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INNOVATE for better

Calling all NTNU students and startups!

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We’re inviting students to contribute solutions to the energy transition.

We’re inviting all NTNU students and startups to participate in this challenge. Hear Equinor employee and NTNU master graduate Inga explain more about this award.

Innovate for better

What is INNOVATE for better?

INNOVATE for Better is a monetary award established by the energy company Equinor together with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Would YOU like to contribute to driving the energy transition towards net zero?

Without energy, the world would simply stop. But the energy system needs to change, and we are working towards the goal of Norway becoming a low-emission country by 2050.

We believe that innovative entrepreneurs and start-ups will play a vital role in making this happen. We also know that a lack of funding can be a real showstopper for entrepreneurs, especially in the early stages of a project.

  • Do you have concrete ideas on how to contribute to acceleration of the energy transition, or help solve specific problems? If so, let us help support you in developing your ideas and give you a flying start!

How can YOU contribute to accelerating the energy transition towards net zero?

Net Zero: the goal is simple, the solution is complex. This is where we all need to work together.

Like many other nations, Norway aims to be a low-emission country by 2050. Net zero means that we have solutions to eliminate or neutralise greenhouse gas emissions.

We clearly need to ramp up the capacity of renewables, carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) — as well as clean hydrogen — to meet the future demand of clean energy.

Here’s the challenge

How can your idea, project, technology or startup contribute to the energy transition? How can it contribute in Equinor’s journey towards net zero?

And if that's too broad a problem to focus on, we have gathered nine very specific and important challenges below.

Here are nine key challenges searching for solutions:

Problem 1: Lack of geological information 50—70 metres beneath the seabed

Why is this a problem? Currently we lack detailed knowledge of geological formations before submitting a tender, meaning that we and our investors, operators and contractors face increased costs and risk of delays, since the piling costs in unfavourable geological conditions are substantially higher than in good conditions. Today’s geophysical and geotechnical tools need to be improved to enable them to detect large boulders and challenging conditions as far down as 70 metres. How can we eliminate this investment risk? Are you able to contribute to solving this challenge?

Problem 2: Service Operation Vessel (SOV) costs and operational limitations

Why is this a problem? Many of today’s Service Operation Vessels (SOVs) are too large and have limited operating hours, and are unable to operate or transfer personnel and equipment to the turbines in difficult weather conditions and hours of darkness. Furthermore, they cannot handle subsea tasks and remote operations with underwater drones, and are not equipped with facilities for charging drones. How can we execute the necessary surveillance, monitoring, inspection, and maintenance whenever necessary and at lower cost?

Problem 3: Costly damage to offshore wind farm subsea cables

Frequent damage to offshore cables leads to increased costs and challenging operative reliability. How can we:

• prevent damage to offshore cables and/or
• efficiently and effectively repair damage or even
• transfer energy without cables?

Build on the root causes of the current damage mechanisms, and propose an installation-friendly solution with the lowest possible Levelised Cost Of Energy (LCOE).

Problem 4: Floating offshore wind turbine moorings

Why is this a problem? Floating offshore wind turbines are difficult and expensive to moor. Current industry practice is that floating offshore wind turbines are kept in place using several moorings. However, there are not enough factories available for production or ships for installation to meet the 2030 climate targets set by the energy industry. The industry needs an alternative positioning system for wind turbines to flexibly adapt to wave systems while remaining in the same place in all types of weather. How should we keep them in place?

Problem 5: Underwater intervention drone communication

Why is this a problem? Underwater intervention drones could significantly increase efficiencies on offshore activities but are limited by the short communication range subsea. There is a trade-off between bandwidth and range, where increasing the bandwidth decreases the range, and vice versa. Currently, typical high range/low bandwidth under water is 20-40 metres, limiting underwater drone range and operation. How can we increase both the range and the bandwidth between subsea units?

Problem 6: Accumulated oxygen hazard in green hydrogen production

Why is this a problem? Surplus oxygen resulting from green hydrogen production is a safety hazard, due to the explosion risk. The high content of oxygen in confined spaces in an industrial setting introduces a major risk to ignition and explosion, and there will be significant quantities of surplus oxygen resulting from green hydrogen production. Therefore we need a smarter way to utilise it and generate commercial value, rather than simply releasing it to the air. How can this oxygen be captured and stored safely? Or utilized without storage for other applications?

Problem 7: Making CO2 into a commercially viable product

Why is this a problem? Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS)/Carbon Capture Utilization & Storage (CCUS) projects are expected to become a significant part of our business in the coming years, but would be a waste of resources if CO2 could be utilised in a sustainable setting. CCS & CCUS projects will extract large quantities of CO2 from air, sea and produced natural gas. Stored CO2 has no commercial value, so utilisation would be preferable. What can we do with captured CO2 to make it into a commercially valuable product?

Problem 8: Autonomy, interoperability & robotics

Why is this a problem? Condition monitoring of facility equipment is often unprecise, unreliable and expensive, with potentially disastrous consequences. Unpredictable problems can go undetected by human monitoring, leading to costly unplanned maintenance and mundane, uninspiring jobs. Each individual machine and component has its own specific acoustical ‘fingerprint’ that can reveal its actual condition in real time. How might sound be used to autonomously determine the actual condition of production and industrial equipment?

Problem 9: Creating and maintaining digital twins

Why is this a problem? Digital twins are invaluable, but many of our onshore plants lack good quality 3D models. Greater detail is needed, but creating and maintaining digital twins is expensive and time consuming. Currently, many of our new initiatives rely on 3D models and digital twins, but a lack of models is limiting the opportunities and value creation of these projects. We are seeking ways to build and improve 3D models of assets, linking objects to their respective tags and technical documentation. How can we effectively improve our digital twins as fast as possible?

Here are the prizes on offer:

1st place
Up to 300 000 NOK
Ph.D. student or Startup project

Up to 100 000 NOK
early phase student project

2nd place
Up to 50 000 NOK

3rd place
Up to 50 000 NOK

The winners will also have access to Equinor’s subject matter experts for three months.

What are the conditions?

All students at NTNU, from bachelor to PhD, can apply. All we ask is that you have a concrete idea, project or start up that could contribute to the energy transition – and don't worry, Equinor will not own any rights, your ideas are one hundred percent your ideas.

And one more thing: The deadline is November 10th 2023!

See below for how to apply, and scroll down for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to apply

Simply send your proposal in the following format to :

  1. A video introduction of your team (90 sec)
  2. A video pitch of your idea (3 min)
  3. Your pitch deck (max 12 slides)

The application deadline is 10 November 2023

Guidelines for pitch deck (PDF)

Frequently asked questions

Who can participate?
The challenge is for all students, from bachelor to Ph.D.

Can international students participate?

Can you participate as a group?
Yes, you should work in groups, preferably multi-disciplinary groups.

Will the whole group win the 1st prize?
Yes. The whole group will win the prize, in order to further mature the idea, project, start up or tech that you have been working on. This includes a monetary prize and access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in Equinor, for 3 months.

What do you want me to deliver?
1. Video introduction of the team (90 sec)
2. Video pitch of your idea (3 min)
3. Your PITCH DECK (max 12 slides)

Where should we submit our deliveries?
The deliveries must be submitted to  by 10 November 2023

Will Equinor own the rights to the idea, tech or project?

Do we get any kind of assistance during the competition?
Yes, you will be able to talk to mentors in Equinor.

What are the key criteria for success?
• Value creation / business potential
• Probability of success / likelihood of realisation
• Potential to improve sustainability
• Degree of innovation creativity

What is the deadline?
The deadline is 10 November, and the best groups will be contacted within 3-4 weeks.

Would you like dialogue with us?

Sign up for a dialogue with us using the form linked below before you submit your ideas.

Preregistration form