of the powertrains of their products for many years.  With increasing scrutiny of fuel resources, it is important to consider methods for improving powertrain efficiency.  The Client wanted to increase powertrain efficiency by improving the utilization of heat generated by the internal combustion engine.

Our Approach:

NineSigma and the Client collaborated to define key attributes of a technology to utilize waste heat.  NineSigma sent invitations to the global engineering and scientific community and received more than 40 proposals from companies, a government lab, and academic organizations in North America, Asia, and Europe.

The Impact:

NineSigma's Client engaged a small European company in a three month proof of concept.

Remote Controlled Vehicle for NDE Inspection of Large, Vertical Concrete Structures

The Electric Power Research institute sought a technology that would automate the movement of test equipment around a structure in order to expedite the process and significantly reduce the costs.

Client: Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
Project Title: Remote Controlled Vehicle for NDE Inspection of Large, Vertical Concrete Structures

The Challenge:

Large, curved vertical concrete structures are inspected using nondestructive tests where technicians move scaffolds around the structure.  This process is time-consuming and expensive, plus as the large concrete structures age, it is necessary to inspect them periodically.  The Electric Power Research Institute sought a technology that would automate the movement of test equipment around a structure in order to expedite the process and significantly reduce the costs.

Our Approach:

NineSigma collaborated with the Client to describe the challenging surface and operating conditions for an unmanned, remote-controlled vehicle, and launched invitations for proposals to a global network of innovators across various industries and technical disciplines.  Proposals were received from a number of different industries, academia, and laboratories from areas like North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.  Several responses matched the established criteria.

The Impact:

EPRI contracted with a respondent team to conduct proof of concept.

Green Chemistry Partners
A global client was seeking to build a network of strategic partners with expertise in “Green Chemistry,” particularly in the area of eco-solvents, with the goal of incorporating green chemistry principles into their products and processes.

Client: Global Consumer Products Company
Project Title: Green Chemistry Partners

The Challenge:

A Global Client was seeking to build a network of strategic partners with expertise in "Green Chemistry," particularly in the area of eco-solvents, with the goal of incorporating green chemistry principles into their products and processes.  Although the Client had experts and an internal team collaborating on the search, they hadn't been able to find vetted partners with the appropriate expertise after a year of work and high costs.

Our Approach:

NineSigma collaborated with the Client to define the partner capabilities that addressed the Client's unique business and relationship requirements.  NineSigma conducted a targeted search for potential partners to build a network the Client could tap into at any time to further a project.  In eight weeks, NineSigma identified potential partners, which were then vetted to a short list of partners that met all of the Client's requirements.

The Impact:

NineSigma conducted the targeted search without identifying the Client, and in most cases, the potential partners did not know that information about their capabilities had been delivered to the client.  NineSigma then facilitated introductions and teleconferences between the Client and the highest priority potential partners to enable direct interviews.  The NineSigma process allowed the Client to develop a "go-to" list of experts in green chemistry for future consultation.

Rapid Identification and Vetting of Research Partners

A Major Chemical and Coatings Company needed to quickly identify research partners within four weeks for silicone-based polymers.

Client: Major Chemical and Coatings Company
Project Title: Rapid Identification and Vetting of Research Partners

The Challenge:

A Major Chemical and Coatings Company needed to quickly identify research partners within four weeks for silicone-based polymers for a multi-year, $200,000 program.  A key challenge was identifying partners that already had significant experience in the target area for the intended application.

Our Approach:

Through NineSigma's Targeted Search and facilitated evaluation, NineSigma contacted a variety of potential solution providers, rapidly categorized them against the jointly developed criteria, managed a facilitated evaluation, and delivered a final ranking and partner selection within four weeks.

The Impact:

While the Client was skeptical that partners with the right expertise would be identified, four organizations met the criteria, and two were ultimately engaged for the research program.

Preventing the Use of Counterfeit Consumable Products

Counterfeiters had figured out how to defeat current security devices built into consumable cartridges. Therefore, a global manufacturer company needed to find a more robust product protection technology that was extremely difficult to defeat but did not inconvenience customers who purchased cartridges manufactured by the client.

Client: Global Manufacturing Company
Project Title: Preventing the Use of Counterfeit Consumable Products

The Challenge:

A Global Manufacturing Company manufactures equipment designed to use high quality consumable cartridges that guarantee the final results will meet or exceed both the equipment's listed performance specifications as well as customer expectations.  However, counterfeiters had figured out how to defeat the current security device built into the cartridges.  Therefore, the Client needed to find a more robust product protection technology that was extremely difficult to defeat but did not inconvenience customers who purchased cartridges manufactured by the client.

Our Approach:

NineSigma targeted a wide range of anti-counterfeiting technologies ranging from well-established products to newly emergent state-of-the-art technologies.

The Impact:

The Client decided to contract for one of the new, powerful and highly flexible systems that met all of their needs.  This system was so new it wasn't on the market at the start of the project.

Seeking Manufacturers for Cosmetic and Personal Hygiene Products

A Global 500 Company engaged NineSigma's assistance in order to identify reputable manufacturers of cosmetics and personal hygiene products that would be able to demonstrate the ability to manufacture a high-solids dissolvable film formulation.

Client: Global 500 Company
Project Title: Seeking Manufacturers for Cosmetic and Personal Hygiene Products

The Challenge:

A Global 500 Company had a difficulty manufacturing their high-solids dissolvable film formulation.  The Company required this product to be produced at a consistent high-level of quality.  They engaged NineSigma's assistance in order to identify reputable manufacturers that would be able to demonstrate that they could control all aspects of production in order to ensure that the final product met specifications.  In spite of the large number of high quality contract manufacturers of cosmetics and personal hygiene products, only a small number of these manufacturers also have expertise in making dissolvable films.

Our Approach:

NineSigma used the Targeted Search approach to interview and vet over 30 contract manufacturing companies and the quickly reduce the list to the top potential candidates, each of which went on to interview with the client.

The Impact:

NineSigma's proven protocol for rapidly identifying, vetting and selecting the best business partners saved our client time and reduced the risk of finding a high quality and experienced manufacturer for this important product line.

Surface Modification Technologies for Household Cleaning

A major multinational consumer products company sought NineSigma's help to identify materials with anti-soil properties that could be added to a surfactant solution to allow easier removal of dirt and grease from household services.

Client: Multinational Consumer Products Company
Project Title: Surface Modification Technologies for Household Cleaning

The Challenge:

Consumers expect household cleansers to remove visible soil and leave the surface with a clean and shiny appearance. Consumers also want cleaners to achieve these results with a minimum amount of effort.  One way to reduce cleaning effort is to use materials that reduce the adherence of soils.  A major Multinational Consumer Products Company sought NineSigma's help to identify materials with anti-soil properties that could be added to a surfactant solution to allow easier removal of dirt and grease from household surfaces.

Our Approach:

NineSigma helped the Client to establish specific criteria for the technology solution.  These criteria focused on identifying technologies that reduced cleaning effort while achieving a clean appearance.  The technology also needed to leave no visible residue, withstand rinsing with water, be compatible with typical aqueous cleanser formulations and be environmentally safe.

The Impact:

NineSigma's client contracted with a respondent to test their cleaning technology on different types of household surfaces and under a variety of conditions.  These ongoing tests have promising results thus far.

Tissue Preservation for Transport and/or Long-term Storage

A global consumer products company sought technologies that would maintain the viability and integrity of living epithelial tissue during transport and long-term storage.

Client: Global Consumer Products Company
Project Title: Tissue Preservation for Transport and/or Long-Term Storage

The Challenge:

Tissue engineering is a complex technology that combines biology and engineering principles to achieve functionality.  However, effective use of tissue-engineered products is complicated by transportation and storage challenges that limit shelf life.  Available storage methods were satisfactory only for the short-term, and required the engineered tissue to be removed from its liquid media for transport.  A Global Consumer Products Company sought technologies that would maintain the viability and integrity of living epithelial tissue during transport and long-term storage.

Our Approach:

NineSigma collaborated with the Client to define the technical criteria and partner business capabilities that addressed the Client's unique requirements.  NineSigma distributed the resulting RFP across its global network, targeting innovators with expertise across industries and scientific disciplines.  Solution providers proposed a wide range of approaches, including cryopreservation methods and materials, nanotechnology, food storage, medical transportation, containers and packaging, synthetic antifreeze compounds, and novel chemical formulations.

The Impact:

NineSigma introduced the Client to key solution providers with capabilities of which the Client had been previously unaware.  The Client selected one for follow up and engaged it to further develop and implement the solution.

Waterproofing Technologies for Porous Fibers

A global consumer products company sought new or adaptable technologies that would render hair hydrophobic and non-absorbent, essentially "waterproof".

Client: Global Consumer Products Company
Project Title: Waterproofing Technologies for Porous Fibers

The Challenge:

Protein fibers like hair are essentially "porous" and can easily absorb or lose water from the environment under wet or dry conditions.  Water migration to and from these fibers causes several undesirable effects that could be limited if the surface, or "pores", could be sealed.  A Global Consumer Products Company sought new or adaptable technologies that would render hair hydrophobic and non-absorbent, essentially "waterproof".

Our Approach:

NineSigma worked with the Client to define the need as a materials science problem, rather than one specifically targeted to hair.  NineSigma reached across its network to identify potential solution providers that had capabilities to address the problem, regardless of industry.  The Request was distributed globally and responses were submitted from variously-sized companies within the technical marketplace, as well as research groups from academia.  Respondents offered solutions in nanotechnology, surface modification technology, plasma deposition, coatings, and polymer chemistry.

The Impact:

Through NineSigma's RFP process, the Client gained new connections to previously unknown solution providers.  The Client selected a solution provider from outside of the consumer products industry that provided material samples for testing.  The partnership with NineSigma allowed the Client to identify its best options to move forward in the development of the commercialized product.

Electric Grid Power Storage

To develop the most effective strategy for building a better electric grid in the United States, a global electronics manufacturer needed to accurately identify all the high capacity electric storage devices currently being used in the US.

Client: Global Electronics Manufacturer
Project Title: Electric Grid Power Storage

The Challenge:

Developing strategies to improve the efficiency of the electric grid requires a detailed and accurate knowledge of the current equipment used to regulate, store, and transmit electricity.  However, this information is fragmented and requires the integration of several sources of information, the verification of its accuracy, and the elimination of redundancy.  In addition, many reports are too "optimistic", especially in their assessment of the current readiness and availability of new technologies.  To develop the most effective strategy for building a better electric grid in the US, a Global Electronics Manufacturer needed to accurately identify all the high capacity electric storage devices currently being used in the United States.

Our Approach:

NineSigma used their unique search capabilities to develop an accurate list of the different types of electric storage devices currently used on the grid.

The Impact:

NineSigma was able to identify not only the most established technologies, but also the best new technologies ranging from dams used for pumped hydroelectric power to a wide variety of batteries used for high capacity electric storage.

Icephobic Coatings for Overhead Conductors

A Fortune 100 Company sought proposals for coatings that could prevent ice accumulation on high-voltage transmission lines.

Client: Fortune 100 Company
Project Title: Icephobic Coatings for Overhead Conductors

The Challenge:

A Fortune 100 Company sought proposals for coatings that could prevent ice accumulation on high-voltage transmission lines.  These aluminum power lines currently include a strong but poorly conductive steel core to enable the power lines to withstand the weight of ice buildup.  Applying an icephobic coating to minimize ice accumulation on power lines would allow the replacement of the steel core with a more conductive aluminum core.  Thus, fewer power lines would be required thereby decreasing construction costs and maintenance, while simultaneously increasing the longevity and reliability of the power transmission system.

Our Approach:

The Request was distributed globally to inventors, academia, and research laboratories experienced in manufacturing icephobic coatings.  The Client was most interested in finding new long-lasting icephobic coatings that would not need to be reapplied every year.

The Impact:

The Client contacted five solution providers for samples to evaluate.  They are currently testing the durability of the submitted technologies.

Enhanced Oil Recovery

A global energy company was looking for game-changing surfactant technology for enhanced oil recovery that would be inexpensive and work in low concentrations while simultaneously reducing surfactant loss.

Client: Global Energy Company
Project Title: Enhanced Oil Recovery

The Challenge:

Enhanced petroleum recovery depends on the displacement of oil with water and many approaches optimizing such recovery techniques have emerged through additives to water.  Surfactants are selected to lower the surface tension between oil and water, resulting in the mobilization of otherwise trapped oil.  A Global Energy Company was looking for game-changing surfactant technology for enhanced oil recovery that would be inexpensive and work in low concentrations while simultaneously reducing surfactant loss.

Our Approach:

The Client engaged NineSigma while simultaneously running the project with their own established network and a NineSigma competitor.  NineSigma gathered more responses than the other approaches combined.  The number of responses received with novel biologically-derived materials was of particular interest to the Client.

The Impact:

The Client short-listed eleven proposals from NineSigma's list of qualified solution providers.

Middle Market Clean Energy Company

A global provider of clean energy solutions was looking to identify possible improvements in their current synthetic fuel production and engaged NineSigma to help them identify major players and potential partners.

Client: Global Clean Energy Provider
Project Title: Middle Market Clean Energy Company

The Challenge:

A Global Provider of Clean Energy Solutions was looking to identify possible improvements in their current synthetic fuel production.  They were particularly interested in biomass-to-biofuel conversion.  They needed to identify major players and potential partners as they explored new market opportunities for alternative products based on their existing technology.  The Client engaged NineSigma to give them a clear picture of the status of biofuel development and to help them identify major players and potential partners.

Our Approach:

NineSigma faced the challenge of understanding the biofuel market, which was made more difficult due to the promotional hype surrounding this particular technology area.  NineSigma reviewed the state of the art technologies for biomass conversion and outlined a realistic view on economic and technical potential.  NineSigma was able to identify and analyze markets for new products based on the Client's existing technology.  Their final report contained global market size, growth rates, supply and demand analysis, end applications summary, and costs and key players in four recommended market areas.

The Impact:

In a relatively short time frame, the Client gained a deeper understanding of the biofuel market and the best path to leveraging and expanding their current capabilities.  NineSigma was able to identify for them new system designs that enable improved technical performance.  NineSigma also provided recommendations on several companies to watch or partner with moving forward.

Next Generation Steam Generators for the Thermal Recovery of Heavy Oil

The Oil Sands Leadership Initiative sought proposals for the development of Next Generation Steam Generators for in-situ thermal recovery of heavy oil and focused on identifying potential "game changing" or "breakthrough" boiler technologies.

Client: The Oil Sands Leadership Initiative (OSLI)
Project Title: Next Generation Steam Generators for the Thermal Recovery of Heavy Oil

The Challenge:

The Oil Sands Leadership Initiative (OSLI) is a collaborative network of five companies focused on improving the environment, social, and economic performance in developing the oil sands in Alberta, Canada.  It is current practice in the Oil Sands industry to use Once-Thru Steam Generators, Heat Recovery Steam Generators, or traditional drum boilers to generate steam for the in-situ recovery processes.  These steam generation technologies require high quality boiler feed water, but most operating facilities used recycled process water, which does not meet the water quality requirements.  OSLI sought proposals for the development of Next Generation Steam Generators for in-situ thermal recovery of heavy oil.  Their challenge focused on identifying potential "game-changing" or "breakthrough" boiler technologies that could lead to high quality steam generation with significantly poorer boiler feed water quality than is required for existing boiler technologies.

Our Approach:

Almost twenty responses were received by NineSigma.  The respondents' technologies and capabilities were mapped against OSLI's performance criteria.  Many of the respondents had knowledge of the specific challenge, and therefore, were presenting sophisticated approaches to evolve boiler technology.

The Impact:

Four organizations were selected for additional follow-up, including existing oil service equipment companies, and a breakthrough approach has been selected for further development.

Local Subsea Power Generation

An Energy Company wanted to find a remote local power general system that would meet underwater power demand needs while eliminating expensive long distance power cables.

Client: Energy Company
Project Title: Local Subsea Power Generation

The Challenge:

A substantial fraction of the world's oil and natural gas supply originates from offshore production facilities.  As more hydrocarbon resources are discovered in deeper and more remote offshore waters, production from wells located on the ocean floor, or "subsea" production, is becoming more common.  An Energy Company wanted to find remote local power general system that would meet underwater power demand needs, while eliminating expensive long distance power cables.

Our Approach:

NineSigma received almost 40 responses, including a wide variety of approaches that ranged from wave energy to more exotic and breakthrough approaches.  While many would be difficult to scale to meet the power requirements for a subsea drilling application, the top respondents had quite sophisticated technologies under development to meet these targets.

The Impact:

NineSigma's Client engaged a partner with significant marine experience for a million dollar, multi-year development program.

Using Bioplastics to Make Optical Components

A multinational lighting manufacturer collaborated with NineSigma to find plastics made from sustainable sources of biomass for use as opaque reflectors or clear optical lenses.

Client: Multinational Lighting Manufacturer
Project Title: Using Bioplastics to Make Optical Components

The Challenge:

Significant effort and resources are being spent by global corporations to develop more sustainable methods of manufacturing plastic products.  While switching to bio-based plastics would give corporations a lower carbon footprint, it has been difficult to find biopolymers that have equivalent price and performance to petroleum-based materials.  A Multinational Lighting Manufacturer collaborated with NineSigma to find plastics made from sustainable sources of biomass for use as opaque reflectors or clear optical lenses.

Our Approach:

NineSigma targeted groups currently in developing and manufacturing bioplastics, as well as reputable research groups from industry, non-profit institutes and academia.

The Impact:

NineSigma identified two companies with existing bio-based plastic products and the expertise to modify their products to meet the Client's needs.  NineSigma also identified a third group that represented the entire supply chain from the production of biomass to the chemical modification of plastic.

Breakthrough Water Treatment Technologies

To enable a broader impact on improving process water treatment, this multi-company challenge allowed companies to co-invest in precompetitive technologies and share in the benefits.

Linked Innovation
Project Title: Breakthrough Water Treatment Technologies

The Challenge:

Improvements in process water treatment can enable cost savings, reduced water usage, improved water reuse, and reduced impact on effluent discharge.  To enable broader impact, this multi-company Challenge allowed companies to co-invest in precompetitive technologies and share in the benefits.

Our Approach:

NineSigma assessed the needs and areas of technical and business interests of four participating companies from the consumer products, ingredient production, and packaged food and beverage industries.  NineSigma recommended and executed an action plan to challenge the innovation community to meet these common needs.  The challenges were launched globally and resulted in the identification of more than 75 potential partners, categorized and ranked against 10 key solution areas.  NineSigma facilitated identification of both overlapping and unique client interests, and managed assessment of high priority partners in an on-site meeting.  Participants identified areas of collaboration and overlapping interest for a number of approaches.

The Impact:

The Challenge brought diverse companies together to sit down and think collectively about a common problem.  NineSigma's process helped each company to learn from its peers and to address a big issue with cross-industry impact.

Connecting Physical and Financial Health

A Fortune 500 financial services company was seeking new ways to educate consumers in making good decisions about physical and financial health. The goal was to change consumer behavior that would promote positive lifestyle changes.

Client: Fortune 500 Financial Services Company
Project Title: Ideation Challenge - Connecting Physical and Financial Health

The Challenge:

The link between financial health and physical health has been understood for centuries.  Most individuals understand this link in an intellectual manner, but it can be challenging for the average person to understand this concept in a manner that will affect decision-making in a day-to-day fashion.  A Fortune 500 Financial Services Company was seeking new ways to educate consumers in making good decisions about physical and financial health.  The goal was to change consumer behavior that would promote positive lifestyle changes.

Our Approach:

NineSigma and the Client discussed and defined what would constitute a desirable outcome.  Responses were received from all around the world and covered diverse approaches such as games linked to social media, medical devices, statistical analyses, and the use of intergeneration mentoring.

The Impact:

NineSigma broadened the Client's traditional approach to new product development by tapping into potential respondent pools beyond the standard financial services reach.  The Client identified so many interesting possibilities that they more than doubled their original funding to be in order to follow up with more solution providers of interest.

High Throughput Coating Process for Small Delicate Parts

A global consumer products company wanted a method or technology to uniformly apply a thin protective coating to non-round candy pieces, and was open to approaches for new processes, coatings, or a combination of both.

Client: Global Consumer Products Company
Project Title: High Throughput Coating Process for Small Delicate Parts

The Challenge:

Chocolate candy can scuff and look unattractive when the pieces rub against one another.  Above 29 degrees Celsius chocolate begins to melt, and if uncoated, the pieces tend to adhere to each other.  Coatings can be applied using traditional tumbling and flat pan methods, but unusual shapes pose challenges because the pieces can agglomerate, and coatings can build up too thickly and unevenly.  A Global Consumer Products Company wanted a method or technology to uniformly apply a thin protective coating to non-round candy pieces, and was open to approaches for new processes, coatings, or a combination of both.

Our Approach:

NineSigma and the Client collaborated to define the technical and business needs, and NineSigma targeted its global innovation community for potential solution providers across industries.  Proposals were received from innovators with experience in mechanical engineering, equipment design, advanced materials, food, robotics, spraying and printing.

The Impact:

The Client identified a group of high priority solution providers with applicable technology, and through NineSigma, interviewed the group before making a decision about the best solution.  Through their partnership with NineSigma, the Client was able to identify the best method to move forward in the development of their commercialized product.  The Client was able to develop successfully non-round chocolate candies that could be packaged together without scuffing or melting together.  This product is currently in the market.

Nanoparticle Halide Salt: Formulation and Delivery

In order to meet customer needs, PepsiCo was looking for ways to reduce sodium in their Frito-Lay brand of chips without losing their salty flavor. PepsiCo was seeking new formulation technologies for creating nano and micron-sized particles, suspending for transportation, and application and drying techniques for halide salts.

Client: PepsiCo
Project Title: Nanoparticle Halide Salt: Formulation and Delivery

The Challenge:

With the increased focus on health and nutrition, consumers are demanding better ingredients in their food products without the sacrifice of taste and satisfaction.  In order to meet customer needs, PepsiCo was looking for ways to reduce sodium in their Frito-Lay brand of chips without losing their salty flavor.  PepsiCo was seeking new formulation technologies for creating nano and micro-sized particles, suspending for transportation, and application and drying techniques for halide salts.

Our Approach:

Among the responses received were two US companies and one European university.  Through NineSigma's RFP process, PepsiCo was able to identify a new approach for continuous production of halid nanoparticles, with a spin-out commercial partner that could dip/coat surfaces.

The Impact:

PepsiCo and the solution provider signed a multi-year research and development agreement.  They were able to create a "crystal salt" by reducing the surface area of salt, which reduces sodium levels while still retaining a salty punch.  The integration of the new salt formulation into Pepsi's snack food products has been developed and is available in the market.

"There are a lot of productive connections out there waiting to happen.  What turned out to be a great connection for PepsiCo could have never been predicted." -Carlos J. Barroso, R&D Executive, PepsiCo (former)

Doneness Indicator for Sausages

A global sausage manufacturer sought a method, visual or otherwise, that would indicate to a consumer the doneness of their grilled fresh pork sausage product. Such an indicator would provide consistent grilled quality of the sausage and prevent under-cooking, over-cooking, or burned sausages.

Client: Global Sausage Manufacturer
Project Title: Doneness Indicator for Sausages

The Challenge:

Sausage is a popular menu item for picnics, parties, and meals at sporting events.  Consumers often grill sausages but have difficulty knowing when they have cooked the sausage optimally.  A Global Sausage Manufacturer sought a method, visual or otherwise, that would indicate to a consumer the doneness of their grilled fresh pork sausage product.  Such an indicator would provide consistent grilled quality of the sausage and prevent under-cooking, over-cooking, or burned sausages.

Our Approach:

NineSigma collaborated with the Client to define the capabilities that addressed the Client's request and maintained certain criteria.  Formal responses were submitted from variously-sized companies within the technical marketplace, as well as reputable research groups from academia and others.  Some respondents offered multiple solutions.

The Impact:

The Client evaluated responses to see if they fit the most important criteria of low production cost and application to the general population.  Client engaged one respondent to conduct proof of concept and to work to develop a commercially viable indicator.

New Re-sealable Package Closure System

Kraft Foods Global, Inc. wanted to find a novel reclose system for food packaging that would maintain freshness and reduce product contamination, while still remaining cost effective and easy-to-use.

Client: Kraft Foods Global, Inc.
Project Title: New Re-sealable Package Closure System

The Challenge:

Kraft Foods Global, Inc. produces a variety of food products purchased by consumers that are eaten over an extended period of time, and thus require packaging that allows for the product to be sealed and resealed.  Packaging for dry snack products should maintain the freshness and quality in the home for a storage period after the initial opening.  Current seal and reseal features exist for this type of packaging that would maintain freshness and reduce product contamination, while still remaining cost effective and easy-to-use.

Our Approach:

NineSigma identified a number of responses, one of which was a proposal to explore ways that "nature" enables open and closing, such as exhibited by heart valves, as inspiration for identifying biomimetic closure mechanisms that could be applied to food packaging.

The Impact:

Kraft Foods created a two-stage program:  first, they engaged the biomimetic experts to identify viable techniques from nature, and second, these results were used in a university "competition" to design packages from these insights.  The program resulted in new package innovation that was patented by Kraft, and illustrates a creative way to combine different approaches to achieve a successful goal.

Development of Pourable Frozen Pasta and Sauce Products

A Multi-Billion Dollar Company sought proposals for the development of a new, frozen pasta and sauce product that could easily be poured or scooped which would enable consumers to prepare the exact portion desired.

Client: Multi-Billion Dollar Company
Project Title: Development of Pourable Frozen Pasta and Sauce Products

The Challenge:

Currently, pasta and sauce products are sold as both a shelf-stable kit with a powder sauce or as a frozen block product.  Shelf-stable kits require longer preparation time in order to cook pasta before adding additional ingredients.  The frozen product combats this lengthy preparation time, but is limited because it requires cooking the entire portion when a smaller amount may be desired.  A Multi-Billion Dollar Company sought proposals for the development of a new, frozen pasta and sauce product that could easily be poured or scooped which would enable consumers to prepare the exact portion desired.

Our Approach:

A key element to NineSigma's approach was focusing on the enabling technology, while "hiding" the product and application of interest.  A number of responses were received, including an organization that had been developing frozen pourable beverages that was a close fit to the intended application.

The Impact:

NineSigma's Client engaged the solution provider in a very small development contract, and was able to utilize the knowledge learned to adapt the production technology with an existing supplier and launch the product within 18 months.

LAUNCH

LAUNCH, a joint initiative of NASA, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of State, and NIKE, works to address large, sustainability-related challenges that no single government or commercial entity can solve alone. LAUNCH chose NineSigma to help with this Energy Challenge, entitled "Innovative Energy Technologies and Deployment for Sustainable Development." They were focused on finding solutions for transforming the gneration and delivery of electricity.

LAUNCH, a joint initiative of NASA, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of State, and NIKE, works to address large, sustainability-related challenges that no single government or commercial entity can solve alone.  It was formed in an effort to identify, showcase and support innovative approaches to global challenges and to search for visionaries, whose world-class ideas, technologies or programs show great promise for making tangible impacts on society.

Societal Impact

The current production methods for energy are not sustainable and sufficient to meet the growing global demand for cheap, reliable and accessible energy, especially in developing countries.  A large number of individuals living in rural, poor areas across the globe do not have access to an electric grid and without electricity, citizens must use kerosene lanterns, which are expensive to fuel, generate indoor pollution, and are too dim to allow them to run a business or study in the dark.

Challenge

There is a critical need to create low-cost and accessible sources of electricity.  Technologies that could provide individuals the access they need to electricity could lead to dramatic improvements in their lives.  In order to achieve this and keep the service cost-effective, however, breakthroughs in energy efficiency, equitable access, reduction of greenhouse gasses, and increased reliability needed to be made.

Results

LAUNCH chose NineSigma to help with this Energy Challenge, entitled "Innovative Energy Technologies and Deployment for Sustainable Development."  They were focused on finding solutions for transforming the gneration and delivery of electricity.  Using its core expertise, NineSigma helped draft an effective Need Statement, and distributed a Technology Brief targeting public and private sector energy specialists plus financial modeling and private institutions.  Within just three months, over 160 proposals were submitted and reviewed.

Multiple Winners

NineSigma has connected LAUNCH with a broad spectrum of energy innovators, including companies, inventors and nonprofit organizations.  After careful review, 10 "game changing" solutions were selected.  The LAUNCH Forum provides winners with influential business, government and investment while the LAUNCH Accelerator provides winners with mentoring from participants interested in funding or implementing the innovations.

"As the world's population reaches record levels, and demands on the environment increase, the need for sustainable energy sources has never been more urgent.  NineSigma was integral to our process of identifying transformative technologies, and we are now beginning the important work of accelerating them forward into the world." - Victor Friedberg, LAUNCH Executive Director

Handheld High-Intensity LED Lamp

A Global 500 Corporation sought proposals for the conversion of a prototype LED lighting device into a commercially attractive unit.

Client: Global 500 Corporation
Project Title: Handheld High-Intensity LED Lamp

The Challenge:

Recent improvements in the brightness and color spectrum of LEDs are extending their use into areas previously dominated by incandescent and fluorescent lights.  The low operating temperatures and long lives of LEDS are attractive features for hazardous environment applications.  A prototype device has been designed and tested for the Client's hazardous environment application, but currently is not suitable for scalable manufacturing and rough handling.  A Global 500 Corporation sought proposals for the conversion of this prototype lighting device into a commercially attractive unit.

Our Approach:

NineSigma drew on its database of design firms and global experts in LED technology to provide our client with over 30 proposals from companies with varying degrees of design experience with LED devices.

The Impact:

The Client selected two companies to follow up and engage in discussions with under a non-disclosure agreement.

Transparent Conducting Graphene Coatings on Polymer Film Substrates

A multinational conglomerate corporation was seeking new technologies to achieve high speed layering graphene directly on plastic films.

Client: Multinational Conglomerate Corporation
Project Title: Transparent Conducting Graphene Coatings on Polymer Film Substrates

The Challenge:

Flat panel electronics, such as LCD displays, are made by applying a thin transparent layer of conductive material onto a polymer film substrate.  Indium tin oxide (ITO) which is widely used as the transparent conductor contains a rare earth material with electrical and optical properties that make it a potential candidate for use in LCD displays.  The problem was that current methods of layering graphene on plastic films were slow and not commercially viable.  A Multinational Conglomerate Corporation was seeking new technologies to achieve high speed layering graphene directly on plastic films.

Our Approach:

The inventors of graphene received the Nobel Prize around the time that the project was launched, drawing a lot of attention from potential solution providers to it.  NineSigma helped the Client target groups with expertise in developing aqueous solutions of graphene that could be rapidly and evenly layered directly onto rolls of polymer film.

The Impact:

This high speed application process is the key technology needed to make graphene-based LCD displays commercially viable.  NineSigma introduced the Client to a group with the expertise to develop a formulation for graphene that is compatible with the high speed application process.

Optical Object Recognition

A Global Manufacturing Company sought a mobile device application that could measure the surface features of small appliances without having to set calibrations.

Client: Global Manufacturing Company
Project Title: Optical Object Recognition

The Challenge:

Sophisticated applications have made mobile phones and tablets convenient tools for performing tedious or time-consuming tasks.  A Global Manufacturing Company wanted to harness the power and flexibility of a camera-equipped mobile device to measure and identify the surface features of small appliances without having to set calibrations.  The goal of the project was to develop an application that could accurately measure the front and back panels of an appliance and identify its exact features, components and product model.  With the application, manufacturers would be able to create electronic instruction manuals, providing more environmentally friendly and cheaper packaging.

Our Approach:

The NineSigma team articulated the Need in such a way that it invited proposals from a wide variety of Solution Providers outside of the Client's existing networks, including businesses, academic institutions and research groups from Europe and North America.

The Impact:

The Client selected the top three responses from the submitted Solution Provider abstracts.  Upon further discussion, they entered into a deal with Xerox, who delivered a prototype quickly and within scope.  The Client continues to move forward with the identified solution of this project and the results have exceeded expectations.

Sub-Sea Wireless Communication
BP sought proposals for the development of a next generation wireless sub-sea communications system that would relay information between sub-sea equipment to a surface production platform.

Client: BP p.l.c.
Project Title: Sub-Sea Wireless Communication

The Challenge:

BP operates floating production platforms which are connected to and operate a wide range of undersea equipment involved with the production of crude oil and gas.  Safe and efficient operation of this equipment is critically important and information on the status and condition of equipment in all operating modes is essential for integrity operations and design movement.  

BP sought proposals for the development of a next generation wireless sub-sea communications system that would relay information between sub-sea equipment and to a surface production platform.  Besides the technical challenge of operating two miles below sea level, the vision for the desired system was a smart multinodal mote network having significantly greater bandwidths and lower power or intervention needs than conventional ultrasonic or record and retrieve techniques.

Our Approach:

NineSigma collaborated with BP to learn about and articulate the need vision and present a worthwhile opportunity for potential solution providers in the form of access to a production platform as a test and development site with no desire for IP ownership with the goal of identifying and engaging development partners with leading edge sub-sea communication, networking, and power management technologies.

Using its tools and unique outreach strategies, NineSigma developed a custom network of potential solution providers for the search and engaged the innovation community on behalf of BP.  The RFP generated considerable interest from the technical marketplace and a large number of high quality proposals were received from medium to large companies and world leading experts from academia and technical institutes from a number of developed countries worldwide.  Among many interesting approaches, the effort surfaced novel technologies developed for military application which could be converted to commercial use as well as the call for joint development by competing oil and gas exploration companies among others.  

In a second phase, NineSigma facilitated the review of the proposals including second and third round meetings between BP and a narrowing group of providers of which one was eventually selected for formal engagement.

The Impact:

Despite conducting a laborious and expensive search internally, BP was unable to find the results they were searching for.  Working with NineSigma allowed BP to establish new connections within this technical space and become aware of cutting edge technologies adaptable to their needs. 

Information Structuring Technologies

A global manufacturing company had an existing knowledge management system, but was concerned about the use of expensive human domain experts to provide categorization of contents for multiple approaches to access.

Client: Global Manufacturing Company
Project Title: Information Structuring Technologies

The Challenge:

In this age of overwhelming floods of information, the problem of knowing what you know has become a critical challenge in many organizations.  A Global Manufacturing Company had an existing knowledge management system, but was concerned about the use of expensive human domain experts to provide categorization of contents for multiple approaches to access.  Could automated systems be found that were smart enough to create associations between the contents of the knowledge base and the keywords with minimal human intervention or validation?

Our Approach:

Over 50 responses were received from areas all over the world including North America, Western and Eastern Europe, and Asia.  These responses reflected a balanced mix of industry and academia.  Working closely with our Client, NineSigma engaged a high volume of respondents in follow-up discussions to fill in gaps in the original proposals and speed grading of the proposals uniformly against top criteria.

The Impact:

The Client selected four responding teams showing promise for low human resource requirements for capabilities demonstrations.  Numerous proposals were identified as having technology or capabilities of interest to other needs of the Client as well.

Novel Wireless Communication Systems for Down Hole Applications

NineSigma's Oil and Gas Client wanted to improve the use of two-way communication and sought NineSigma's help in identifying partners with innovative and robust wireless communication systems.

Client: Oil and Gas Company
Project Title: Novel Wireless Communication Systems for Down Hole Applications

The Challenge:

Harsh environments like those encountered in down hole drilling applications present special challenges, especially for improving data transmission between the surface and the devices/drilling equipment.  The extreme pressure, temperature, and distance make use of existing electronics components near impossible.  Additionally, other approaches explored had poor data integrity, and had a long lag time between sending and receiving data.  NineSigma's Oil and Gas Client wanted to improve the use of two way communication and sought NineSigma's help in identifying partners with innovative and robust wireless communications systems.

Our Approach:

Because of the ambitious application requirements, NineSigma broke the project into two sections - one to focus on data transmission technology and the other to focus on powering these devices "down hole" with newer, breakthrough techniques.

The Impact:

Over 30 responses were received by NineSigma, and a variety of approaches were identified through a facilitated evaluation, including approaches from outside oil and gas applications.

Formaldehyde-Free Resin/Binder/Adhesive Technology

Establishing a formaldehyde-free adhesive/bonding technology was significantly important to the business of a major Manufacturing Corporation. The technology needed to be capable of binding wood, wood and glass fibers, sand, and/or cellulose while also employing sustainable principles.

Client: Global 500 Company
Project Title: Formaldehyde-Free Resin/Binder/Adhesive Technology

The Challenge:

Two binder materials, phenol formaldehyde and urea formaldehyde resins, are currently preferred in the building and industrial products markets.  These binders provide mechanical integrity to plywood, particle board, pressed wood products, fiberglass insulation, roofing shingles, and composite products.  Industry regulations call for eliminating formaldehyde from future formulations.  Establishing a formaldehyde-free adhesive/bonding technology was significantly important to the business of a Major Manufacturing Corporation.  The technology needed to be capable of binding wood, wood and glass fibers, sand, and/or cellulose while also employing sustainable principles.

Our Approach:

The Client preferred to find a technology where the intellectual property was already secured or could be co-developed so that they could obtain its exclusive use in the intended market.  They engaged NineSigma for assistance in their problem, and the two collaborated to define a desirable outcome.  Responses were received from around the world, including companies throughout the United States, Canada, Malaysia, Europe, Egypt, Asia, China, Greece, and India.

The Impact:

Through the NineSigma RFP process, the Client identified an adequate solution provider for their challenge.  The Client is working with an organization who is responsible for initiating development of the various sectors of the timber industry and enhancing sustainable growth.  This organization focuses mainly on developing new technologies with their fiber and bio composite division.

Novel Adhesion Technologies

A global medical device company was searching for novel technologies that would provide rigid internal fixation without the need for screws. This new method would result in ease of use for the surgeon and less operating room time for the patient.

Client: Global Medical Device Company
Project Title: Novel Adhesion Technologies

The Challenge:

Current standard of care for the repair of fractured or reconstructed bones utilizes plates or screws for internal fixation, methods that are difficult and time consuming.  A Global Medical Device Company was searching for novel technologies that would provide rigid internal fixation without the need for screws.  This new method would result in ease of use for the surgeon and less operating room time for the patient.  The Company had approached medical industry and surgical organizations, but had not looked outside of the industry to find solutions.

Our Approach:

NineSigma and the Client collaborated to define criteria for the desired technology.  NineSigma reached out across its network for potential solution providers.  Solution proposals were received from all over the world and included diverse approaches based on polymer physics, nanotechnology, bone cements and fillers, natural adhesives, biomaterials, semiconductors and more.

The Impact:

NineSigma expanded the Client's access to global innovators, beyond the medical industry, by reaching broadly into the NineSigma network of solution providers.  The Client identified a number of approaches, including novel solutions from gecko and marine adhesive pioneers, for follow-up testing.

Polyurethane Medical Devices

The Client sought coatings to reduce friction when medical sterile devices come in contact with the mucosal tissue and biological fluids, while remaining easily activated in sterile water or saline.

Client: Major Consumer Products Company
Project Title: Polyurethane Medical Devices

The Challenge:

Medical sterile devices often require force to move within human tissue.  Polyurethane is an ideal material for use in these devices because it can easily be extruded or shaped, while still providing excellent resistance against breakage under tension.  One challenge with the material, however, is how to reduce the friction and insertion force.  Therefore, the Client sought coatings to reduce friction when devices come in contact with the mucosal tissue and biological fluids while remaining easily activated in sterile water or saline.

Our Approach:

Twenty-five responses were received, mostly from companies and some large material suppliers.  NineSigma vetted these responses to ensure that they met the characteristics established by the Client.  All technologies had to be able to reduce the force needed to dilate tissue by 80 percent while remaining a medical grade coating material and commercially viable within a short timeframe.

The Impact:

Several solution providers had been applying new coatings for catheters and similar medical devices sparked the Client's interest, and they immediately began trials with sample coatings.  Improving the use of polyurethane in medical devices in a continuous industry challenge which companies and organizations continue to pursue new technologies to address.  NineSigma continues to provide companies with the network to allow them to connect with new individuals that have continuously developed new solutions for these companies to work into coding for their products.

Geospatial Positioning for Underground Environments

A global mining company wanted to find a reliable, single pervasive technology that would allow for instantaneous and highly accurate 3-dimensional geospatial position and orientation information in an underground mining environment.

Client: Global Mining Company
Project Title: Geospatial Positioning for Underground Environments

The Challenge:

In the underground mining industry there is a need to know, upon demand, the precise location of people, machinery, inventory, and tools in both known and unknown areas of a mine.  A Global Mining Company wanted to find a reliable, single pervasive technology that would allow for instantaneous and highly accurate 3-dimensional geospatial position and orientation information in an underground mining environment.  Such technology could be used to reliably and safely guide and navigate autonomous vehicles and interpret positional data.  The Client was interested in contributing to advancement of the technology to a point that it would become commercially viable.

Our Approach:

NineSigma collaborated with the Client to articulate the technical need, and launched invitations to a global network of innovators across industries and technical disciplines.  While some members of the global community doubted the feasibility of "underground GPS," proposals were received from medical, search and rescue, railway, aerospace and mining sectors, among others, and included technologies in development, already reduced to practice, prototyped, and ready to license.

The Impact:

Through NineSigma's managed process, the Client gained new connections to previously unknown technology providers.  Because the Client's identity was revealed in NineSigma's challenge statement, members of the Client team were also approached directly across the globe.  NineSigma helped the Client to develop a network of partners with broad capabilities that it could tap into as technologies progressed.

Methods to Increase Silver Extraction from Ores

Newmont Mining Corporation wanted to find new methods, processes, or materials that would increase silver extraction from ores.

Client: Newmont Mining Corporation
Project Title: Methods to Increase Silver Extraction from Ores

The Challenge:

Today's mining activity involves the extraction of trace amounts of precious metals from rocks that consist of mixed ores.  The rock matrix is often populated with other, undesirable substances like mercury or arsenic, while precious metals are encapsulated in other hard, inert materials.  Despite the rising price of silver, conventional methods of extraction, including crushing, grinding and leaching at very high concentrations of fluid were not viable options. Newmont Mining Corporation wanted to find new methods, or materials, that would increase silver extraction from ores.

Our Approach:

NineSigma and Newmont collaborated in order to identify the specific solution needs, and NineSigma targeted its global innovation community for potential solution providers across a variety of industries.  More than 40 proposals were received from innovators with backgrounds in chemistry, metallurgy, and materials science and experience in metal extraction from difficult matrices.

The Impact:

Through NineSigma's RFP process, Newmont was able to identify a number of solution providers with applicable technology and identify the best method to move forward in solving the challenge of silver extraction.  Newmont's Innovation team is currently working with several solution providers to evaluate the new technologies.

International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)

The creation of an effective vaccine is the most economical and practical way to eliminate AIDS. NineSigma collaborated with IAVI to help advance HIV vaccine research by identifying new approaches to the design of a potential vaccine.

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is a global not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. They work with partners in 25 countries to research, design, and develop vaccine candidates through targeted investments in the design and development of new tools for prevention. IAVI is funded by the Gates Foundation and charitable contributions and have focused on AIDS vaccine development for over 10 years.

NineSigma, as part of its NineSigma Gives Back program, donated its technology search services to help IAVI advance HIV vaccine research by indentifying new approaches to the design of a potential vaccine. 

Societal Impact

The creation of an effective vaccine is the most economical and practical way to eliminate AIDS. NineSigma collaborated with IAVI to help advance HIV vaccine research by identifying new approaches to the design of a potential vaccine.

"Open innovation offers a new way to address and, we hope, solve problems impeding the development of effective HIV vaccines." - Andy Zynga, CEO, NineSigma

Challenge

In order to have an effective HIV vaccine, the vaccine must elicit antibodies that wil neutralize the virus. The HIV Envelope protein (Env) is the only target for neutralizing antibodies and this protein is highly unstable. In an HIV infection, functional Env trimer is almost always expressed in the presence of other non-functional forms, which distracts the antibody response from the important target. Vaccine designers have been able to engineer a stable, functional Env trimer and in order to develop an effective vaccine there is an urgent need to design a stable soluble Env trimer that mimics the functional molecule.

Results

Working closely with IAVI scientists, NineSigma recommeded, drafted and disseminated a Request for Proposal (RFP), titled "Engineering Stable Proteins." This RFP allowed NineSigma to reach out to a worldwide network of distinguished protein scientists that were previously unrelated to HIV research. As a result, more than 30 proposales were submitted from highly qualified scientists in over 14 difference countries.

Multiple Winners

NineSigma has connected IAVI with some of the world's leading biomedical researchers, and helped it identify two scientists who will receive a total of $875,000 to develop solutions for generating stable protein complexes for use in AIDS vaccines. Those whose proposales have been selected for funding or further collaboration include Dr. Rogier Sanders, Academic Medical Center, Medical Microbiology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Dr. Ralf Wagner, University of Regensburg Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Regensburg, Germany.

"We are confident that the researchers [NineSigma] helped identify have much to contribute to the development of an effective AIDS vaccine." - Wayne Koff, Chief Scientific Officer, IAVI

Chilled Product Packaging Giving a Cold Touch
A Major Food Products Manufacturer sought proposals for the technology and design of a "cold touch" package for chilled consumer products.

Client: Major Food Products Manufacturer
Project Title: Chilled Product Packaging Giving a Cold Touch

The Challenge:

Consumers prefer a sustained cool feel and touch when taking a chilled product out of the refrigerator.  The current packaging materials for chilled products lose the cold touch almost instantly and the contents warm up too quickly once out of the refrigerator.  A Major Food Products Manufacturer sought proposals for the technology and design of a "cold touch" package for chilled consumer products.

Our Approach:

NineSigma collaborated with the Client to define the capabilities that addressed the Client's request and maintained certain criteria.  NineSigma reached across its network to identify potential solution providers that had capabilities to address the problem.  Formal responses were submitted from variously-sized companies within the technical marketplace, as well as reputable research groups from academia and others.

The Impact:

NineSigma introduced the Client to key solution providers with capabilities of which the Client had been previously unaware.  The Client was able to identify solution providers to engage in further development of solutions.

Hershey Global Packaging Board

Hershey was seeking consumer insights from outside of the food and confectionery industry to advise them on future packaging trends.

Client: The Hershey Company
Project Title: Hershey Global Packaging Board

The Challenge:

Hershey was seeking consumer insights from outside the food and confectionery industry to advise them on future packaging trends.  Hershey's leaders recognized that they needed access to a full range of consumer packaging insights including aesthetics, regulatory issues, materials trends and international cultural differences.  An external advisory board was deemed essential to validate as well as redirect internal efforts.  This board would highlight several strategic opportunities that Hershey could translate into packaging concepts over a multi-year span.

Our Approach:

NineSigma extended a global search for successful candidates who would be strategic thinkers and have the ability to connect and translate consumer preferences and behaviors into viable packaging platforms.  The search extended into areas such as fashion design, European furniture design, and interior design.  Ninety-four candidates from a range of industries and regions of the world expressed their interest in the advisory board.

The Impact:

None of the selected Board members were known to Hershey previously, and none were from the food and beverage industry.  Two review groups were selected and continue to meet on a quarterly basis to review and advise on internal design efforts.

Diisocyanate-free Cushioning Technology

Sealed Air was looking to identify an alternate technology that would replace existing foam-in-place packaging systems while retaining as many of its features as possible.

Client: Sealed Air
Project Title: Diisocyanate-free Cushioning Technology

The Challenge:

Current foam-in-place systems combine A and B chemicals that initiate a reaction which allows the foam to expand within a plastic bag or between plastic sheets to conform around the object.  This system serves the market well; however, there is sensitivity among certain users to the chemical components as well as concern with the toxicity of the reactants.  Sealed Air was looking to identify an alternate technology that would replace the existing system while retaining as many of its features as possible.

Our Approach:

Responses were received from all over the world.  Proposed approaches varied and included a number of biodegradable and bio-based options.  These proposals were vetted in order to determine a method that maintained made-on-site, on-demand characteristics of the present foam-in-place place packaging, while remaining capable of impact protection at a range of product loadings.  Of the top seven proposals, Sealed Air selected a professor from an East Coast university.

The Impact:

The Professor's solution not only addressed Sealed Air's specific need for impact-protective packaging, but it also represented a significant advancement for Sealed Air and as a result helped them to identify an entirely new product line.

Global Pulp and Paper Company

A Global Pulp and Paper Company wanted to find an "intelligent" or "active" packaging technology to track temperature and ripeness and control the quality of fruits and vegetables during shipment.

Client: Global Pulp and Paper Company
Project Title: Active and Intelligent Packaging for Fruits and Vegetables

The Challenge:

The ability to ship fresh product over long distances has made a wide variety of fruits and vegetables available to markets that may not otherwise have access to them. This ability, however, comes with the task of ensuring the produce arrives on store shelves at its peak flavor and freshness, a challenge which can often increase costs and decrease customer satisfaction due to overripe fruits and spoiled vegetables. A Global Pulp and Paper Company wanted to find an “intelligent” or “active” packaging technology that could be used to track temperature and ripeness and control the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables during shipment, ultimately extending its shelf life and creating less waste.

Our Approach:

Reaching into its wide breadth of Solution Providers, NineSigma invited proposals for both intelligent packing technologies that would help track the freshness as well as active technologies that could extend the shelf life of produce. The global community responded with a wide variety of Proposals for the Client to evaluate, hailing from regions including Asia, Europe and North America. NineSigma distributed the company’s needs through the solution provider community.

The Impact:

After evaluating the proposals, the Client began further discussions with six identified groups before selecting a single Solution Provider. The Client entered into a deal with Bioastra, a Canadian smart-polymer company that developed a prototype intelligent and active technology. Upon prototype evaluation, the Client soon realized that the technology would be applicable to a different field as well, and is now in the process of applying it to the transport of blood products.

Rapid Development of Topical Ibuprofen Formulations

A Global Pharmaceutical Company had an urgent need to identify topical ibuprofen formulations that effectively relieved pain and swelling in joints. Their goal was to identify one or more partners in less than four weeks.

Client: Global Pharmaceutical Company
Project Title: Rapid Development of Topical Ibuprofen Formulations

The Challenge:

A Global Pharmaceutical Company had an urgent need to identify topical ibuprofen formulations that effectively relieved pain and swelling in joints.  The Client's global was to identify one or more partner in less than four weeks.

Our Approach:

NineSigma collaborated with the Client to define technology performance, potential partner profiles, and assessment criteria.  NineSigma then used its multi-faceted Targeted Search capabilities to rapidly identify technologies and partners that matched the outlined assessment criteria.  Over 40 responses to the Request were received.  NineSigma met with the Client on a weekly basis to help them rank the responses and organize teleconferences to immediately connect with the top candidates.

The Impact:

The Client was able to identify seven companies with interesting formulations and entered into agreements with four companies to test their formulations.

go to top