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Challenge Seeks Ways to Make Trace Minerals More Available

Vegetables at farmers' market

(A. Kotok)

A new challenge on InnoCentive is looking for different methods for making more available in people’s diets minerals the body needs in small quantities. The competition has a total guaranteed purse of $7,000, with a deadline for submissions of 15 February 2014.

InnoCentive in Waltham, Massachusetts conducts open-innovation, crowd-sourcing competitions for corporate and organization sponsors. In this case the sponsor is not identified. InnoCentive calls this kind of competition an ideation challenge that requires a brief written proposal.

Minerals are vital inorganic nutrients for the human body, used for various key biological functions such as regulating one’s heartbeat, making hormones, and developing bone tissue. Macrominerals are the minerals the body needs in larger amounts, including clacium, sodium, and potassium. Microminerals, also known as trace minerals, are needed by the body in smaller quantities,  less than 0.01% of total body weight or no more than 100 milligrams per day.

Examples of trace minerals are iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium. Iron, for example, is part of the protein hemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood throughout the body. Zinc is a catalyst for some 100 enzymes involved with immunity, wound healing, and protein and DNA synthesis.

The recommended method for having the right amounts of minerals, both macro and trace, in the body is a balanced diet, but lifestyle or economic factors prevent many people from making that happen. As a result, some physicians recommend nutritional supplements to boost an individuals intake of needed minerals.

The challenge seeks new cost-effective methods for making trace minerals more available in the diet and absorbed into the body. This type of competition is called an ideation challenge by InnoCentive that it describes as a broad question designed to generate new ideas, something like a worldwide brainstorming session. Proposals are submitted in essay form, usually about two pages in length.

The competition will award $7,000 in prizes, with at least one award no less than $5,000 and no other awards smaller than $1,000. All participants in the challenge will be notified of the status of their submsissions, but the sponsor does not plan to provide detailed critiques of individual proposals.

InnoCentive says taking part in the challenge provides the sponsor with a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in the participant’s proposal, even for promotional purposes. However, an exclusive transfer of intellectual property rights to the sponsor is not required.

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