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16th February 2017, Kelheim

Kelheim Fibres recognises ideas for innovative use of 100% cellulose fibres

Viscose fibre manufacturer Kelheim Fibres has broken new ground in innovation management by organising a competition for new ideas on the subject 100% cellulose fibres – re-thought. The competition was part of the start-up contest Plan B – Biomass. Business. Bavaria, organised by Bio-Campus Straubing under the patronage of the Bavarian State Secretary for Economic Affairs FranzJosef Pschierer.

“In R&D we don’t just rely on receiving ideas for new products or new applications in our dreams, but we proceed in a focussed and methodical way,” said Walter Roggenstein, R&D Manager at Kelheim Fibres. “For us, this competition in cooperation with Biocampus Straubing was an attempt to boost our innovation process and to open it to beyond the boundaries of our company.”

Broad spectrum of ideas

Kelheim was extremely pleased with the results of this experiment, particularly with the broad spectrum of ideas. More than 20 different proposals, ranging from very simple, clearly defined application ideas to visionary future products, were submitted. Equally varied were the people behind these ideas, from school pupils to experienced tradespeople to academics, the company reports.

The awards ceremony (from left to right): Walter Roggenstein (R&D manager, Kelheim Fibres), the finalists the Deinböck family, Dr Jörg Dörrstein, Dr Albert Solleder, Christina Pop (representing Dr Pettrak), Sebastian Kehrer and Matthew North (Commercial Director, Kelheim Fibres). © Barbara Rötzer

“The competition was not only about specific ideas – we have seen completely new conceptual approaches and we have gained contacts in industry sectors and application areas formerly unknown to us. And by opening the process to outsiders we could avoid the risk of operational blindness,” commented Matthew North, Commercial Director at Kelheim Fibres.

Winner

The winner of the competition, Dr Jürgen Pettrak from Straubinger Entwässerung und Reinigung (local wastewater authorities), was rewarded with prize of EUR 2,500. His idea was the use of filters made of functionalised viscose fibres as a fourth clarification stage in wastewater treatment plants, to filter out the increasing amount of endocrine substances found in wastewater.

These endocrine substances find their way into the water due to the growing use of drugs in human medicine, as well as in large-scale farming and, if not filtered out, they may finally affect our genetic material.

Environmentally responsible solutions

Kelheim Fibres was also excited by the other proposals, which concern the use of viscose fibres in environmentally sound yet at the same time tailor-made wound care, in semi-finished products with printed electrical circuits, eco-friendly felt pens, panels of pressed straw for construction applications and an idea for a regional marketing for regionally produced fibre products. These ideas were awarded further prizes.

“We will not put these great suggestions away in a drawer,” said Walter Roggentein. “I am convinced that some of these ideas will lead to projects and finally to new products. For us, the success of this competition will lead to a further opening-up of our innovation process – on the inside as well as on the outside.”

www.kelheim-fibres.com

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