The big winner of our fourth Cisco BeLux Innovation Challenge is River Cleanup EcoBin. The mission of this global network non-profit organisation is to prevent plastic from entering our oceans by cleaning up rivers, changing behaviours, and transforming organisations. They participated in Cisco’s innovation challenge to improve the collection of collected plastic.
Seven teams participated in the 2023 Innovation Challenge. The themes this year were IoT, mobility, and smart building. In addition to River Cleanup, Infrabel, KBC, Paradigm.Brussels, RTL, Service Public de Wallonie (winner of the 2023 Audience Award and our 2020 overall winner) and Trifinance also signed up for the annual three-day Co-Creation Journey.
During the first two days, the teams developed a solution to a business problem in their company. On the third day, they presented their project to a multi-member jury of industry experts, academics, and entrepreneurs. The winner will be guided to further professionalise and refine the test solution (Minimum Viable Product) in 3 follow-up workshops in collaboration with Cisco and Novable.
River Cleanup & its partners convinced the jury with their EcoTwin project, which digitises plastic bins in cities. The non-profit organisation wants to demonstrate its impact, encourage the community to recycle as much plastic as possible, and increase interaction with partners.
“11 billion kilograms of plastic end up in our oceans every year,” says Thomas de Groote, CEO of River Cleanup. “To curb that, River Cleanup keeps our rivers as clean as possible and encourages the population to recycle plastic to the maximum extent possible. We designed our EcoBins for that purpose. But those containers are not digitised, so we only receive a report once a week with the total weight of plastic collected.”
That’s why Cisco BeLux developed a digital twin of the EcoBin during the Innovation Challenge hackathon. An ultrasonic sensor measures the fill level and projects it onto a card. An NFC tag will give each EcoBin an identity. The team emptying the bins will now choose the smartest route based on the fill levels. It scans and weighs the bin and the system shows the impact in real-time.
“We estimate that we can increase our impact by 300%, to 25 million kilograms by 2027,” COO Arno Doggen states. “We will go from one report per week for all containers to 9 data points per container per day. We can refine our impact much more strongly and better filter and demonstrate local efforts. That will encourage people to recycle even better. We look forward to developing this further with Cisco and our partners Accenture, NTT, and Salesforce.”
River Cleanup and Cisco previously worked together in November 2021, when about eighty local employees cleaned up the banks of the Vesdre River as part of Cisco’s Giving Back week after severe flooding hit the region in 2021.
This hard work was much needed at the time, but it is even more important to give wings to the non-profit organisation to further increase its impact. If we can convince people to recycle better, less plastic will automatically end up in the rivers and oceans.
With the Innovation Challenge, Cisco wants to help its customers automate and innovate processes. Moreover, the purpose is to activate new capabilities on the customer’s smart infrastructure, for example through analytics, smart cameras, or/and sensors. Each team consists of about eight employees from the customer and its Cisco or ecosystem partner, as well as two Cisco Innovation Coaches from our Cisco Innovation Studio.
Using design thinking and collective intelligence techniques, our Cisco innovation coaches help teams broaden their vision and embark on an intelligent idea’s journey. They set organisations on the path of change and transformation, true to our motto at Novable: ‘Discover tomorrow’s innovations today’.
Of course, this hackathon is just the beginning of their innovation journey, which consists of 4 phases to discover, design, define, and finally develop a concrete solution. The model makes it easier to integrate new technologies, unleash their capabilities and thus accelerate innovation to address a concrete business challenge that the teams have chosen.
The ideas and solutions that have been developed will become a reality in the coming weeks and months so that the innovation can have its impact. All teams can count on Cisco BeLux to support them along the way.
Once again, the innovation challenge proved to be a powerful human adventure with new team dynamics, co-creation, and collective intelligence techniques. The smiling faces of our participants revealed healthy fatigue, but above all satisfaction.
Keynote speakers: Olivier Beaujean (Co-Founder and COO at Novable), Simon Dyke (Cisco Innovation Labs Leader), and Alok Nandi (Creative Director at Architempo).
Jury members Annelies Jutte, Koen Jacobs, Tjerk Bijlsma, Alexis Malchair, Guy Lucq, Leïla Maidane, Alok Nandi and Pierre-Alain Scharff.
Plastic waste is a global problem that demands our attention and action! Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to reduce our plastic consumption at home and at work. With a few changes in our daily routines, we can all play an important role in creating a sustainable future for ourselves and our planet.
From replacing single-use plastic with reusable packaging to choosing eco-friendly alternatives, you can make a positive impact on the environment!
Thanks to the River Cleanup Challenge you can make a difference for our planet. Are you in? It consists of 3 simple steps:
1. Take a pair of gloves and a bag
2. Go outside and spend 10 minutes cleaning up litter in your neighborhood
3. Share your hero photo on social media and challenge 3 friends to do the same
Don’t forget the hashtag #rivercleanupchallenge and tag @rivercleanup.
Take on the challenge between the 22nd of April (Earth Day) and the 8th of June (World Ocean Day). The perfect time to take action!