Want to be inspired? Need some optimism about our ability to kick the carbon emissions habit? Wonder if there are any new, innovative ideas that could create real change?
I just had a healthy dose of inspiration and hope for the future. It’s been an exciting couple of days in Amsterdam where I served for my fourth year as a juror in the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge. Over 300 entrants from 57 countries competed for a grand prize of €500,000 and runners-up prizes of €100,000 each. A preliminary jury reviewed all entries over the past weeks, resulting in a slate of five amazing finalists.
After reading about the finalists’ brilliant ideas, studying their business plans and financials, hearing their passionate pitches and interviewing each of them, our international jury of eight members, including chairman Sir Richard Branson, announced the winners. Every year, the quality of entries improves, and the decision gets more difficult. And as jurors, we know it’s our responsibility to make sure the prize money is well spent.
I was honored to present our jury report to the Green Challenge audience, who had just heard all of the pitches and asked their own great questions. It was remarkable how much excitement and suspense was in the air. It was more than the curiosity about who would win the prizes—I think it signified hope for all of us about the potential for innovation to be a serious game changer.
Submissions for the prize must show how their creative product or service will reduce carbon emissions, get to market within two years, be scalable, be disruptive to the industry, and hopefully empower citizens. Yes, bold is gold.
Today’s grand prizewinner, BioMason, represented by Ginger Dosier of the United States, met all of the criteria...and then some. With the potential to rid the brickmaking process of 800,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide, this "brick growing" business can accelerate dramatically with the prize money. The two runners up, Ofoil and Ampyx Power, represented respectively by Dutch men Patrick Heuts and Wolbert Allaart, had unique and interesting approaches for change. Patrick's Ofoil, a biomimetic propulsion system for river barges, designed after a dolphin tail, can reduce fuel use by 50 percent. Wolbert's PowerPlane has the potential to cost effectively capture more wind energy than a turbine. The other finalists, both from the United States, had exciting innovations as well. Fenugreen’s FreshPaper, invented by Kavita Shukla to keep produce fresh for longer, and Allison Greenlee's SachSiSolar Clean Liner for cutting carbon and waste from the PV manufacturing process, are both promising businesses that we should all watch.
Congratulations to all of the finalists, who are winners whether or not they won a prize. The network of Postcode Lottery friends, prior Green Challenge winners, investors who follow the Green Challenge, and the Doen Foundation’s new Deep Dive initiative for finalists will all help ensure that these innovations get every possible chance of success.
Read more about the Green Challenge—get inspired!
Image courtesy of Roy Beusker