OCRT Innovation Awards unleash Organic Entrepreneurs

The 2016 Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT) Innovation Award has been won by Vienna-based entrepreneurs Bettina Steinbrugger and Annemarie Harant, founders of Erdbeerwoche (Strawberry Week). Their initiative aims to leverage the power of female consumers to make feminine hygiene products more healthy and sustainable, using only organic cotton

The annual Textile Exchange Organic Cotton Round Table Innovation Award in collaboration with Change Agency was held this year in Hamburg, Germany. The Awards attracted entrepreneurs with new ideas for all parts of the industry, ranging from a foundation to support organic cotton production, to innovative crop combinations, a new traceability system, to an “app” for farmers, and streamlining the way organic premiums reach farmers.

A panel of judges headed by Dr. Helen Crowley, Head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation at Kering, heard six finalists give their innovation pitches, many of them delivered live by video link to the OCRT from as far afield as India and the USA. All the finalists impressed the judges but after much discussion they decided to award the runner-up prize to the SmartFarming Cotton app and the first prize of USD 3000 to Erdbeerwoche.

Erdbeerwoche aims to raise awareness to encourage women to use their purchasing power to make feminine hygiene more sustainable. So far, more than 1 million conventional hygiene products have been replaced by organic cotton alternatives. The founders Bettina and Annemarie welcomed their award:

“Winning the Innovation Award means a lot to us as it is an important recognition for our work in breaking the taboo of menstruation and educating women about organic and sustainable feminine hygiene. We are convinced that with the support of the OCRT community we can give Strawberry Week another significant boost and reach even more women globally.”

The runner-up SmartFarming delivers a smartphone application for organic farmers with real-time, locally specific data and advice on inputs and farming practices. The app comes with a ‘management dashboard’ for cotton companies with field activities. SmartFarming’s Sven Drillenburg Lelijveld said:

“It was exciting for us to present the first results of the field test of the pilot version of the SmartFarming cotton app from Akola, India. Would this well-informed audience think we are on the right track to bring innovative and easy to use technology to thousands of Indian cotton farmers? By the end of the day we knew: yes, we are on track!”

The Organic Cotton Round Table is now in its fifth year. It acts as the platform for collective action and incubator for great ideas in the organic cotton community. In 2016 over 200 attendees joined the OCRT in Hamburg, Germany. In 2017 the OCRT takes place in the USA in Washington, DC, during the week of Oct. 9. A call for Innovation Awards submissions will be issued early in 2017 and after the success of Hamburg, the OCRT will continue a commitment to virtual presentation options.

For more information turn to the link below.

Wacker bestows researchers for new 3D printing process to manufacture silicone parts

Wacker Chemie AG conferred its “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award” on Dr. Frank Achenbach, Dr. Bernd Pachaly, Dr. Maximilian Peter and Dr. Ernst Selbertinger for their development of a new 3D printing process to produce silicone rubber parts. Previously, there was no mature industrial 3D printing technology available for silicones. That is why the process developed by the four WACKER researchers is considered a milestone in additive manufacturing. This year’s EUR 10000 innovation award, now in its eleventh year at WACKER, focused on process innovation.Wacker Award

The ACEO® technology developed by the researchers uses a drop- on-demand method. The printer head deposits tiny silicone droplets on a substrate. In this way, the workpiece is built up layer by layer. The silicone is formulated so that the droplets flow together before the curing process begins, activated by UV light. The silicone droplets and layers thus produce a homogeneous workpiece, which does not differ much from injection-moulded parts. With the aid of water-soluble support materials, it is also possible to make parts with complex geometries, such as overhang materials and internal lattice structures.

The automotive and aerospace industries are currently the main customer sectors for 3D. At the moment, additive manufacturing is growing most rapidly in medical applications. Bio-modelling and tailored, customer-specific geometries are particularly promising. In these types of applications, silicones can display their favourable properties particularly well. Silicones are heat resistant, flexible at low temperatures, transparent and biocompatible. They can furthermore be pigmented in any colour and have good damping properties.

WACKER offers services relating to 3D printing with silicone under the ACEO® brand. In a webshop, customers can upload their own designs and order 3D-printed silicone parts. These are then produced in the ACEO® print fab and shipped all around the world. Consultation and development services for the design and manufacture of silicone parts or assemblies round out the ACEO® team’s range of services.

Since 2005, the Munich-based chemical company has honoured employees’ outstanding R&D work at its annual research symposium. Named after the company’s founder, the EUR 10000 “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award” alternates between the categories of product innovation, process innovation and basic research. Next year, this group wide competition will focus on basic research.



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