Cascades is a paper and packaging company that produces, converts, and sells packaging and tissue products made primarily from recycled fibers. Founded in 1964 in Kingsey Falls, Quebec, the Society was created by the Lemaire brothers. They became aware of the economic and social potential that could be generated by setting up a company mainly focused on sustainable development, adhering to the principles of reuse, recovery and recycling. More than 50 years later, the company consists of 11,000 women and men working in more than 90 operating units located in North America and Europe. The Company is currently positioned in four business segments: Containerboard packaging, Flat board (Europe), Specialty products, and Tissue paper.

Through this challenge, Cascades wants to improve and optimize the entire value chain of corrugated cardboard boxes by reducing the costs of packaging, of warehousing in distribution centers, and electronic order preparation for their customers, who are manufacturers and distributors of consumer goods and industrial products.

Cascades’ goal is to support their customers in solving their challenges of orchestrating the processes and techniques that lead to box optimization for their packaging, warehousing and logistics chain. To do this, Cascades wants to optimize their corrugated cardboard box design processes by adopting a strategic approach that takes into account different elements specific to the packaging value chain. Several elements have an impact on the actual cost of a packaging solution, including:


Material costs, choice of cardboard types, number of box skus in a client portfolio, required stacking capacity, handling efficiency

Packaging lines

Choice of formats, volume, labor, equipment, level of human intervention

Storage and transport

Storage costs, packaging inventory management, floor space, arrangement of storage supports, handling labor, loading capacity

Proactively managing packaging costs as a function of the impact on packaging, warehousing, and transportation presents the greatest overall savings opportunity, leading to a tangible impact on Cascades customers’ operating margin. Cascades’ sales team, supported by their various packaging box design experts, seeks to improve its ability to see beyond operational silos in order to be able to improve costs, quality, service and margins. Avenues for optimizing boxes are explored and several benefits are sought:

  • Benefit from an online personalization and decision support tool for the transactional site.
  • Support in customized box cutting decision-making for specific large format and small quantity content combinations.
  • Access to a systemic and/or specific approach to reduce the costs of designing and making use of the box.
  • Synchronize the relationship between the various departments of Cascades and the client to achieve the lowest total cost.
  • Benefit from an analysis, diagnostic and decision support tool which focuses on the impacts of the box design on the entire value chain.
  • Develop a data processing and analysis capacity in order to continuously improve the design processes of the custom packaging box and/or the packaging box for non-standard and large format products.
  • Develop an automated decision-making capacity for box model selection based on repetitive requests or anticipated production volumes.
  • Reduce material, handling and storage costs while limiting product damage through box performance.
  • Improve the box buying process by taking into account the configuration of the pallets, optimal density to maximize shipment volume, while reducing transportation costs generated by higher density than necessary.
  • Reduce transport costs by taking into account the configuration of the pallets and the loading capacity.



Acquire a major customer and the opportunity to create a commercial collaboration with an organization focused on sustainable development and adhering to the principles of reuse, recovery and recycling


Directly access certain key decision-makers in order to align your collaboration proposal


Access to a financial contribution to test your solution and your performance/business hypotheses in the form of a proof of concept


Access Cascades’ expertise in the packaging industry

expected solutions

Cascades wishes to develop collaborations with innovative companies that develop solutions that would allow their box designers as well as their representatives to improve and optimize the packaging value chain for their customers, by offering them products and services that will enable them to achieve greater operational efficiency.

The stakeholders who will benefit from these solutions are the packaging box designers and sales representatives of Cascades, as well as the buyers, operations managers and supply managers of their customers, etc.

Cascades is looking for innovative companies with solutions to help them solve box optimization challenges such as:

  • Packaging specification management software to manage existing packaging solutions and develop new packaging
  • Conceptual exploration tools from CAD to the physical object; testing of functional prototypes with materials closely matching the fibers
  • Technologies that improve box assembly or quality assurance processes
  • An online personalization and decision support tool for the transactional site
  • Customized box cutting decision support for small quantities of specific large format content combinations
  • Quick and affordable tool to communicate designs to customers
  • Packaging performance testing solutions (primary, secondary, tertiary packaging) with capacity to assess the costs of new packaging and predict packaging damage
  • Predictive technology to calculate the optimal price on functional prototypes as well as materials. Ex: estimate number of boxes
  • Sizing systems using AI to explore possible placements and orientations of items in boxes to determine optimal sizing
  • Optimization of the unit load. Solutions for improving the quality of products on a pallet. Includes load testing, horizontal compression analysis, impact testing, and vibration testing
  • Or any other solution to optimize boxes


  • Be a startup
  • Have reached the product-market fit stage
  • Be a team of at least 2 people

Selection criteria

Your product and technology
  • your solution must respond to the problem of this challenge
  • your solution must be currently available on the market and commonly used by customers
  • your solution must be realistic in terms of operational integration
  • your solution must create value for Cascades' customers and/or for Cascades' sales and design teams
Your startup has reached a level of maturity 
  • in terms of sales, funds raised, team size, etc.
  • having been in business for more than two years
Your startup has a strong team
  • experience, credibility, state of mind, skills, vision
Your company
  • can build a solid business proposition to convince the Cascades' management team of a possible commercial collaboration
  • can align with Cascades' sustainable development plan
Your proof of concept (submission of preliminary project)
  • offers calculated and realistic assumptions
  • has clear objectives and performance measures
  • proposes a detailed and reasonable preliminary budget and schedule
  • offers a concrete and quantifiable case
  • can be tested quickly and implemented in a short time horizon

Type of collaboration desired

Depending on the nature of the project and the mutual objectives of collaboration, several options are available to you:
  • Service agreement
  • Partnerships
  • Granting of user licenses
  • Any other type of relevant collaboration

How to participate


Interested startups participate in the challenge. A private informal workshop will take place before the end of the application period. This workshop aims to provide additional information to applying startups and answer questions related to the preparation of their preliminary proof of concept proposal hypotheses.

To participate, applicants must submit:

  1. Application form
  2. Application Power-Point
  3. Proof of concept summary (1-Pager)

You will find more details on the content to be submitted via the application form.


Once the applications are received, Cascades will review the application files. A total of one to three startups will be selected to enter a phase of discussions with Cascades in order to validate whether there is alignment between the needs and the objectives of the challenge. The successful candidate(s) may enter the proof of concept testing period.


The goal of this step is to test potential solutions and prove that startups’ assumptions can be realized within a specific time frame, metrics, and budget. Organized through a series of business meetings with Cascades’ project teams, this phase aims to speed up the POC testing process and the preparation of official business proposals.


Phase 1: Startups Selection

Opening applications

March 22, 2021

Private informal workshop

April 27, 2021

End of applications

May 7, 2021

Announcement of successful and unsuccessful applications

May 28, 2021

Phase 2: Proof of concept

Testing period (proof of concept)

June-September 2021

Business proposals submissions

September 2021

Decision of successful and unsuccessful applications

October 2021

Up for the challenge?

Apply now