TechConnect Ventures

Sprint Challenge Brief:

Next-Gen Paper Container Innovations

Submissions Closed


A leading global food and beverage container company seeks innovations to create the next generation paper container. A broad spectrum of technologies are in-scope for this effort, encompassing materials and processing equipment.


Originating early in the 20th century, the humble paper cup started as a public health innovation to help prevent the spread of germs via communal cups. In the present day, paper cups and other containers are staples of the morning coffee run, takeout orders and institutional food service.

TechConnect's client, a US-based container company with international reach, wants to identify new technologies that can deliver improved performance and sustainability for 21st century users. To enhance its already best-in-class paper container lines, the client is interested in a diverse range of approaches and technologies including, but not limited to:

  • Materials
    • Sustainable new sources of food-safe paper:
      • Virgin
      • Recycled
      • Valorized waste streams
    • Food-safe coatings for insulative or barrier performance:
      • Alternatives to existing coatings like PLA
      • New barrier chemistries
    • Food-safe adhesives suitable for high and/or low temperatures
  • Equipment
    • Novel precision equipment to create permanent bends, curves, folds, overlaps or seals
    • Innovative equipment for molding or forming shaped containers such as bowls, cups, lids or trays
    • Enhanced printing options including rapid customization, especially with minimal changeover time and reduced scrap generation

Other innovations not specifically addressed above are potentially in-scope if they provide new production options and/or innovative performance features.

Ideally, proposed technology will be suitable for both hot and cold applications (0ºC - 91ºC). However, approaches which deliver enhanced performance to either hot or cold use cases are still of interest. Additionally, technologies that provide paper containers higher insulative performance than alternative materials (such as EPS foam) are of particular interest.

Technologies that enable post-consumer processing are of strong interest e.g. home composting, industrial composting, or recycling. Biodegradable pathways are also of interest.

All proposed approaches should be suitable for low-cost, high-volume manufacturing. It is also highly desirable that technologies should deliver a finished product that readily accept a paper or resin lid with no leakage.

Technologies near commercial readiness are of greatest interest however, there is no minimum technical maturity required. Early-stage technologies must indicate a viable pathway to commercial deployment for consideration.


Solvers submitting an Entry are encouraged to highlight capabilities in their Submission that meet criteria including:

  • Overview of proposed innovation: material or equipment
  • Anticipated performance such as:
    • Minimum and maximum temperatures
    • Optimal size range
    • Shapeability
    • Permeability
    • Adhesion
    • Resistance to leakage
    • Insulative performance
  • Anticipated per unit cost: currently and/or at scale
  • Sustainability:
    • Sourcing
    • Post-consumer:
      • Biodegradability
      • Compostability: home or industrial
      • Recyclability
  • Availability of samples or ability to conduct a pilot test
  • Timeline to commercialization
  • Technical maturity

Business Opportunity for Solvers

All complete and eligible Entries will be included in an exclusive Innovation Opportunity Report that will be presented to our client. Solvers with well-matched capabilities may be contacted directly by either TechConnect Ventures or the client to discuss potential partnership opportunities, including – but not limited to – demonstrations, consulting, contract research, licensing, and more. Top-rated Entries may also be invited to register or participate in an upcoming TechConnect Ventures event or pitch program.

Participation Rules & Guidelines

Solvers are encouraged to review the Rules and Guidelines provided on the Sprint page for details about participation, including submission criteria, eligibility information, and more.

Download Challenge Brief