​Postcode Lottery Green Challenge

Two TU Delft graduates with Yes!Delft start-ups made the final of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, which took place on September 11, 2014 in Amsterdam.

The international competition aims to help green start-ups bring their innovative, sustainable products and services to market. Prize money of €500,000 is awarded to the winner, with a further €200,000 available for the runner up. 324 people from 57 countries entered their sustainable business plans.

There were just five finalists. Pierre-Yves Cousteau of Turbosail from France, Trang Tran and her company Fargreen from Vietnam and Arthur Kay of Bio-bean from the UK. In the Netherlands, Diego Acevedo and Devin Malone made the cut. Acevedo, originally from Colombia, studied Sustainable Energy Technologies at TU Delft. His company, Bluerise, develops a technology that uses temperature differences in the oceans to generate electricity and cooling. Malone, originally from Alaska, studied Industrial Ecology at TU Delft and Leiden University. His company, One Nights Tent, produces recyclable tents for festivals, and afterwards recycles or composts anything left behind.

The business pitches were heard in the deciding round by an international jury of experts, chaired this year by Ellen MacArthur, British ex solo sailor and founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “I’m impressed with the business plans I have seen today, reaffirming that business innovation is a major force for positive change. Like never before, entrepreneurs have an incredible opportunity to shape the future and I can see bright prospects for these start-ups,” she says.

Sadly, Acevedo and Malone were to leave the competition empty handed. “The Green Challenge was a great experience – the quality of the coaching was very high, and I met a lot of great people,” says Malone. “I was disappointed not to receive any prize money, but I felt I was able to tell my story effectively, and I met some investors who want to follow up. Plus I got a lot of great publicity, including a lot of non-Dutch language press, which up to now has been a challenge.”

The winner was Bio-bean. They use a patented process to upcycle waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuel products, namely biodiesel and biomass pellets, used for powering buildings and transport systems. “With this prize money we can scale up production to other locations throughout the UK. We also want to expand internationally. The cash prize will enable us to develop new technologies and products, securing Bio-bean’s market position,” says Kay of Bio-bean. Fargreen was the runner up. They work with local rice farmers to divert rice straws from burning, their technology uses the straws as a substrate to produce mushrooms. This process stops the release of greenhouse gases and helps farmers increase their income by 50%.

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