Program Requirements Background

NORCAT Open Innovation Challenge

Presented by NORCAT in partnership with:

Vale Logo

2020 Open Innovation Challenge


The NORCAT Open Innovation Challenge serves to identify and engage innovative companies with potential technology solutions to solve some of the most challenging issues facing the global mining industry. Through open innovation and collaboration, this initiative aims to further the acceleration, adoption and deployment of emerging technologies that are poised to transform the mining sector.

In partnership with Vale, NORCAT has been tasked to scout, engage and support innovative companies with potential technology solutions for three specific challenges. For each challenge, qualified companies must have the capacity and confidence to develop, demonstrate and deploy a proof-of-concept solution within one of Vale’s Sudbury operations within a four (4) month timeframe.

Each of the challenges represents real areas of concern AS identified by Vale. We are hoping for creative ideas, concepts and technologies that will not only help Vale, but also will support other mining companies to ensure the ongoing safety and productivity of their workforce. Application are open from September 21st to October 16th, 2020.

Open Innovation Challenge Program

Eligible Applicants / Ventures can be:

  • In the ideation/research phase, a start-up, or a small to medium business.
  • Based anywhere in the world, but need to be available to demonstrate and deploy your proof-of-concept solution in one of Vale’s operations located in the City of Greater Sudbury.
  • Able to commit approximately 12 hours a week from November 2nd, 2020 to February 26th, 2021 to work with Vale technical experts on developing, preparing and testing your proof-of-concept solution.
  • Willing, able and excited by the potential of Vale issuing a purchase order deploy the solution broadly across their operations.

Challenge Abstracts

Challenge 1 - Excessive Water / Run of Material in Underground Mines

Excessive Water / Run of Material in Underground Mines

Uncontrolled water in an underground mining environment can be a significant hazard. We look to identify a technology solution that can both identify and mitigate the conditions that lead to the risk of the run of material.

Challenge 2 - Acid Train Car Loading

Acid Train Car Loading

Smelter/sulphuric acid is a common chemical by-product of the smelting process. Given the risks associated with human exposure, we look to identify a technology solution that can ultimately remove the worker from harm's way.

Challenge 3 - Underground Operator Alertness

Underground Operator Alertness

Underground operator alertness is of utmost importance to ensure the safety of all mineworkers. We look to identify a technology solution that can assess and monitor underground equipment operators with the intent of identifying and resolving cognitive impairments, fatigue and/or distracted behaviour.

Timeline & Important Dates

As part of the NORCAT Open Innovation Challenge, Vale is seeking potential solutions that can be identified, developed and deployed as a Proof-of-Concept within a four (4) month time frame within one of its Sudbury operations. Vale is looking for creative ideas, concepts and technologies that will not only help its own operations, but can be shared amongst mining companies around the world.

For qualified ventures, we will be offering a webinar and selection interview to connect you with the Vale in-house subject matter expert(s) that will assist you by providing additional insight and help answer any questions you have. We anticipate selecting and working with one to two ventures per challenge area during the Proof-of-Concept Boot Camp.

Selected companies that are selected to participate in the Proof-of-Concept Boot Camp will be provided a Non-Disclosure Agreement to protect and validate your ownership of your intellectual property.

  • Challenge Launch

    Sept 21, 2020

    Applications for the NORCAT Open Innovation Challenge open September 21st, 2020. Ventures that believe they have a potential technology solution to one of the three challenges can apply below by completing the application form.

  • Application Deadline

    October 16, 2020

    Applications must be submitted by October 16th, 2020. No late applications will be accepted. If you have any questions about your application, please reach out to openinnovation@norcat.org.

  • Successful Ventures Chosen

    October 30, 2020

    Selected ventures will be invited to participate in a web-meeting with Vale and NORCAT representatives to better understand the proposed solution and address any questions related to the requirements of the Proof-of-Concept Boot Camp.

  • Proof-of-Concept Boot Camp

    November 2, 2020

    Successful companies will connect with Vale technical experts, field resources and NORCAT Mentors to support the development of your Proof-of-Concept solution.

  • In-the-field Product Testing

    January 12, 2021

    Once a successful Proof-of-Concept product is developed, ventures will commence in-the-field product testing within one of Vale’s Greater Sudbury operations to validate the effectiveness of the technology solution.

  • Potential Procurement & Rollout

    February 26, 2021

    The purpose of the NORCAT Open Innovation Challenge aims to connect and broker a professional relationship between you, your venture and Vale that could lead to potential procurement opportunities within Vale and other mining companies.

What We Offer

Mentorship

Successful companies will connect with Vale technical experts, field resources and NORCAT Mentors to support the development of your Proof-of-Concept solution.

Paid Testing

The company chosen for the test and Proof-of-Concept phase will be given a budget to work and execute their trials.

Potential Procurement & Rollout

The purpose of the NORCAT Open Innovation Challenge aims to connect and broker a professional relationship between you, your venture and Vale that could lead to potential procurement opportunities within Vale and other mining companies.


Frequently Asked Questions

No. At the time of application, ventures are not required to be a registered business. However, if you are fortunate enough to be enrolled in the Proot-of-Concept Boot Camp, we would encourage you to think about formalizing your legal structure.
Yes. If your venture has a diverse set of proposed technology solutions to address one (or more) of the challenges, feel free to submit them.
Yes. However, given these challenges are quite different, we don’t anticipate this being practical.
No. It is not possible to make changes to any submitted application form.
No. However, we would encourage you to balance clarity and brevity with ensuring you provide enough insight that our review committee can understand your venture and the application of your proposed solution.
Ventures can be at the ideation/research stage, a start-up, or a small to medium business. Companies with revenues >$50M are not eligible to apply to the Open Innovation Challenge.
The application deadline is October 16th, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. EST. No late applications will be accepted.
Ventures that are selected to participate in the Proof-of-Concept Boot Camp will be provided with a Non-Disclosure Agreement to protect and validate your ownership of your intellectual property. Vale will not have any responsibility over any legal issues surrounding the intellectual property related to third parties.
Submitted applications will be reviewed by NORCAT and Vale technical experts. For qualified ventures, we will be offering a webinar and selection interview to connect you with the Vale in-house subject matter expert(s) that will assist you by providing additional insight and help answer any questions you have.
Yes. Ventures can be based anywhere in the world but must be available to demonstrate and deploy the proof-of-concept solution in one of Vale’s operations in the City of Greater Sudbury. Please consider COVID-19 travel restrictions when applying.
The company chosen for the test and Proof-of-Concept phase will be given a budget to work and execute their trials.
No. There is no cash prize for selected ventures, however, the venture will have access to NORCAT Mentors, Vale technical experts, field resources and a budget to work and execute trials. The value for participating is really based on the potential procurement opportunities within Vale and other mining companies.