In the push towards a circular economy and operational excellence, innovation is the bedrock of practical sustainability and a driving force for industry success. It’s this innovation that Sappi places at the core of its culture and its operations. And that means continually investing in innovation to create the engineering breakthroughs and circular solutions of tomorrow.
At the heart of our drive to innovate is the Sappi Technical Innovation Awards (TIAs) – conceived in 2000 to celebrate technical innovation and sustainable innovation solutions within Sappi, and to help pave the way for the next generation of people, processes and sustainable products.
The annual global awards programme invites teams of enterprising visionaries from across all of Sappi’s regions in Europe, North America and Southern Africa to demonstrate technical innovation in action. Each year brings a new theme to inspire the teams, and alongside that, nominations for the awards need to demonstrate technical innovation, economic impact, market leadership value, product/process impact and customer satisfaction. Three regional finalists then go head-to-head with their cutting-edge solutions to find one overall winner.
The teams entering the awards often have different areas of expertise and come from different business units, reflecting a multi-disciplinary approach towards sharing knowledge and learning from challenges that are common, company-wide. But one thing unites them all – they each put in practise novel concepts that shine a light on extraordinary creativity - not just within Sappi, but in the industry as a whole.
‘Regular cross-regional and mill platforms exist to share learnings, building the bench and exposure of our talented resources to engage in this exciting environment,’ says Group Head of Technology Gary Bowles.
‘This year, we have removed the previous limit to the number of team members that can be nominated for the TIAs. Nominations and recognition from all the regions, business segments, disciplines and functions that were part of the team that developed and implemented the initiative and solution can be included.
We have also included a ‘Technical Excellence’ segment for recognition of those teams or individuals where the innovation is real, but the economic value threshold has not been reached. A commendation segment recognises those teams that have created the innovation foundation work, but need more time to bring the project to full market realisation.’
Fostering involvement is fundamental to a workforce that is collectively and passionately aligned to the same goals. For that reason, The TIAs are an important annual event - not only for engaging closely with employees to inspire positive personal and business outcomes, but for encouraging and realising future-oriented ideas.
‘Engagement, recognition and saying thanks are key values for Sappi,’ says Gary. ‘The TIAs are seen as a pinnacle in recognition, with learnings shared across the organisation. We have various scoring criteria pertaining to innovation, with customer focus and developing market trends on sustainability and circularity as key metrics. Our natural renewable resources, product portfolio and focus on recyclability and reduced carbon footprint certainly support circular solutions.’