Dutch Postcode Lottery gives green start-ups a chance to break through with annual competition

An injection of €500,000 is what stands to be won at the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, one of the largest annual international competitions in the field of sustainability innovation. ARED and EarthEnable from Rwanda, Glowee from France, Ligthyear from the Netherlands and Pond from Denmark are the five start-ups that made it to the finale and which are still in the running for the grand prize.

They will present their business plans to an international jury, the press and the public on 14 September in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. During the final, it will be announced who will go home with the grand prize of half a million euros. The runner-up will receive €200,000.

The five finalists Henri Nyakarundi (40), founder of the Rwandan start-up ARED, created a solar mobile kiosk to bring low-cost WiFi and power to poor rural Africans. ARED offers a clean alternative to diesel generators to potentially hundreds of millions of people, and further contributes to reducing CO2 emissions by demonstrating the potential of renewable energy for African small businesses, as well as through its franchisees as ambassadors for green energy.

Gayatri Datar (31), co-founder of EarthEnable, another start-up from Rwanda, helps to empowers some of the world’s poorest people, who often have to live on dirt floors. These floors are a breeding ground for mosquitos, parasites and all of the diseases that come with them. Until now, the only alternative was cement, which is expensive and has a large carbon footprint. EarthEnable’s floors are made from local, natural materials and offer a cheap, durable and sustainable solution.

Sandra Rey (27), co-founder of the French start-up Glowee, created an electricity-free light source by using bioluminescent microbes. This innovative technology could provide natural illumination for urban buildings, cutting emissions from conventional lighting while beautifying the streetscape and lowering visual pollution.

Lex Hoefsloot (26), co-founder of the Dutch start-up Lightyear, is developing a fully solar-powered car. As a student, he won the World Solar Challenge Cruiser Class with his energy efficient family car in 2013. His next step was to make a sexy and user friendly solar car, and more importantly, to make it independent of the infrastructure of charging stations and force a global breakthrough for electric driving. Armed with prototypes, the company aims to go to market soon.

Thomas Pedersen (48), co-founder of the Danish start-up Pond, extracts bio-resins from agricultural waste. The bio-resins can be mixed with any natural fibres, like flax and hemp, to make compostable composites. Existing composite processing processes can continue to be applied, which allows conventional resins to be painlessly substituted with no compromises to performance or cost, which is an important aspect. Composted, they’ll feed CO2-absorbing plants, unlike plastic, which is often incinerated, creating CO2.

Finale on 14 September The final is set to take place on 14 September in Amsterdam and can be followed via a livestream on www.greenchallenge.info. Leila Janah, founder of Samasource, is this year’s chair of the international jury.

Last year, the Dutch start-up PHYSEE won the €500,000 first prize. PHYSEE produces the PowerWindow, a completely transparent, energy-generating type of glass. Thanks to an innovative window frame, sunlight that would normally be reflected by the window is turned into electricity.

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