In a step to trigger continued, future innovation, Yara’s department for Innovation and R&D in Porsgrunn and Wrocław University of Technology in Poland cooperated to stage a competition for students.
The Norwegian town of Porsgrunn may not be the biggest place in the world, but it definitely contains the heart, brains and history of Yara. Harboring one of the largest NPK plants in the world, as well as giving accommodation to the Yara Innovation and R&D department, Porsgrunn has played an important role in Yara history so far, and continues to do so through many important technological concepts being developed there.
Student competition mustering innovation
To further promote industry innovation, a cooperation with a Polish university has recently taken place. "This collaboration with Wrocław University of Technology is of interest for Yara Innovation and R&D - it is one of very few in Europe that has an Institute of Fertilizer Process Technology," explains Yara’s Jakub Bujalski, Principal Engineer with the Innovation and R&D department.
"The competition was open to all students, the only requirement was that the work had to be done in a team, to highlight the Yara value of 'teamwork'," Jakub says. The theme of the competition, organized by Jakub Skut from the Fertilizer Institute at the university, was to design a neutralization step for a nitrophosphate NPK plant.
The project lasted two months and students worked on it in their spare time, using only information available in the open literature. Reports were written in English and contained their ideas and concept designs.
The submitted entries were analyzed and judged by a panel from the Innovation and R&D department in Porsgrunn. The winning team was announced in late May at the University in Wroclaw. Patrycja Kita and Jakub Bujalski from Yara Innovation and R&D were there to award the winning team and hand out the prizes.
The winning team of Katarzyna Chęcińska, Jakub Kuczyński, Angelika Masłowska and Oskar Siergiej came to Norway in July and visited Yara Innovation and R&D in Porsgrunn, where they presented their neutralizer concept and had a tour of the largest single site nitrophosphate based NPK plant in the world. “Our highlight of the tour was the neutralizer section in the NPK plant where we could see the process in practice,” they said.
"We think this competition shows how we can interact with knowledgeable students and market Yara as an exciting workplace. Actually, all students participating in the competition wanted to visit Yara in Porsgrunn, even if they had to pay their own expenses!" Patrycja and Jakub said.
Ole-Jacob Siljan, Yara’s Head of Process R&D, agrees and adds that “Yara Innovation and R&D have a strategy towards doing more open innovation. Interaction with universities with critical competence to Yara can be seen as a part of this strategy.”