Sustainability

Finalists for circular start-up prize named

Six start-ups addressing the circular economy from across Europe have been named as finalists for the Green Alley Awards 2015.

The competition was launched in 2014 by Green Alley Investment GmbH and the German crowdfunding platform Seedmatch to highlight new ideas for meeting challenges posed by ‘throw-away societies, resource scarcity and the recovery of raw materials’.

The European Recycling Platform (ERP) UK and the London accelerator Bethnal green Ventures joined the awards as partners this year to promote participation from British start-ups.

Applications were received from 100 start-ups from 17 countries, with the six finalists coming from the UK, Ireland, Israel and Germany.

The finalists will now travel to Berlin on 4 November to give a three-minute pitch to a judging panel comprised of figures from start-up and recycling industries.

The winner will then be decided and will receive a package of benefits valued by Green Alley at €20,000 (£14,800), as well as ‘a chance at financing the project through investment or crowdsourcing’.

Last year, the award’s first, winners included Helsinki-based RePack, which pitched an idea for a reusable packaging system for e-commerce; Cologne-based FoodLoop, which pitched for the development of a mobile app that could help reduce food waste; and GreenLab, a Berlin-based company that aimed to develop a vegan and organic fertilizer made of waste from cocoa production.

Details of the finalists

Adaptavate (UK) – The British start-up has developed what it says is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plasterboard. Up to 75 per cent of ‘Breathaboard’ is made from agricultural waste and is fully compostable. Adaptavate says that more than 500,000 tonnes of plasterboard enter construction waste streams every year, either as off-cuts from new buildings or scrap from demolition.

Binee (Germany) – The German company has developed a ‘smart bin’ to optimise the collection and recycling of electronic waste. Consumers in Germany can now return their used electrical and electronic devices at major retailers. A camera in the bin is intended to streamline the process for retailers by automatically recognising the deposited device, while a paired app provides the user with information about their waste and rewards bonus points for deposits.

Entocycle (UK) – By breeding hermetia illucens, a black soldier fly, Entocycle seeks to address the environmental impact of agricultural land being used for growing feed for meat-producing animals. The flies’ larvae feed on food waste and create an animal feed rich in protein and nutrients, while reducing the volume of food waste.

InFarm (Germany/Israel) – To address the issue of food waste being created during transit and storage, InFarm is developing vertical greenhouses that can be used in supermarkets, restaurants and office buildings. This, it says, will enable fresh fruit and vegetables to be grown in low-space areas, removing the need to transport fresh food and create waste.

Solstrøm Furniture (Germany) – Solar powered photovoltaic (PV) systems have a 20-year lifespan, with Europe’s first wave of PV disposal due soon. Through upcycling, Solstrøm seeks to extend the lifespan of PV modules to become designer office tables or to supply mobile phones and laptops with solar power.

Voltechnik (Ireland) – Addressing the issues of recycling toxic substances like mercury and liquid crystals in LCD televisions, Voltechnik has developed an automated process that removes toxic elements, facilitating the work of electronic waste recyclers.

Applications are ‘evidence of innovative thinking that Europe needs’

Jan Patrick Schulz, Managing Director of Green Alley Investment GmbH, commented: “The development of new approaches to and solutions for the handling of resources and waste is a task that doesn’t stop at national borders.

“With the Green Alley Award, we have created an incentive for young entrepreneurs to turn their attention towards the enormous potential of waste as a resource and to develop business models for a sustainable circular economy. For us, the fact that 100 start-ups from 17 countries took up this challenge is a positive signal and evidence of the innovative thinking that Europe urgently needs.”

Jens-Uwe Sauer, CEO of Seedmatch, added: “The number and quality of the applications demonstrates the potential in sustainable business models. We’re delighted that across Europe, start-ups want to develop ecological innovations and introduce them on the market, thereby generating fresh impulses economically and socially. In the end, some really exciting trends emerged. We’re thus eager to meet the founder teams at the finals in November and hear their live pitches.” 

Find out more about the Green Alley Award 2015.

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