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.

Looking back on the competition, the winner of the 2013 Green Challenge Ginger Dosier points out that it is not competitive at all. "On the contrary: the feeling of belonging to this wonderful family was and is the most fun thing about it!"

“The whole experience was surreal and everything went seamless. I went home a different person than I came, in a good way. More shaped. And everything was so well organised, there were no problems, everything was thoughtful.”

There is a lot at stake: 500,000 euros for the winner and 200,000 for the runner-up, prize money that will allow them to kick-start their businesses. For the past days the finalists have been trained by Rockstart, have had pointers from Green Challenge Winners Eben Bayer, Scot Frank and Ginger Dosier and have lifted their presentations to impressive heights. They are ready and so is the audience.