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Challenge GC3 Challenge: Developing New Preservatives for Personal Care & Household Products

GC3 Challenge: Developing New Preservatives for Personal Care & Household Products

STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 208
Posted: Apr 24 2017
Challenge ID: 9933978
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Preservatives are substances that are added to products to prevent them from spoiling. These chemicals work by retarding microbial growth and preventing product degradation. In addition to being used in foods, preservatives are added to household and personal care products. Due to concerns about the safety of some preservatives that have been in wide use, and the impact of repeated contact with these chemicals on human health, the Seekers desire new and effective preservatives or preservative boosters with improved environmental health and safety profiles for use in personal care and household products.

The Seekers are looking for submissions on:

  1. Broad spectrum or single action chemical agents on gram-positive bacteria, gram-negative bacteria, yeast, and mold
  2. Preservative boosters (optimizers or potentiators)/multi-functional ingredients that have a primary non-preserving function, yet enhance antimicrobial efficacy

The Seekers expect to award 3 – 5 cash prizes from a prize pool of $175,000, with a minimum single prize award of $25,000. No awards are guaranteed unless the submissions meet or exceed the criteria.

The Seekers have a preference for broad spectrum solutions and intend to award higher amounts to submissions that demonstrate activity addressing two or more of the following: gram positive bacteria, gram negative bacteria, mold, yeast.

Up to 5 finalists will be invited to present their technologies at a meeting in February or March 2018 in the United States (with funding provided to offset some travel costs) and to network with representatives from consumer product companies and preservative suppliers.

All Solvers who submit to this Challenge will gain visibility and receive feedback on their technologies. A Solver does not have to be a finalist in order to be afforded these opportunities. Furthermore, companies (listed below) may be interested in partnering on joint development of, investment in, and/or licensing promising technologies. 

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires written documentation and experimental proof-of-concept data.


Preservatives provide the critical function of keeping products safe for consumer use over their shelf life. Regulatory bans and restrictions as well as consumer, non-governmental organization, retailer, brand, and supplier pressure to eliminate the use of certain preservatives of concern are reducing the current palette of preservatives available to formulators of personal care and household products. This may lead to overexposure to a small number of preservatives leading to potential skin sensitization, allergic reactions, developed resistance by microorganisms, and other adverse effects. Therefore, the Seekers desire new, safe, and effective preservatives or preservative boosters for use in their personal care and household products with the ultimate goal of accelerating the development and commercialization of these alternatives.

The submission to the Challenge should include the following:

  1. An explanation of the proposed solution addressing specific Technical Requirements presented in the Detailed Description of the Challenge. This should be accompanied by a well-articulated rationale supported by data and the literature, if available.
  2. Experimental proof-of-concept data obtained as outlined in the Detailed Description of the Challenge (and/or delivery of preservative(s) if requested by the Seekers).  
  3. Submissions will be evaluated on a rolling basis. The Seekers will determine which solutions merit further review of their efficacy and safety. Solvers will be notified if and when to ship their sample(s).  

The Challenge award is contingent upon theoretical evaluation and experimental review of the submitted solutions by the Seekers.

To receive an award, Solvers will not have to transfer, or license, their exclusive intellectual property (IP) rights to the Seekers. However, by entering, you agree that during the open phase and evaluation period of this competition, you will not enter into any arrangement to transfer or license the IP rights to any of the Seekers. All submissions will be treated as the confidential information of the Solvers. See the Challenge-Specific Agreement for details.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on August 24, 2017. 

Late submissions will not be considered.


The Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (GC3) is a cross sectoral, business-to-business network of companies and other organizations working collaboratively to accelerate the application of green chemistry across industry sectors and supply chains. Established in 2005, the mission for the GC3 is to make green chemistry standard practice throughout the economy, contributing to innovation, improved public health, and protection of the environment. The GC3 defines green chemistry as the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances through their lifecycle. For more information visit

The companies listed below are financial sponsors of this competition. There are two categories of sponsorship with different roles for each.

Category 1 Sponsors are consumer product formulators and other organizations seeking to encourage new preservative market entrants; were involved in designing the competition; will review submissions and results of performance validation and safety screening; will participate in the judging and selection of finalists; and will be present at the event for finalists. 

Category 1 Sponsors are Babyganics, Beautycounter, Beiersdorf, Colgate-Palmolive, Environmental Defense Fund, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Kao USA, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Method – People Against Dirty, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Reckitt Benckiser (RB), SC Johnson, Target, Unilever, and Walmart.

Category 2 Sponsors are preservative manufacturers/suppliers that are interested in opportunities for joint development, licensing, and/or entering into other mutually beneficial business relationships with Solvers. Category 2 Sponsors provided input into the competition design, but will not participate in judging submissions or selecting finalists. Category 2 Sponsors will attend the event for finalists. Submissions (from finalists and non-finalists) will be provided to Category 2 Sponsors after the judging is complete. 

Category 2 Sponsors are Dow Microbial Control, Lonza, Schülke, Symrise, and Thor.

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 Ideation™ Challenge?

An InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge is a broad question formulated to obtain access to new ideas, similar to a global brainstorm for producing a breakthrough idea or market survey which may include ideas for a new product line, a new commercial application for a current product, or even a viral marketing idea to recruit new customers. Ideation™ Challenge submissions are typically about two written pages, and Seekers receive a non-exclusive, perpetual license to use all submissions.

In an Ideation™ Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own
  • Submit third party information that they have the right to use and further the authority to convey that right and the right to use and develop derivative works to Seekers
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use

Solvers should not reveal any confidential information in their submissions. Often the Ideation™ Challenge will be followed by one or more of the other three Challenge types to further develop the ideas and gain Intellectual Property protection when the concept has been well-defined.

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