In June, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) launched Propane Challenge, a new program that uses open innovation to attract creative thinking and concepts to the propane industry. This program is designed to encourage talented researchers and manufacturers both within and beyond the propane industry to think of new ways to deliver and use propane. Ultimately, this new approach to research will provide PERC with breakthrough innovation concepts that will be considered for research funding.
Nexight Group Executive Vice President Ross Brindle is managing Propane Challenge and working closely with PERC’s Chief Commercialization Officer Steve Wayne to ensure that PERC’s innovation pipeline is full of ideas with the significant potential to improve the propane industry. Nexight is building key partnerships and generating new ideas by attending trade shows and technical conferences; reaching out to key manufacturers, universities, and professional societies; and working with open innovation brokers Nine Sigma and Innovation Exchange. As new ideas are submitted from all of these partnership efforts, Nexight is managing the review process to select the ideas with the most potential.
“The concept of open innovation is closely aligned with Nexight’s philosophy for solving tough problems,” says Ross. “As a ‘link tank’, our philosophy is to bring the best minds together to think about persistent problems in new ways. Open innovation is a model for doing just that. The approach can accelerate and reduce the cost of R&D by means that weren’t possible until 10 or 15 years ago. Now, an R&D sponsor like PERC can connect with an unknown researcher anywhere in the world—India, Turkey, or next door—who has the key insight needed to realize an innovation opportunity. Making these connections through Propane Challenge can help PERC to succeed in its mission to grow the propane industry.”