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Re-Imagining Wood


The Re-Imagining Wood Challenge

How can the natural attributes of wood commonly seen as disadvantages be re-imagined as assets to create novel, sustainable products?

The Brief

There was a time when wood and wood fibre based materials were used for almost everything in the built environment. Now non-renewables like plastics, metals and concrete have supplanted many of these products. For example, cellophane was largely replaced by plastic wrap and wood street light standards have been largely replaced by concrete or metal. In many cases and in order to compete, we have engineered wood to do what other materials already do well. This is a good thing, but we believe there are additional opportunities for innovation if wood was allowed to do what it does best, naturally. What if wood’s ability to rot, expand and contract or char when burned were reframed as attributes to be designed in, rather than engineered out? Using the past for clues, that is what we will explore in this challenge.

The concepts generated in this challenge must;

  • capitalize on one or more of the unique attributes of wood that are typically seen as a disadvantage (biodegradability, hydroscopic nature, burnability, flexibility, photosensitivity, etc.),
  • be mainly wood though they may also include non-wood materials in a supporting role, and
  • target solutions to important issues in today’s built environment.

The concepts generated in this challenge may;

  • be either industrial products or consumer products,
  • capitalize on new digital technologies (manufacturing, information, electronics),
  • be a system, a discreet product or a product line, and
  • be a product or a product/service combination.

Participants can contribute as much or as little as they wish. That is, you may only comment and give feedback on other’s ideas or you may wish to submit concepts of your own. This challenge emphasizes collaboration. Rewards are given for collaboration and contribution, as well as for best concepts. We have chosen a collaborative approach because we believe the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The resulting concepts will be used to spark further R&D and ultimately, help bring the world closer to a renewable built environment of the future.

How this Challenge will Work

The challenge will take place over an eleven week period, from January 28th, 2013 to April 15th, 2013.

It will have three phases, the first phase is where participants are encouraged to add context to the challenge. You can share anything that might be of interest or add to the understanding of our challenge. This could be comments, documents, links, images or video, the more visual and concise you can be the better. This will go until March 1st.

Participants can begin developing their concept whenever they are ready and can start uploading after March 1st. The earlier you upload your concept the more likely you are to receive feedback. Building on each others ideas is encouraged as we hope that this will leverage the ideas and experiences of the community. You are free to modify and improve your own idea right up to the deadline of the concept phase which is March 31st, 2013.

The third phase is the evaluation phase where participants are asked to vote on the ideas they think are the most viable based on the challenge criteria. The concept with the most votes wins the Community Choice Award. In addition, our jury will choose two winning concepts. This phase will last 2 weeks.

During each phase, FPIntell moderators will help shape the journey and keep things on track.


Since this challenge stresses collaboration, the cash prizes are for both participation and best concepts. There is $5000CDN total in cash prizes.

1st Top Collaborator reward $500

2nd Top Collaborator reward $500

Best Concept $2500

Second Best Concept $1500

All winners will receive recognition on this site even after the challenge is over. In addition, winning concepts will be presented to the industry-government bio-products steering committee for consideration for further R&D.

Criteria for Evaluating Concepts

The following criteria will be used by the community and the jury to evaluate the concepts.

  • How important is the problem that this concept addresses in the built environment? (sustainability)
  • How well does the concept solve the challenge?
  • How innovative is the concept?
  • How well would the concept perform?
  • Aesthetic Appeal (for appearance products)

Criteria for Evaluating Collaboration

A combination of qualitative and quantitative measurements will be used to evaluate participant collaborative efforts and contributions.

  • Quantitative evaluation will be things such as; adding a custom avatar, number of comments and number of context posts
  • Qualitative evaluation will be done by the Challenge managers and be based on the value of comments, posts and ideas

The Jury

Roland Baumeister, Manager, Member Relations, FPInnovations

Tim Caldecott, Innovation Support Specialist, FPInnovations

Torsten Lihra, Knowledge Transfer Leader, FPInnovations


You must be registered to the FPIntell LAB to participate. You can do this by clicking the Sign Up tab and finding the ‘Re-imagining Wood’ area. You will be asked to agree to the Terms and Conditions of this challenge. As a member of a project, you will have full access to the interactive features of that event. You will be able to submit concepts, comment on, read, evaluate and be a candidate for the rewards.


The Re-Imagining WoodChallenge is open to anyone though it will be of particular interest to engineers, architects, interior designers and industrial designers, building professionals and material scientists. Students in these areas are also most welcome. To be eligible to take part in the Challenge, Participants must be age 18 or older at the beginning of the Challenge. Employees of FPInnovations and its affiliates, and their immediate families (defined as husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, or persons residing in the household of such employees), and anyone else professionally connected with the Challenge are also eligible for participation. Employees of FPInnovations are however not eligible to receive any of the prizes. FPInnovations reserves the right to verify the eligibility of Participants and check their identity.

Terms and Conditions Explained

All intellectual property rights to the concepts remain with the participant. FPInnovations has first rights to negotiation of ownership of any and all intellectual property rights. Participants own their concepts, but all concepts may be published and mentioned by FPInnovations during and after the contest.  We also ask that participants do not post any concept that is not their original work and/or that could belong to a third party by contractual or employment obligations.

How to Upload a Concept

From within the project, click on the ‘Upload Concept’ button.

  • Name your concept
  • Describe your concept (less than 300 words) citing materials used, the functional aspects of your concept and the main benefits of the concept including how it solves the challenge and how it solves important issues in the built environment.
  • Add supporting images using the following file formats JPEG, GIF or PNG, maximum file size is 3 Mb, maximum file count in each post is five.
  • Add supporting information as a PDF.
  • You may add links to web pages or videos.

Your Profile

Participants are able to edit their profiles by uploading a photo, adding information and changing settings. It is also important to note that you can turn off any notifications you do not wish to receive. For example you will automatically receive a message when someone posts a comment on your concept and when you get points for collaboration, but these can be easily turned off under ‘Notifications’ if you prefer.


This challenge is sponsored by FPInnovations. FPInnovations is among the world’s largest private, not-for-profit forest research centres.


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