The world is getting warmer. Beyond the impact on the natural environment this also means people must live and work in ever warmer conditions, and this leads to significant reductions in productivity and potential impediments to economic growth. The Seeker, a market-leader in performance apparel, is seeking unique and innovative passive or active cooling technologies that can be applied to apparel and fabric/textile applications. Solutions must result in the reduction of core body temperature of the wearer.
This Theoretical Challenge requires only a written proposal.
“It’s too hot to work today!”
For many of us, an exclamation like the above is a way of giving vent to our annoyance at the occasional inconveniences of the hottest months of the year. For millions of workers across the world, it is a sign of distress. For many economies, it is a threat to their productivity.
The phenomenon of heat stress refers to heat received in excess of that which the body can tolerate without physiological impairment. Heat stress affects, above all, outdoor workers such as those engaged in agriculture and on construction sites. It is a serious problem for a large proportion of the world’s 1 billion agricultural workers and 66 million textile workers (many of whom have to work inside factories and workshops without air conditioning), and for workers employed, inter alia, in refuse collection, emergency repair work, transport, tourism and sports.
Temperatures exceeding 39°C can kill. But even where there are no fatalities, such temperatures can leave many people unable to work or able to work only at a reduced rate. Some groups of workers are more vulnerable than others because they suffer the effects of heat stress at lower temperatures. Older workers, in particular, have lower physiological resistance to high levels of heat. Yet they represent an increasing share of workers – a natural consequence of population ageing.
-- From “Working on a warmer planet: The impact of heat stress on labour productivity and decent work” by the International Labour Organization (2019)
The economic impact of a warming world and increased heat stress on worker productivity is substantial. One approach to combating heat stress in people is through smarter adaptive apparel and fabric/textile applications. The Seeker is interested in innovative and unique technologies to provide passive or active cooling for apparel that results in the reduction of core body temperature of the wearer. Submissions should present potential solutions, that if applied, would enable people to work for extended periods in high temperature environments, or more easily transition between high and moderate temperature environments (for example, from outdoors into vehicles or buildings).
This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted. The Challenge award will be contingent upon theoretical evaluation of the proposal by the Seeker.
To receive an award, the Solvers will have to transfer to the Seeker their exclusive Intellectual Property (IP) rights to the solution. However, the Seeker will be willing to consider a licensing agreement for a partial award if exclusive IP cannot be transferred by the Solver.
Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on 21-Mar-2022.
Late submissions will not be considered.
What is InnoCentive?
InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.
What is an InnoCentive Theoretical IP Transfer Challenge?
An InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge builds upon an idea but is not yet a proof of concept. A solution to a Theoretical Challenge will solidify the Solver's concept with detailed descriptions, specifications and requirements necessary to bringing a good idea closer to becoming an actual product or service.
This Challenge is a Theoretical IP Transfer Challenge, meaning that Solvers must transfer all rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) for which they are awarded. Solvers that do not win retain the rights to their solution after the evaluation period is complete. The Seeker retains no rights to any IP not awarded.