11 September 2014: The champagne bottles are empty, the victory speech has been held and congratulations have been exchanged.

For the 2014 finalists, the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge did not end at the award ceremony though. Besides the newfound attention and opportunities that the biggest international competition for green innovation brings to Green Challenge finalists in general, they were all given the opportunity to take part in an intense 10-day program at Rockstart to help them get their business to the next level and overcome their most important challenge.

Ask not: Can this product be built? Instead, ask: Should this product be built? and Can we build a sustainable business around this? Or as Eric Ries, founder of the Lean Startup, puts it: “It’s not about making stuff efficiently, but efficiently figuring out which stuff to make.”

A haven for troublemakers, philosophers and dreamers since the 16th century, the Netherlands is now styling itself as a contemporary refuge for the start-up crowd. The national virtues of tolerance and versatility reach their peak in Amsterdam, where founders are welcomed with comfortably low tax rates and are in easy cycling distance of collaborators, incubators and investors.”

Guest blogpost by Trang Tran, founder of Fargreen. They won the runner-up prize of €200,000 in the 2014 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge

2014 was a dream ride for 2014 runner-up Fargreen, says founder Trang Tran.

The business has been going really well. We have had a huge amount of interest both nationally and internationally.

We have developed our team, taking on a number of fantastic scientists and engineers and have already begun work expanding our industrial facility.

What really happened during the five days that the finalists in the 2014 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge were in Amsterdam?

The Green Challenge is more than just a pitch on stage. The finalists usually arrive 5 days before the main event. Once they're settled in, a gruelling (but fun) preparation programme gets them ready for the jury pitches.

Arthur Kay and his company Bio-Bean took first prize in the 2014 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, winning €500,000 to develop their business. The London-based company collects spent coffee grounds from local businesses and uses them to manufacture biodiesel and biomass pellets.

After a successful first edition, Rockstart has opened applications for their second Smart Energy Accelerator that will kick off in January 2015. Apply before October 7!

Rockstart Smart Energy Accelerator is a programme designed to support startups. Help them create, develop and market their innovative products better, faster and more successfully, allowing them to navigate the challenging and difficult early stages of starting up.

Interview by guest writer Tessa Weber

As a world-renowned sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur made an interesting career choice several years ago. She decided to head for a fully circular economy worldwide and founded the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, growing from 4 to 35 employees in only four years. As determined as she was setting a new world record for solo sailing around the globe, she is now in reaching her new goal.