Published: October 31, 2023

Tapojärvi Innovation Challenge invited students to develop new business opportunities promoting circular economy

Innovation Challenge is a competition for master’s students founded by Tapojärvi with the aim to recruit new talent and gain modern ideas for the productisation of industrial side streams. This year, the competition was held for the third time.

The competition received applications from a total of 29 teams from 22 universities. The teams, totalling 71 students, represented 43 different nationalities. After the prequalification stage, five teams advanced to the final round and had the opportunity to present their circular business innovations to the distinguished jury on Friday 27 October.

Tapojärvi awarded the winning team EUR 10,000 and the first and second runners-up EUR 3,000 and EUR 2,000, respectively. In addition, the finalist teams were offered an opportunity to develop their ideas further together with Tapojärvi.

“This was an exciting and educational experience. It was wonderful to be heard as a student and notice that we can really impact the environment through our work and create something innovative,” commented Belgian student Simon Coen, member of the winning team Team React, after the competition.

Team React’s idea was to combine fly ash, which is a forestry by-product, and wood to produce activated carbon to purify air and water.

After the competition, the team intends to discuss the subject with Tapojärvi and plan the future of the project together.

“The win increases my faith in my own work and the discovery of new solutions,” rejoices Brazilian Gabriel Avila.

“By acting as an example, Tapojärvi has demonstrated that ‘circular economy’ is not only a trendy marketing word but an impactful practical concept. It has been a delight to follow how the company engages systematically in sustainable business activities in line with its values,” Juliette Bourden, French member of the winning team, praises Tapojärvi.

In addition to the expertly organised competition, Bourden appreciated the opportunity to learn about the operations of Tapojärvi’s concentration plants at the Outokumpu site in Tornio.

“We saw in practice how industrial by-products can be utilised.”

The first runner-up of the competition was Team Resicler whose idea was to produce an innovative filler material from tailings and utilise it, for example, in the dam structures of the Hannukainen mine. The team had also developed a method to recover metals from tailings.

Team Innovative IQ came third in the competition. The team had developed a new material from industrial by-products for the manufacture of products. Innovative IQ had produced a pilot object from the innovative material and presented it in the competition.

“Next, we will return to the laboratory and do more research. We intend to contact Tapojärvi in the future and hope to continue our cooperation to develop this solution further. Let´s keep it sustainable,” says Yang Yangyiwei, member of Innovative IQ.

The final of Tapojärvi Innovation Challenge was streamed live on Tapojärvi’s website and Vimeo channel. The circular-economy-themed final gained 1,615 views. The final was followed most actively in England, Finland, and Germany.

The crowd favourite poll gained a total of 1,300 votes with England being the top voter. The team that received the most votes from the public was Team Tailoop from the Imperial College London in the Royal School of Mines.

“This competition fits our strategy well – our aim is to be pioneers in the field and face the future. While doing so, we can also promote circular economy and even find new ways to save natural resources,” says Mari Pilventö, Tapojärvi’s acting CEO.