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The Coca-Cola Company Sweetener Challenge

The Sweetener Challenge seeks a natural, safe, low/reduced-calorie compound that tastes like sugar when used in beverages and foods. Read Overview...
Total Prize Amount
$1,000,000

Time left to Enter

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Don't forget to check out the Sweet Story Challenge
Overview

Sugar.   Known also as sucrose (half glucose and half fructose), it sweetens most of what we enjoy eating and drinking.  Historically, sugar was extracted from sugar cane, which humans have been utilizing as a source of sweetener for thousands of years.  More recent developments have allowed for sweeteners to be derived from other plants, like beets and corn.  Sweeteners have evolved to include sugar alternatives and even naturally derived low- and no-calorie sweeteners.  As consumers continue to seek natural and low calorie options for their diets, these natural sweeteners provide new options.  While a tremendous amount of research has gone into the discovery and development of natural low- and no-calorie compounds, we still think there are novel compounds to be discovered and developed!

That’s why we are seeking your help: to find a natural, safe, reduced, low- or no-calorie compound that generates the taste sensation of sugar when used in beverages and foods.  The Coca-Cola Company is excited to sponsor The Coca-Cola Company Sweetener Challenge (the “Challenge”). 

 

Why Issue a Challenge? 


At The Coca-Cola Company, we are constantly innovating and refreshing our portfolio to meet the consumer’s tastes and lifestyles. And we know that amazing ideas can come from anywhere.  The Coca‑Cola Company Sweetener Challenge is looking for a natural, safe, reduced, low- or no-calorie compound that creates the taste sensation of sugar when used in beverages and foods.  We think that somewhere in the world, there is an individual or team of people who can solve our challenge!

 

The Challenge Breakthrough

The Coca-Cola Company Sweetener Challenge is looking for a natural, safe, reduced, low- or no-calorie compound that creates the taste sensation of sugar when used in beverages and foods.  The compound must not contain, or be derived from, Stevia or Lo Han Guo (Monk Fruit), or from any list of protected species or substances issued by any regulatory body in any country.

 

What Can You Do Right Now?

  • Read the complete challenge guidelines to see the rules and requirements for entry into the challenge.
  • “Accept Challenge” by clicking the orange button above to compete in the challenge. 
  • Follow the challenge above to be notified of any status updates to the challenge.
  • Share this challenge on social media using the icons above. Show your friends, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery.
  • Start a conversation in our Forum to join the conversation, ask questions or connect with other innovators.
Guidelines

Description

The Coca-Cola Company is seeking a molecule/compound that can be safely used to sweeten food and beverages. The molecule/compound must be novel and not contain, or be derived from, Stevia or Lo Han Guo (Monk Fruit).

We are not asking participants to taste or consume novel substances or substances that have a toxicity that is unknown. In fact, The Coca-Cola Company is expressly advising participants not to taste or consume any substances not approved for human consumption. Rather, The Coca-Cola Company is seeking a molecule/compound that has scientific data to support its safety for human consumption over a prolonged period.

The substance must perform as well as sucrose (“sugar”) in most attributes – taste, performance, safety, cost and consumer perception/acceptance.  

The Coca-Cola Company will independently seek regulatory approval for use of the substance in food and beverages from the relevant regulatory authorities in various countries.

The molecule/compound that you submit in a Submission is referred to as the “Source Material.”

Participants must provide any and all known information they have regarding:

  • Any health, regulatory or commercial restrictions for using the Source Material;
  • Discovery, development, or usage of Source Material by any indigenous people of the country or geographic region where the Source Material occurs naturally;
  • Any person or entity having any intellectual property rights or potential claim of intellectual property rights in the Source Material;

The decision whether to pursue the Source Material in light of all the considerations known or submitted, including but not limited to, taste, performance, safety, cost, consumer perception, rights of indigenous people, intellectual property rights, or any other considerations or restrictions, shall be at the sole and absolute discretion of The Coca-Cola Company.

 

Timeline

EVENT

DATE

Pre-Registration

Tuesday: June 13, 2017  

Challenge Launch

Tuesday: June 27, 2017

Final Submissions Due

Thursday: January 18, 2018 @5pm ET

Up to 10 Semi-Finalists Announced

Wednesday: February 21, 2018

Finalists

 

Up to 3 Finalists Announced

Wednesday: April 11, 2018

Winner

 

Winner Announced

Wednesday: October 3, 2018 

 

Submission Requirements

Your submission to this challenge must contain the elements listed below.  These elements should be accurate, thorough, specific, clear, and easy to read.

  1. Team or Individual information from registration
  2. Online Submission Form (described below)
  3. Graphic representation of the chemical structure (described below)
  4. Test Results for stability in sunlight and in pH (described below)
  5. Written Summary (described below)

See further detail below.

 

Online Submission Form

  1. Elevator Pitch: Explain your molecule/compound in a few words. (100 characters)
  2. Brief summary of your test results (500 characters)
  3. Executive Summary: Summarize the important points of written description (4,000 characters)
  4. Why should your molecule/compound be chosen for an award? (750 characters)
  5. Are there any health, regulatory or commercial restrictions for using the Source Material
  6. Discovery, development, or usage of Source Material by any indigenous people of the country or geographic region where the Source Material occurs naturally;
  7. Any person or entity having any intellectual property rights or potential claim of intellectual property rights in the Source Material;

 

Graphic Representation of the Chemical Structure (Submitted as PDF attachment)

In the event that the structure of your molecule/compound is publicly known, please include a reference to the publication and a graphic representation of your molecule/compound with molecular geometry as well as any other relevant characteristics.  If the structure has not been previously published, please note that you are not including a graphic representation because it is not publicly known.  You may additionally include a written description.

 

Test Results (Submitted as PDF attachment)

  1. Stability in Sunlight: On a sunny day, place a sample in a clear PET bottle or glass bottle under direct sunlight from 8am one day to 8am the following day. The sample should be completely dissolved in pH2.8 water. The concentration of the sample can be 0.5%~10% depending on the intensity of sweetness. Document any change in color or smell.  Do you have any additional information about the stability of your molecule/compound in sunlight?  This may include observational data from continuing the sunlight test for a longer period of time.
  2. Stability in pH: Place a sample in PET bottle or glass bottle in ambient temperature (about 25 °C) for 30 days. The sample should be completely dissolved in pH2.8 water. The concentration of the sample can be 0.5%~10% depending on the intensity of sweetness. Analyze the level of degradation of your molecule. Document any change in color or smell.  Do you have any additional information about the stability of your molecule/compound in in pH 2.8 and other levels of pH?  This may include observational data from continuing the pH stability test for a longer period of time.

 

Written Summary Requirements (Submitted as PDF attachment)

Responses to each of the following questions must be included to be considered a complete proposal and to be eligible for this Challenge:

  1. What is the composition of your molecule/compound?   How is this molecule/compound natural?
  2. Describe available information that supports that the molecule is safe for human consumption?
  3. Describe your molecule/compound’s sweetness and taste profile.   How did you safely determine this profile?
  4. How does your molecule/compound produce its sweetness effect?
  5. What types of beverages and foods can be sweetened with your sweetness molecule/compound?  What beverages and foods would not work well?
  6. How does your molecule/compound compare to sugar in terms of calories?
  7. How water-soluble is your molecule/compound? What are its limitations in solubility?
  8. What is the history of your efforts with this molecule/compound?
  9. How is your molecule/compound novel – original and different from existing known molecules and compounds?
  10. If some form of your molecule/compound has been used in beverages or foods, how did the taste compare with these beverages or foods sweetened by sucrose?
  11. How is your molecule/compound compatible with other sweeteners?
  12. What are the available sources of your molecule/compound?

 

Proposals are limited to 20 pages maximum, including the title page, table of contents, appendices, etc. Paper size must be 8.5 by 11 inches, with the exception of supporting materials. Minimum margins are one inch. Font must be minimum 12 pt, double-spaced (text in tables and figures may be as small as 9pt). No logos, names, or other markings that could be used to identify the proposing team or any team members are allowed on any of the pages.

 

Proposals must be uploaded as a single unlocked PDF document, 20 MB maximum. Embedded hyperlinks to external content, such as videos or animations (maximum two minutes duration recommended; longer videos or animations may affect judging) or anything else that might help the judging panel come to a decision on a winning idea or concept, are allowed. However, there is no guarantee that judges will view external content, so the proposal document itself must stand on its own.

 

Judging and Prizes:

The Coca-Cola Company will assemble a panel of qualified judges, determined in its sole discretion and this judging panel will rank qualified submissions according to the criteria described below.  Judges may contact teams to request further information, clarification, or samples.

Up to 10 semi-finalists will be announced on February 21, 2018 (each a “Semi-Finalist”). The Coca-Cola Company will contact the top-ranked Semi-Finalists requesting appropriate paperwork regarding shipping, material safety data, and customs information) and a sample of at least 6 grams of the molecule/compound be provided.  On April 11, 2018, up to three finalists will be announced (each a “Finalist”).   

The Coca-Cola Company will conduct more extensive tests on these Finalists’ samples for up to 6 months and Finalists may be asked to provide additional information and sample material.  By October 3, 2018, The Coca-Cola Company will award $1M USD to one grand prize winner.  

 

Criteria

The Coca-Cola Company will judge the molecule/compounds submitted against the following criteria as well as any other criteria deemed important for predicting successful commercialization of the molecule/compound.

Category

Criteria

Score

Physical Properties

Natural

30

Novel

30

Color

5

Total Points for Physical Properties =

65

Category

Criteria

Score

Product Development

Low or no calories when used

30

Shelf-Life

5

Compatibility with other product ingredients

5

Total Points for Product Development =

40

Regulatory Feasibility

Strength of evidence that molecule or compound is safe for consumption

10

Commercial viability

10

Feasibility of being approved by FDA or other regulations in most countries

10

Total Points for Regulatory Feasibility =

30

Taste

Tastes like sugar

30

Consumer perception

5

Total Points for Taste =

35

Chemical Properties

Solubility of six times the sweetness of sugar

10

Light stability

5

pH stability

5

Heat stability

5

Micro-stability

5

Total Points for Chemical Properties =

30

Grand Total =

200

 

All judging is in the discretion of The Coca-Cola Company.  By participating in the Challenge, you fully and unconditionally agree to and accept the Challenge Specific Agreement, these Guidelines, and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding in all matters related to the Challenge.

 

Disqualifications

Below are the minimum qualifications for being considered for this challenge.  Molecule/compounds will be disqualified if they do not satisfy each and every one of these criteria:

  • Novel and not covered in any open information including publication and IP related to sweeteners or the use as a sweetener.
  • Natural
  • Equivalent or better sweetness profile than existing natural sweeteners
  • Reasonable evidence that molecule/compound is safe for consumption
  • Does not contain any portion related to Stevia or Monk fruit (Luo Han Guo)
  • Soluble at a concentration of the molecule/compound in water that provides the same sweetness as a solution of 10% sugar in water.
  • Minimum light stability: saturated molecule/compound in pH 2.8 water, exposed to direct sunlight for 24 hours has no smell, change in look, or change in concentration.
  • Minimum pH stability: saturated molecule/compound in pH 2.8 water at 25 °C for 1 month has less than 10% degradation.
  • Submission must be complete
  • Submission must address the scoring criteria 

 

Rules and Regulations

  • Participation is open to anyone who has attained the age of majority in their place of residence, or is older, at the time of entry.
  • By participating, you are fully and unconditionally agreeing to and accept the terms of these guidelines, the Challenge Specific Agreement, and the decisions of the judges which are final and binding.
  • This Challenge may be suspended or cancelled at any time if there is a security breach or administration is impaired in any way for any reason, including, but not limited to, fraud, virus or other technical problem. Anyone who is found to have been tampering with the entry process or is, at judges’ or Sponsor’s sole discretion, disruptive in any manner will be disqualified.
  • To the extent permitted under applicable law, each entrant agrees that The Coca‑Cola Company may cancel, suspend, and/or modify the Challenge, or any part of it, if any fraud, technical failure, human error, or any other factor impairs the integrity or proper functioning of the Challenge.
  • Entrant agrees that The Coca‑Cola Company may disqualify any entrant that it finds to be tampering with the operation of the Challenge or to be acting in violation of these Guidelines or the Challenge Specific Agreement or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, as determined by The Coca‑Cola Company in its sole discretion. Any attempt by any entrant or his or her agent to deliberately undermine the legitimate operation of the Challenge may be a violation of the law and The Coca‑Cola Company reserves all rights to seek damages and other remedies (including attorney’s fees) from any such entrant to the fullest extent permitted by law.
  • All disputes will be resolved by binding arbitration in Fulton County, Georgia and in accordance with the laws of the State of Georgia.
  • All personal information collected is subject to The Coca-Cola Company Privacy Policy http://www.coca-cola.com/tcccprivacypolicy.
  • All communications must be in English.
  • The decision whether to pursue the plant-derived sweetener in light of all the considerations known or submitted, including but not limited to, taste, performance, safety, cost, consumer perception, rights of indigenous people, intellectual property rights, or any other considerations or restrictions, shall be at the sole and absolute discretion of The Coca‑Cola Company. 
  • The Coca-Cola Company will independently seek regulatory approval for use of the substance in food and beverages from the relevant regulatory authorities in various countries.
  •  Innovator will retain all intellectual property rights to their technology.
  • This Challenge is subject to all the provisions of the Challenge Specific Agreement, which are incorporated into these Guidelines by reference.

 

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