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Podco Inc. selected as solution provider for the NORCAT Open Innovation Challenge in partnership with Vale

Sudbury-based company will develop a solution to address the issue of inrush of material in underground mining
Podco Inc., a Sudbury-based product design firm, will partner with Vale on finding a solution to the inrush of material underground.

Podco is happy to announce that they have been selected as a solution provider in the Open Innovation Challenge presented by NORCAT in partnership with Vale. Podco was the successful applicant to develop an innovative technology solution for the inrush of material challenge facing the global mining industry.

Uncontrolled water in an underground mining environment can be a significant hazard. In an underground mine, managing water is a critical activity to ensure the safety of workers and ongoing/effective mining activities. As part of the Open Innovation call, Podco will develop a hardware solution that will both identify and mitigate the conditions leading to the risk of the inrush of material.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Podco to showcase our experience and agile product development. It’s a very forward-thinking program put together by Vale in partnership with NORCAT. I believe the collaboration between Podco and the Vale team will lead to the best possible solution," said Stephen Podrucky, product designer and founder of Podco Inc.

The Vale Open Innovation Challenge serves to identify and engage innovative companies with potential technology solutions to solve some of the most challenging issues facing the global mining industry. Through open innovation and collaboration, this initiative aims to further the acceleration, adoption and deployment of emerging technologies that are poised to transform the mining sector.

"The goal of the Open Innovation Platform is to build a more strategic, reliable, and efficient pathway to solve challenges facing the global mining industry by increasing the collaboration amongst the builders and buyers of innovation," said Brendan Skiffington, regional innovation coordinator of NORCAT. "Podco is a great example of an agile, innovative Northern Ontario company that is bringing new technology, ideas, and concepts to the mining industry, creating a safer and more productive mine."

"At Vale, ’Life matters most’ is one of our key values and we leverage innovation as a prime lever to help drive improvement in our personal and process safety," said Anthony Downs, Vale’s digital leader. Anthony went on to explain that the partnership with NORCAT allowed Vale to rapidly identify novel solutions in the innovation ecosystem and then to collaborate with the selected entrepreneur to solve a range of tough industry issues.

Within four months, Podco will develop and deploy a proof of concept to solve the inrush of material challenge. Once a successful proof-of-concept product is developed, Podco will commence in-the-field product testing within one of Vale’s Greater Sudbury operations to validate the effectiveness of the technology solution.

About Podco

Podco is a Sudbury-based electronic product design and manufacturing company. Podco has been providing new and innovative technology solutions to companies in a variety of industries. For more information contact Stephen Podrucky, P.Eng., product designer and founder, at, or 705-822-7521.