Inspiring The Next Generation

How Shell use Twine to connect students around the world

A Unique Competition

A gigantic sail to harvest dew. A clever app to reduce food waste. A water filter system that delivers enough water for 500 people at an affordable price.

These are all ideas from Shell’s innovation competition: Ideas360. Every year Shell invites students from around the world to tackle the pressures on the world’s food, water and energy resources – attracting the sharpest young minds from around the world submit their ideas.

We were invited to bring it all together.

The Problem of Dispersed Users

The premise of the competition was good: students were itching to sign up and Shell had the team in place to make it happen. What they lacked, however, were the tools to bring the people and ideas together in one hub.

This hub needed to be designed like a consumer app: the sort that these students access every day on their iPhones – thoughtfully designed and accessible from any device.

In years gone by, this might have meant developing a platform from scratch. Luckily for Shell, there is now another option.

Developing Custom Modules

Twine ticked all of Shell’s boxes: easy to use, great on mobile and simple to setup.

However, Shell also had some specialist requirements that our standard platform doesn’t cover. To deal with this we brought in our design and development partners, Browser London, to assist. As a design and development studio, they can develop custom modules that bolt onto Twine, giving clients access to the specialist tools they require.

So, with the Browser team’s help, we sat down with Shell and sketched up their specialist requirements. In less than a month, Shell had a module that was specially developed just for them, sitting in the menu along with the others. Fast and flexible: we believe this is how software should work.

Encouraging Engagement

The competition aimed to bring students from all over the world to come together, form teams and collaborate with one another. Providing entrants with the right tools to do this was essential. A careful balance needed to be struck: having too many tools would cause confusion; too few and it could be limiting.

With our guidance, the Shell team focused on three key modules that were going to be needed for engagement: Forums, Teams and Blogs. Working closely with Shell we helped monitor engagement using Twine’s integration with Google Analytics and interviewing users. Using this data, the system was tweaked, features were added and submissions went up and up.

Integrating With Google Hangouts

Since it stretches over many months, continued engagement was essential to Ideas360. To keep interest up, Shell’s competition team formulated an engagement plan that involved producing regular blog content, email bulletins and forum activity. The real jewel in the crown, however, were the live webinars using Google Hangouts.

Integrating Hangouts into Twine’s forum module, Shell were able to live stream interviews of past winners to students all over the world. Warmly received, these interviews were key in keeping the momentum up throughout the long-running competition. Flexible and easy to integrate, that’s how we try to keep Twine.

“This was a new, experimental competition, so it was important that we could partner with a provider that would work with us to adapt the platform as the competition evolved. That partner was Twine.”


Jenniffer Gearheart – Tang, Global Innovation & Research Manager, Shell Ideas360



The Results

Submissions up by 35%

3,278 users from over 100 countries

3668 messages sent

3620 forum views

twine about us built different

And some groundbreaking ideas…

In the heart of Morro da Mineira, a favela in Rio de Janeiro, Shell took a rundown football pitch and powered it with kinetic and solar energy.


Thanks to 200 kinetic tiles, the people of Morro da Mineira now have a renewable source of electricity to help power their pitch’s floodlights. The community can use this sports facility as a well-lit place to gather and play football well into the evening.


We’re proud to be involved.