Six new innovative startups shortlisted for European circular award

Apps targeting food and DIY waste and a CO2–absorbing urban tree are among the innovations chosen as finalists for this year’s Green Alley Award.

The six European finalist start-ups will all be in contention for the third Green Alley Award, a prize that rewards business model ideas that can contribute to improved resource conservation.

The competition was launched in 2014 by Green Alley, alongside several award partners including the German crowdfunding platform Seedmatch, London-based accelerator program Bethnal Green Ventures, and the European Recycling Platform in Finland, to highlight new ideas for meeting challenges posed by ‘throw-away societies, resource scarcity and the recovery of raw materials’.

Green City Solutions' City Tree, made of moss culture and powered through photovoltaics, rainwater, and IoT technology.

Details of the finalists

Das Tiffin Projekt – The average EU citizen produces 160 kilogrammes (kg) of packaging waste each year. Berlin-based start-up Das Tiffin Projekt aims to significantly reduce this figure, through using a returnable lending system that enables registered restaurants to offer their customers the option of picking up food without all the packaging, transporting it home in a reusable stainless steel box.

Design by Sol – UK start-up Design by Sol and its Bump Mark, a food expiry label outfitted with gelatin aims to help consumers determine the freshness of their food products like meat and fish by scanning to see if it can be consumed, or if it is no longer edible after its best-before date. Sol hopes the sticker will reduce the 123kg of food each EU citizen throws away annually through assuring edible things are savoured to their full extent.

Das Tiffin Projekt's returnable lending system
Glowee – French start-up Glowee wants to leverage the power of bacteria that can generate light on its own or through symbiosis. Based on a concept from the natural world, Glowee presents the market with a technology that could ‘significantly reduce’ the nineteen per cent of global electricity demand used to supply street lamps and other light sources.

Green City Solutions – The German start-up Green City Solutions has a smart fix that doubles as an advertising panel: the City Tree, an installation made of moss culture and powered autonomously through photovoltaics, rainwater, and ‘Internet of Things’ technology. A single City Tree absorbs 100kg of CO2 annually – which would otherwise require 275 trees, thereby ensuring clean air as well as a pleasant urban climate.

ResQ Club –Finland’s ResQ Club has developed an app to help reduce the millions of tonnes of food is thrown away every year, by giving leftovers a second chance and providing restaurants with a way to turn waste into revenue. Through the app, customers can use an app to purchase leftover food in their neighbourhood for a lower price, much like the ‘Too Good to Go’ app launched in Brighton and London this year.

Restado – After home construction, renovation, or craft projects, consumers are often faced with the question of what to do with the residual materials, while those in the industry are also often left with large amounts of unneeded materials. German start-up Restado says there is ‘no alternative’ to digitisation, even in the construction sector, and has created a digital platform that supports the DIY trend, allowing even small amounts of materials to find buyers.

Applications show ‘challenges are being identified in completely new ways’

This year, the competition received nearly 200 business ideas from across Europe, with the selected finalists coming from the UK, France, Finland and Germany. The six teams have been chosen to pitch their ideas to an international audience on 27 October, from which a six-person jury of circular economy experts will select the winner.

Adaptavate, last year's winners
The winning company will win a prize package of cash and services worth up to €30,000 (£23,000). In addition, the winner will have the opportunity to raise funds through crowd-funding or investments and to participate in an accelerator programme at Bethnal Green Ventures.

Last year, the award went to British company Adaptavate, a start-up developing an ‘eco-friendly’ alternative to traditional plasterboard, comprised of up to 75 per cent agricultural waste.

This year’s Green Alley Award is showing particular interest in ‘building a bridge between Berlin, London and Helsinki’, which the investment firm says are start-up hubs serving as pioneers of the circular economy. Green Alley says that the cities are ‘role models’ and it hopes to see an idea that can ‘initiate synergies between these capitals and other cities in Europe’.

‘’We received applications from 52 countries,” says Jan Patrick Schulz, CEO of Green Alley Investment GmbH. “This figure proves that entrepreneurs from Europe and beyond are getting excited about the circular economy, developing business models that can contribute to improved resource conservation.

‘’These founders are developing sustainable and economic concepts to tackle problems from everyday life. ’It’s exciting to see how much is happening in this area and how challenges are being identified and approached in completely new ways.’’

More information about the Green Alley Award can be found on the award's website.

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