History

 

For a greener world

2006

The Dutch Postcode Lottery has been raising money since 1989 to help charities working for people and the planet. By 2006, calls for action on climate change were growing louder.

At the Postcode Lottery World Meeting, former US President Bill Clinton stressed the need to support green entrepreneurs. We couldn’t have agreed more.

"The fundamental problem is an entrepreneurial, disorganised, undercapitalised opportunity competing against a highly organised, overcapitalised, old-energy economy that still has many, many people in its grip." 

Former US President Bill Clinton

Real solutions

2007

We announced a new annual international competition for CO2-reducing products and services. The prize: half a million euros. The first Green Challenge drew 439 entries from around the world. Sir Richard Branson chaired the jury at the final in Amsterdam.


Magic mushrooms

2008

Ecovative Design, our 2008 winner, has shown us how it’s done. The company grows packaging and insulation materials – and now “meat” and “leather” – from mushrooms. Today its products are used in North America, Europe and Asia. In 2021 it raised $100 million for further expansion.
 

Live from New York

2012

The name of the 2012 winner, Mango Materials, was announced at the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York.
 

Branson’s back

2013

Sir Richard Branson returned in 2013 to chair the jury for the second time.
 

Caffeine-fuelled

2014

Bio-bean grew fast after winning the 2014 Green Challenge. The following year, it built the world’s first industrial-scale coffee recycling factory. Today it’s the world’s largest business of its kind, transforming waste into bioplastics, biofuels and flavourings.

 

Earth’s biggest green business competition

2015

We became the world’s biggest annual international competition for sustainable entrepreneurs in 2015. 

Our winner that year, the reforestation business Land Life Company, developed a biodegradable pot that helps new trees survive. Today it operates in 25 countries. In 2021 it launched a programme Clearing to plant 50,000 trees a year, offsetting around 10,000 tonnes of CO2.

 

Everyone’s a winner

2016

In honour of our 10th anniversary, for the first time we awarded a €100,000 prize to each finalist not named winner or runner-up.

Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands celebrated with us at the 10th Green Challenge final.

 

Rwanda joins the ranks

2017

In 2017 we honoured our first winner from Africa, specifically Rwanda: EarthEnable.

 

Fizzing with potential

2018

The 2018 winner, the Great Bubble Barrier, devised a wall of air bubbles that prevents plastic waste in waterways from reaching the oceans. A year later, the first long-term Bubble Barrier became active in their home city of Amsterdam – the traditional location of the Green Challenge final.

Our 2018 winner was one of three female finalists – another first.

 

Broadening our scope

2019

In 2019 we opened up the competition to products and services that help the planet in other ways besides cutting carbon, such as facilitating climate adaptation.

It was no surprise that we received more entries than ever: an amazing 1,167 from all over the world.

 

Five focus countries

2020

In 2020 we narrowed our focus to start-ups from the Postcode Lotteries countries: Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. We knew we’d find 25 great nominees, and we did. In fact, we ended up with six finalists, representing all five countries.

The final took place over Zoom. The winner was announced on Dutch TV the following January.

"I encourage everybody around the world with a great green idea to enter this prestigious contest. One smart, creative idea can make a huge difference." – Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group