NEW YORK, June 29, 2012-Scientists Without Borders, in partnership with The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences and DSM's not-for-profit nutrition think tank, Sight and Life, today announced an open innovation challenge and incentive prize seeking innovative ideas for more sustainable packaging for micronutrient powders (MNPs), small sachets of essential vitamins and minerals. MNPs are one of the most widely-distributed and cost-effective nutrition interventions in resource-poor settings; hundreds of millions are distributed a year in developing countries, emergency settings, and refugee camps. The Copenhagen Consensus 2012 Expert Panel recently cited interventions involving micronutrient supplementation as the most worthy of investment because of their high cost-benefit ratio in addressing global malnutrition.
MNPs target "hidden hunger," which refers to the deficiency of essential micronutrients, such as Vitamin A, B-vitamins, zinc, and iron, in a person's diet, even where sufficient caloric intake might exist. Hidden hunger affects an estimated 2 billion people around the world and is a critical global health and development issue. Inadequate micronutrient intake results in significant impairment of mental and physical development in children (an estimated 40%-60% of infants in the developing world do not get the micronutrients they need) and contributes to the rising prevalence of chronic disease later in life.
Currently, MNPs are packaged in a composite foil packet composed of aluminum, PET, and polyethylene, which contains 1g of powered vitamins and minerals. The current packaging is used in order to protect the powder from degradation due to the harsh environmental conditions that they are used in, including moisture, heat, humidity, and UV light. However, these types of packets are difficult to recycle, destroy, or repurpose due to their composition and the conditions under which they are commonly distributed-refugee camps or environments with extremely limited waste disposal systems. Due to the large number of MNP sachets distributed, a large volume of collateral waste is generated in the low-resource communities where MNPs are most critical, creating an additional challenge. New and innovative approaches to packaging or delivery of MNPs could therefore dramatically reduce the ecological impact of MNPs while also potentially increasing their availability to the world's most vulnerable populations in need of MNP interventions.
The challenge will run for 3 months and will be administered by NineSigma, the leading innovation partner to organizations worldwide. NineSigma will feature the challenge on their new open innovation social media platform, NineSightsTM, which connects innovators of all sizes with the resources and relationships needed to drive value. An independent panel of leading experts will be convened by Scientists Without Borders to select the challenge winners.
"DSM's not-for-profit nutrition think tank, Sight and Life, is excited to partner with Scientists Without Borders and The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science to find more innovative and sustainable approaches to tackle the global problem of hidden hunger," said Dr. Klaus Kraemer, Director of Sight and Life. "By sponsoring this incentive prize, to challenge innovators from diverse backgrounds to develop novel packaging and distribution models, we hope to continue to expand our programs to reach millions of people, improve their lives, and have a positive impact on the environment."
"This partnership exemplifies Scientists Without Borders's unique, open, and innovation-driven model for leveraging science and technology to surface and accelerate solutions to the most urgent development challenges," said Shaifali Puri, Executive Director of Scientists Without Borders. "As the Copenhagen Consensus 2012 concluded, micronutrient supplementation is one of the best investments to improve human health and well-being, so to find effective solutions for this challenge is going to require multiple ideas from multiple different minds and we're excited to contribute to that with this challenge."
"Stimulating research and innovation in nutrition science is one of the main objectives of The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science. We are thrilled to support this challenge to encourage scientists and development professionals to think outside the box and come up with solutions that can lead to more efficient, equitable delivery of effective nutrition interventions," said Dr. Mandana Arabi, Director of The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences.
To view this challenge and learn more, please visit: www.ninesights.com/groups/scientists-without-borders.
About Scientists Without Borders
Scientists Without Borders, a public/private partnership led by the New York Academy of Sciences, is a web-based collaborative community that generates and advances innovative and effective science and technology-based solutions to the world's most pressing global development challenges. Scientists Without Borders's unique model leverages a free online platform to connect a worldwide group of cross-disciplinary, multi-sector users to develop and openly share concrete and effective solutions to these challenges. To learn more about Scientists Without Borders, visit www.scientistswithoutborders.org.
About The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences, in partnership with The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation, Inc., established The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science to create a coordinated effort to support and disseminate nutrition science research. The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science is dedicated to advancing nutrition science research and knowledge, mobilizing communities, and translating this work into the field. The Institute is generating a coordinated network across sectors, disciplines, and geographies that promotes open communication; encourages exchange of information and resources; nurtures the next generation of scientists; and affects community intervention design and public policy changes. Visit us online at www.nyas.org/nutrition.
About Sight and Life
Sight and Life is the not-for-profit nutrition think tank of DSM. We care about the world's most vulnerable populations, and exist to help improve their nutritional status. Acting as their advocates, we guide original nutrition research, disseminate its findings and facilitate dialog to bring about positive change. We believe that the right mix of funding, knowledge, technology and policy will lead to better health. We work through advocacy and leadership to address societal changes affecting dietary quality. We act responsibly to disseminate information that reflects current knowledge and evolving scientific evidence. We also aim to promote partnerships that are able to solve outstanding problems. For further information please visit www.sightandlife.org.
NineSigma engages organizations with external innovation resources and enables them to share knowledge to accelerate the innovation cycle, whether they are in the private, public, government or social sectors. Their proprietary and collaborative process has produced billions of dollars in tangible value. Companies such as Kraft, Philips, L'Oreal, Unilever, Denso and Suntory utilize NineSigma's Open Innovation services to solve immediate challenges, fill product pipelines, integrate new knowledge into their organizations, close development gaps, and improve financial performance. NineSigma has the largest open global network of solution providers and an extensive database of existing solutions that spans all industries and technical disciplines. Our team integrates professionals from a variety of fields, including business leaders, innovation consultants and Ph.D.-level scientists. Learn more at www.ninesigma.com or join our LinkedIn group at http://linkd.in/NineSigma.
About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at www.nyas.org.