Open Innovation Challenge

Career News
September 26, 2022

Open Innovation Challenge

Are you a student? start-up? or you work at a small or large company? Evonik's Business Line Silica is hosting a challenge, you can enter! In this challenge, Evonik is looking for new innovative ideas to expand the field of application of special cellulose particles and to enter new markets with this product.


Challenge Sponsor:

Evonik is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. The company is active in more than 100 countries around the world and generated sales of €15 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of €2.38 billion in 2021. Evonik goes far beyond chemistry to create innovative, profitable and sustainable solutions for customers. More than 33,000 employees work together for a common purpose: We want to improve life, today and tomorrow.

We, the Silica business line of Evonik, are the globally leading silica producer and offer a broad portfolio of particle design solutions. We give our customers essential technology that works from the inside out and therefore offer a broad portfolio of particles (e. g. precipitated silica, fumed silica, and metal oxides) for demanding applications in different markets.


Product Description:

Special Cellulose particles consist of 90% native cellulose and 10% binder and are therefore a highly porous natural material.

The properties of special cellulose particles are:

  • Spherical particles with narrow particle size distribution
  • Porous agglomerate
  • Mechanically stable in dry form
  • Smooth or rough surface possible
  • High Loading/release capacity: 1-1.2 g(oil)/g(cellulose)
  • Flowability unloaded: very good (angle of repose of approx. 30°)
  • Flowability loaded: ok (angle of repose of approx. 45° with 15 w% plant oil loading)
  • Bulk density: 300 kg/m3
  • Residual humidity: 6 w%
  • Average particle size (dv50): 180 µm
  • Specific surface area: 10 m2/g
  • Particles disintegrate in water


Typical Applications:

Special Cellulose particles are used as absorbent agent (carrier) in pharma applications.

Further application fields of special cellulose particles are food/personal care formulations for e.g., controlled release, taste masking, protection or increased impact/functionality of aromas/flavors and additives. The particle system can also be used in other applications such as oral care, 3D printing, agriculture, household care or coating additives.

Ideas for pharma application are out of scope of this challenge.



Our special cellulose particles are natural, biodegradable and microplastic-avoiding carrier materials that help processors to protect, utilize or transform their ingredients with no compromise on performance and processability.

In this challenge, Evonik wants to experience new innovative ideas to broaden the application field of special cellulose particles and enter new markets with this product beyond pharma application.

Are you able to answer any of the following key questions? Then do not hesitate to participate:

Which new applications (pharma excluded) could be addressed with special cellulose particles as it is (no modification to its current performance properties or manufacturing process)?

In which applications someone would need round, natural materials as absorbent?

Which use cases benefit from a high loading/release capacity of a natural absorbents?

How can special cellulose particles support the road of sustainability?


Target groups: Students, start-ups, companies (small & large), consultants, universities…

Idea submission: Each submission should cover certain parameters that are key for their success:

  • Overview of the Idea and related needs which are addressed by the idea
  • Detailed description of the technical idea (addressing at least one of key questions).
  • Drawings and examples as well as references for comparable system or proposed solution/ approach
  • Technical and/or commercials benefits and limitations of your solution
  • Potential collaboration partners for development, scaling up, testing and implementation
  • Key market opportunities for the idea


Assessment criteria:

The evaluation criteria are defined as follows (ranking from 0 – 10, all criteria have the same weight):

  • Creativity: The proposal is unknown to Evonik so far in the way that it shows a high degree of creativity and represents a new approach for Evonik from the application side
  • Probability of technical and commercial success: There is a high chance of technical and commercial success to be expected if the proposed concept can be successfully realized.
  • Quality of idea proposal: The idea proposal is well explained and contains clear description of what is planned to be done, how and with which resources (for instance: project plan draft, responsibilities, funding, others)
  • Form and volume: accepted all forms of contributions up to 3 MB (videos, documents, presentations, etc.)


Application deadline: Nov 21st, 2022.

Announcement of the winning concepts: 21 days after submission deadline

Awards: Evonik will award a total of 5T€ between the three most innovative concepts and invite the awarded teams for an idea pitch and discuss a potential cooperation in the field with the Silica team.


How to participate: Submit your ideas on our official challenge website!