Please note that the details of this Challenge are no longer open. This challenge is withdrawn and is no longer accepting new submissions. You can:
Challenge <p>Novel Methods for Dehairing of Animal Hides</p>

Novel Methods for Dehairing of Animal Hides

Award:  $30,000 USD
Deadline: Withdrawn
Active Solvers: 119
Posted: Nov 09 2018
Challenge ID: 9934204
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The Seeker is looking for novel materials/methods to remove hair and epidermis from animal hides without the use of traditional chemicals like sulfur compounds and strong oxidizers. Enzymes can be used if they will selectively dissolve/remove the animal hair without the dissolution of other proteins from the skin or animal meat. Any method should meet regulatory and safety requirements and produce the same quality material at about the same or slightly higher costs than traditional process. Selected solutions will be tested at the Seeker’s facility.

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires a method that can meet the Solution Requirements and rationale that can convince the Seeker it is worth a trial. The Seeker will run testing on those methods deemed acceptable. Acceptable Results of Testing will determine awards.


The leather tanning process has been established for many decades and has not seen large process changes over the years. In the interest of safety and environmental concerns, the Seeker has decided to look for a large change in the materials used in the process and is seeking your help to do it. Traditionally, large quantities of sulfur compounds and strong oxidizers are used to dehair the hides which are both toxic and difficult to handle. Enzymes have been successfully used, but they are not selective enough in the proteins they break down and continue to attack the meat and hide proteins ruining the leather quality. The Seeker is looking for new materials/methods to remove the hair and epidermis of cow hides without damaging the hide structure (collagen matrix). The hair can come out of the hide intact or be dissolved. More details are provided in the Challenge.

The submission to the Challenge should include the following:

  1. A detailed description of your proposed Method addressing the specific Solution Requirements presented in the Detailed Description of the Challenge. This description should be accompanied by a well-articulated rationale supported by literature/patent precedents.
  2. Those submissions deemed acceptable by the Seeker will be tested by the Seeker. Note: Testing is not guaranteed. The Seeker will attempt to test viable solutions, however there are many reasons why testing cannot be performed/continued. Some examples would be the unavailability of materials or equipment, or a dangerous situation. Methods that cannot be tested will only be eligible for awards at the Seeker’s discretion.

Receipt of a Challenge award is contingent upon theoretical evaluation and experimental validation of the submitted Solutions 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 January 7, 2019. 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 RTP Challenge?

An InnoCentive RTP (Reduction to Practice) Challenge is a prototype that proves an idea, and is similar to an InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge in its high level of detail. However, an RTP requires the Solver to submit a validated solution, either in the form of original data or a physical sample. Also the Seeker is allowed to test the proposed solution. For details about treatment of IP rights, please see the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

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