Six European startups have been selected as finalists for the third Green Alley Award, a prize that rewards business models and products that can improve resource conservation. Waste-reducing apps, a food packaging system, and a CO2-absorbing urban “tree” are among those in the running.
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.’ 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.
The 2016 finalists include:
- Das Tiffin Projekt – Based in Berlin, this startup aims to significantly reduce packaging waste with a ‘returnable lending system’ for restaurant take-out packaging. Registered restaurants are able to offer their customers the option of picking up food without all the packaging, instead bringing it home in a reusable stainless steel box.
- Design by Sol – United Kingdom (UK)-based startup Design by Sol has been making headlines for its Bump Mark food expiry label that better reflects the freshness of food products than a traditional date label. The solution is intended to reduce consumers’ confusion and reduce some of the 123kg of food each European Union citizen throws away annually.
- Glowee – This French start-up 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 – Part advertising panel, part living, air-cleaning installation, this German startup’s City Tree can absorb 100kg of carbon dioxide annually – the equivalent of about 275 regular trees. What’s more, it is autonomously powered by photovoltaics, rainwater, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Green City Solutions recently won the runner-up prize in the 2016 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge.
- ResQ Club – This Finland-based startup has developed an app to reduce food waste by providing restaurants with a way to turn leftovers into revenue. Similar to the ‘Too Good to Go’ app launched in the UK earlier this year, ResQ Club’s app allows customers to purchase leftover food in their neighborhood for a lower price.
- Restado – German startup Restado has created a digital platform that supports the DIY trend growing in home construction, renovation and craft projects by allowing even small amounts of materials to find buyers. Users can buy and sell residual, unneeded materials, rather than tossing or storing them.
The competition received nearly 200 business ideas from across Europe. The finalists will pitch their ideas to an international audience on October 27, where a 6-person jury of circular economy experts will select the winner.
Brands for Good: Guiding consumer behavior change
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Stateside, Target recently launched a new website, Startups.Target.com, that invites pitches from early-stage companies who are interested in runner pilot programs with the big-box retailer. The company wants to use the portal to find new technology platforms that enhance the customer experience in its stores and through its digital channels; products for its shelves or online will have to continue to follow the more traditional routes for now.
The site says it only takes 15 minutes to fill out a “Pitch to Pilot” form, and promises a response from Target within 30 days.
“Pitch to Pilot” builds on Target’s previous work with Techstars, a well-known startup accelerator. The two organizations recently graduated their first class of 11 startups from a three-month accelerator program, and will host at least two more such programs in the coming years. Applications for the summer 2017 program will open in January.