After a 12-month process, Electrolux has concluded its first sustainability-focused open innovation program with all five partners delivering feasible business solutions to take forward.
The open innovation ‘Booster Program’ was launched in 2018 to find cutting-edge solutions from external players such as start-ups, SMEs and university spin-offs. While the program offers Electrolux the opportunity to connect with some of the best thinkers in the market, it also gives the partners an opportunity to work alongside a global company and gain access to Electrolux’s deep engineering expertise, R&D resources and manufacturing network.
The five partners for this year’s program, who were selected via a pitch process in late 2019 by the Electrolux Open Innovation team, have spent 12 months working alongside dedicated project teams at Electrolux to turn their initial solutions into sustainable products, technologies and processes that address specific challenges related to Electrolux company strategy.
With Electrolux setting ambitious targets to help consumers choose more sustainable products that improve their everyday life and the health of the planet, sustainability was prioritized as a key theme for this year’s program to accelerate innovation in this area.
As this year’s program kicked off pre-Covid 19, a boot camp was held in November 2019 where the partners – coming from as far afield as California, North America and Tel Aviv, Israel – got to meet and discuss expectations at the Electrolux Innovation Factory in Porcia, Italy. This was followed by a mid-way demo day in the summer to make sure projects were on track and workable.
Crucially, by October, all five projects were able to deliver an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for a digital demo day.
Here’s a summary of the projects:
Waste-to-Value: Roteax designed and applied a circular cycle to turn our plastic waste into pallets to be re-used in our processes, leveraging on their revolutionary moulding machine.
Microplastics capture: PlanetCare developed a filter that can be embedded in washing machines to stop the release of microfibers into the wastewater system by physically capturing them.
Smart Fridges: PowerIQ investigated a cloud-based energy management system that would enable our fridges to reduce consumption during peak hours and utility companies to manage their networks better.
Sustainable Packaging: PulpWorks developed a compostable, all-pulp-and-paper alternative to Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS) plastic packaging for two selected use cases.
Acoustic Perception: innSono developed a scalable, AI-driven sound quality system to assess acoustics perceptions and predict the sound quality of either a full product or components.
CEO and Co-Founder of innSono Kristina Paralidis said of the collaboration: “It was a fantastic experience to share our expertise with Electrolux and to have the opportunity to accelerate innovation as partners. Our participation helped us optimize our product, develop competitive advantage, and gain access to Electrolux market knowledge. We are really proud of our final MVP, which is in our opinion a game-changer that delivers objective, automated estimation of perceptual sound quality.”
Vice President Strategy and Innovation David Cronström added: “Electrolux has a 100-year history of innovation and a strong commitment to sustainability. Open innovation enables us to connect to innovators across the world that share our vision to shape living for the better, together. When you begin an Open Innovation project, you never know if the collaboration will work out for both partners. So I’m delighted that all five collaborations were very successful and delivered blueprints that prove both technical feasibility and potential business value. We are on a journey of continuous learning and innovation and I am looking forward to have some of these collaborations move to the next level”.
Watch this space. The next search for partners to join our challenges will be launched shortly.