18 October 2022

Carbon Reduction Innovation on show at Innovandi Open Challenge ‘Demo Day’

  • Demo Day is culmination of Innovandi Open Challenge (launched in 2021) showcasing key results and progress of collaboration between chosen start-ups and leading cement and concrete companies at major innovation event in Düsseldorf
  • The first-ever Innovandi Open Challenge matched “brightest global start-ups” with cement and concrete manufactures – six starts-ups from around the world were selected to form consortia with GCCA member companies
  • 2023 Innovandi Open Challenge will open in the New Year for start-up applications

(Düsseldorf: 18 October 2022) The Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) has today revealed the latest results of its first ever Innovandi Open Challenge, its industry accelerator that partnered six start-ups from around the world with GCCA members to develop and commercialise new decarbonisation technologies.

The two-day ‘Demo Day’ event took place in Düsseldorf, Germany and showcased the positive progress made by the six consortia during the Open Challenge, which began last year, included presentations from:

  • Carbon BioCapture – based in the USA, Carbon BioCapture’s patented technology for CO2 capture uses microalgae and requires no pre-treatment of industrial gases. It is being supported by Cementos Argos, CEMEX, CRH and Holcim.
  • CarbonOrO – based in the Netherlands, CarbonOrO uses bi-phasic amine with a lower cost of capture. It is being supported by CEMEX, Holcim, SCG, Titan Cement, UltraTech Cement and Votorantim Cimentos.
  • Carbon Upcycling Technologies – based in Canada, Carbon Upcycling Technologies chemically activates and captures CO2 within solid waste materials to produce a range of supplementary cementitious materials, to create low carbon cement and concrete. It is being supported by Cementos Argos, CEMEX, CRH, Holcim, Shree Cement and Taiheiyo.
  • Coomtech – based in the UK, Coomtech has developed a low energy, low cost drying technology using managed turbulent air, creating kinetic energy to remove moisture. It is being supported by Buzzi Unicem, CRH, JSW Cement and UltraTech Cement.
  • Fortera – based in the USA, Fortera’s technology captures CO2 emissions from cement plants, combining it with calcium oxide to make reactive calcium carbonate. It is being supported by Cementos Argos, CRH, Holcim, JSW Cement, Taiheiyo Cement and Ultratech Cement.
  • MOF Technologies – based in the UK, it uses Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) to deliver energy-efficient CO2 removal at a fraction of the cost of conventional amines. It is being supported by Buzzi Unicem, Cementir Holding and Heidelberg Materials.

Under each consortium, the start-ups have been provided with tailored mentoring and key resources to accelerate their innovative technologies, which reduce or eliminate carbon throughout the cement and concrete value chain. Each is made up of a start-up company and includes between three and eight cement companies, with 16 GCCA member companies involved across the six innovation consortia.

The focus for this year’s Open Challenge was carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) and recycling in the value chain. CCUS includes a range of technologies and methods that “capture” CO2 from large sources – such as in industrial power generation. The CO2 is then either used on-site or compressed and transported to be used or stored elsewhere.

Thomas Guillot, GCCA Chief Executive, said:“Our Open Challenge has been a pioneering force and is already making significant progress in developing innovations that help us decarbonise faster.

“Innovation is crucial for our sector to achieve net zero and we recognise greater investment is essential to drive collaboration between start-ups and our industry to reach our net zero goal. Because of this, we are committing to permanently source the brightest start-ups to partner with in CCUS and we are launching a new Open Challenge in the New Year for other green innovations. We remain committed to supporting future generations, and we look forward to establishing more consortia that can unlock some of the world’s most complicated climate challenges in the future.”

Following the success of this year’s Open Challenge, the GCCA has committed to permanently look for potential carbon capture start-ups to collaborate with its members. CCUS is a key lever in its 2050 Roadmap for Net Zero Concrete, representing 36% of potential reductions.

At the event a new open challenge was announced which is set be launched in the early new year. It will look to pair start-ups with GCCA members in the field of low carbon concrete.

The Innovandi Open Challenge Demo Day started on 17th October at VDZ in Düsseldorf, with the main Demo Day presentations on 18th October live for attending guests and broadcast around the world. To find out more about the Innovandi programme please visit https://gccassociation.org/innovandi/.


Carbon Upcycling’s consortia has initially found that their CO2-enhanced materials achieved 20% to 100% improvement in strength activity when compared to the industry standard, as well as an ability to permanently mineralise CO2

The consortia led by CarbonOrO has found that its bi-phasic amine can save up to 43% savings on CO2 avoided costs and 32% on CO2 captured costs versus MEA and are in discussions to test the technology at a pilot level in the next phase.

Fortera’s technology demonstrated its ability to transform various limestone into reactive calcium carbonate and successfully tested it as a low CO2 ingredient in cement mixes for the consortia.

MOF Technologies is piloting its exciting next-generation carbon capture technology at a site proposed by the consortia to showcase its ultra-energy efficiency and potential to slash the cost of capture to less than EUR30 per tonneCO2.

Carbon BioCapture technology will evaluate different strains of microalgae for the consortium and try to reach a biomass productivity of 40g/m2/day. The pilot will be hosted at a site proposed by the consortium to test site.

Coomtech’s drying technology tested various different materials from the consortia and claims to use up to 75% less energy emissions and up to 75% less emissions.


Notes to editors:

About the Innovandi Open Challenge

Launched in 2021 the Open Challenge is a key part of the industry’s commitment to achieve net zero. This first-ever edition provides the platform for start-ups to drive innovation in the cement and concrete sectors. The Open Challenge focuses on developing carbon capture and calcination technologies, as well as improving carbon use in the construction supply chain and the recycling process of concrete. By partnering with the start-ups, member companies will provide them with their global resources and the support they need to grow and refine their product.

In addition to the formal consortia, the Open Challenge has led to two GCCA members (Cementos Argos and Holcim) supporting Minus Materials as industrial partners in the US Department of Energy ARPA-E grant for $3 million.

Supporting quotes


Carbon BioCapture – CEO Andrea Irarrázaval

“Carbon BioCapture® technology has the potential to revolutionize the carbon capture industry by economically transforming point-source carbon emissions into biomass at scale,” said Carbon BioCapture CEO Andrea Irarrázaval. “This funding ensures we can reach industrial scale to help new and existing partners achieve cost-effective and rapid emissions reductions.”

“Carbon BioCapture has the potential to turn CO2 from a harmful waste stream into useful biomass for the global economy,” said Alfredo Faubel, its CFO. “With scale and automation, Carbon BioCapture® technology stands to play a crucial role in decarbonizing some of the hardest-to-abate industries.”

CarbonOrO – Jan Hoppenbrouwers, Chief Sales and Marketing

“We realised an independent feasibility study, based on two typical cement flue gas cases.

The study showed significant savings per ton of CO2 captured for CarbonOrO’s technology versus industry standard, at a large scale. Thanks to the six members of the GCCA, who made this study possible and with whom we are now ready to start an industrial pilot. CarbonOrO is part of a consortium agreement with Cemex (Mexico), Titan (Greece), Holcim Group (Switzerland), Ultratech Cement Limited (India), Votorantim Cementos (Brazil) and Siam Cement Group (Thailand).”

Carbon Upcycling Technologies – Natalie Giglio, Senior Business Development Associate

“Carbon Upcycling has developed a novel technology that creates high-performance, CO2-enhanced cement replacements, also known as supplementary cementitious materials. Carbon Upcycling worked with the consortium to develop a thorough preliminary sample testing program. The consortium selected a total of 7 to test in Carbon Upcycling’s process, including natural pozzolans, aggregate fines, blast furnace slags, and pond ashes. The CO2-enhanced materials were then sent to third-party labs for further chemical, physical and performance analysis. Across all 7 samples, the results indicated that Carbon Upcycling’s process physically and chemically enhances the materials to achieve higher performance, in addition to capturing CO2. The next steps will be to conduct further concrete testing and work to optimise carbonation conditions to maximise CO2 mineralisation.”

Coomtech – Chris Every, Chief Commercial Officer & Founder

With the cementitious industries seeking to reduce energy use and emissions from their product manufacture and application a wide range of new materials are being tested as additives to the traditional limestone clinker/ Portland Cement base.  Coomtech radical new technology has offered the opportunity to cut energy used in preparation and drying of these materials by up to 75% over traditional thermal drying methods and consequently the similar reduction of emissions too. So far in the project testing of a range of an initial 8 products has begun.  Initial valuation of four new product samples provided by members plus a full trial of a further product will be completed for the Open Day on, October 2022.”

Fortera – Thierry Legrand, President Europe

“Fortera is a start-up based in California and Europe committed to low CO2 solutions. Fortera joined the Innovandi Open Challenge to test the transformation of different limestone feedstocks into Reactive Calcium Carbonate, a new low-CO2 binder. Tests have been successfully performed with limestone of different purities in blends with Portland Cement. Fortera Reactive Calcium Carbonate also brings benefits to ternary blends with Portland cement and calcined clay, it can be used as a pure binder for a maximum CO2 reduction.”

MOF Technologies – Conor Hamill, Co-CEO

“Having developed a carbon capture system that overcomes the traditional adoption barriers of energy and cost, we are thrilled to have had the opportunity to collaborate with GCCA members to bring our technology to the field. We are currently working with an innovative consortium to pilot our ultra-efficient Nuada technology which will validate its potential to provide the industry with a scalable low-cost carbon capture solution. We are delighted to continue working within the Innovandi Open Challenge and look forward to the exciting path ahead.”

Cement manufacturers

Cementir Holding
Jesper Sand Damtoft, Group Sustainability and R&D Director, Cementir Holding

Cementir Holding regards innovation as crucial for the implementation of new sustainable technologies. We are proud to be part of the Innovandi Open Challenge and look forward to contributing to a successful development of new businesses to support the green transformation.

Sergio Menéndez, President CEMEX Europe, Middle East and Asia

“Climate change is one of mankind’s most pressing challenges, and the industry must join forces to have a major decarbonisation impact.

CEMEX’s Future in Action includes all the actions the company is undertaking to build a path leading to true carbon neutrality.

GCCA’s Innovandi Open Challenge represents a great opportunity for the industry to support innovative ideas from start-ups to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

This initiative highlights how the GCCA and its member companies are determined to find an effective solution to climate change, by dedicating resources and expertise to accelerate the most promising and innovative technologies for a low-carbon economy.”

Siam Cement Group
Manasit Sarigaphuti – Research and Innovation Center Director

“Today, climate change is the world’s most urgent challenge we are facing. At SCG, we believe innovation is a key success factor that brings us toward Net Zero. The crisis can turn into opportunities. The Open Challenge Program comes at the right time with the perfect team and members. It is an incredible demonstration of talent, innovation and community.”

UltraTech Cement
Raju Goyal, Chief Technical Officer, UltraTech Cement

Innovandi Open Challenge – Demo Day, it is a great day for cement industry to experience dream is becoming reality in net zero journey. It provides an excellent opportunity for industry to work closely with start-ups to bring solution to decarbonisation and enhance the effort in meet the net zero commitment together and faster.”

About the Innovandi Research Network

Innovandi – the Global Cement and Concrete Research Network, is another world-class innovation programme formed by the GCCA in 2019 to accelerate global collaboration on cement and concrete innovation. It a large industry led consortium that ties together the cement and concrete industry with scientific institutions to drive and support global innovation with actionable research to address the climate challenge. The Innovandi Research Network is a truly global endeavour and includes 34 companies from across the cement and concrete industry, including cement and concrete manufacturers, admixture specialists, equipment and technology suppliers are now Innovandi Partners, along with 40 scientific institutions.

About the GCCA 

Launched in January 2018, the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) is dedicated to developing and strengthening the sector’s contribution to sustainable construction. The GCCA aims to foster innovation throughout the construction value chain in collaboration with industry associations as well as architects, engineers, and innovators. In this way, the association demonstrates how concrete solutions can meet global construction challenges and sustainable development goals while showcasing responsible industrial leadership in the manufacture and use of cement and concrete. The GCCA is headquartered in London, England. It complements and supports the work done by associations at the national and regional levels.

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