Praxair, Inc. today announces the launch of a helium open innovation contest.

“Praxair research and development continuously develops new uses for industrial gases that improve the efficiency and environmental performance of our customers’ processes and products,” said Todd Skare, Chief Technology Officer of Praxair. “With the high rate of technological advancements around the world, an innovation contest enables Praxair to collaborate with creative people from diverse backgrounds that can lead to exciting new solutions.”

Helium is the smallest element and is used in a wide range of applications today, from MRIs and semiconductor manufacturing to welding and deep sea diving. The contest encourages entrants to apply helium’s long list of unique characteristics that include inertness, low boiling temperature, high thermal conductivity, and many others, to identify novel opportunities to increase its use.

Small element, big money

“This initiative will further enable us to rapidly develop solutions that will expand the global market for helium and drive long-term business growth through the creation of new applications,” said Amer Akhras, general manager for helium and rare gases at Praxair. “We look forward to working with engineers, scientists, academia, and others from a variety of fields to uncover new ideas and approaches to helium applications helping us to continue to drive innovation across the many industries we serve.”

NineSigma, which connects organizations with external innovation resources, is working with Praxair to coordinate the free contest. All proposals must be submitted online at NineSights (, NineSigma’s open innovation community, by Jan. 14, 2016, and are subject to the rules provided there. Five semi-finalists will be selected in the first quarter of 2016 and will each present their proposals to a Praxair technical and business development panel. At least three finalists will be chosen in the second quarter of 2016 and will be awarded a cash prize of $30,000 each.