The clim@ 2020 finals were held online today and the top 15 startups held virtual presentations to the judges. They decided Beyond Leather from Denmark was the best project, with its vegan product for the fashion industry. The contest is organized by Finance in Motion on behalf of the Green for Growth Fund (GGF).
Renewable energy, circular economy solutions, energy and resource efficiency were the focal points of the clim@ competition this year. A jury of five decided a Danish startup that makes a clean and biodegradable leather substitute deserves the first prize – EUR 15,000. The winner, Beyond Leather Materials, currently uses apple pulp but it intends to expand to other commodities.
Finance in Motion organized the contest on behalf of the Green for Growth Fund. “These are turbulent and challenging times that demand our immediate attention, yet there is also a need to keep our longer-term (sustainable) future in focus,” said Chairperson of the Board of Directors of GGF Olaf Zymelka.
The finals were held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. The judges saw the presentations of 15 entrants selected for the event and spoke to their representatives.
The candidates were required to think out of the box and come up with radical ways to make a change but also to identify market potential
The members of the jury were picked for their experience in the startup scene, technology and management. They are PEM Motion’s CEO and Partner Christoph Deutskens, Germantech’s Managing Director Maria Gross, Garanti BBVA’s Head of Sustainable Finance Derya Özet Yalgı, the Impact Collective’s Founder Sebastien Martin and the Good Tech Lab’s Cofounder Manuella Cunha Brito. Lloyd Stevens, Director at Finance in Motion, moderated the event.
The main criteriums were innovation, impact and business case. The candidates were required to think out of the box and come up with radical ways to make a change but also present market potential and their plan to tap on it. While Beyond Leather works with a byproduct in food and beverage production, the second- and third-ranked competitors focused on how to avoid wasting food.
Moldova, Ukraine, Egypt, Germany and Turkey were the countries with the most applications this time.
Beyond Leather Materials
Cofounder and CEO of Beyond Leather Mikael Edyt said it operates in the high end of the market when it comes to quality. The design options for the material are wider than for leather, the firm underscored and revealed its aim for orders this year is 10,000 square meters.
The company uses just five kilograms of apple pulp to make a square meter of its leather substitute
Apple pulp is widely available and often wasted. Beyond Leather said 600,000 tons per year is produced in Europe alone. The company uses just five kilograms to manufacture a square meter of the leather substitute. Edyt claimed it is as good as the real thing. He noted the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters with one tenth of all greenhouse gas emissions. On top of that, leather production is heavily chemical-intensive.
The company said it is open to other vegan and fossil fuel–free alternatives for clothing materials. It found end users increasingly demand such solutions. The switch to apple leather can save 85% of carbon emissions, according to the presentation.
Farmers have a major issue with spoiled food. ColdHubs from Nigeria, the runner-up in this year’s clim@, opted to offer a pay-as-you-store model for its solar-powered cold rooms. It already has dozens of hubs in the country and counts on vast space for expansion there.
CEO Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu told the judges that 45% of fruit and vegetables perish in the developing world, translating to a 25% loss in income for small farmers. ColdHubs, which won EUR 10,000 at the contest, builds, commissions and operates the equipment. It claims the technology extends shelf life to as much as three weeks.
The third prize, EUR 5,000, went to Turkey’s Whole Surplus. Project Manager Pamir Yanik said the business creates value out of unsold food inventory. In particular, it runs a secondary sale digital platform, but also a donation system for items close to the expiry date.
The third module is for waste management, matching suppliers with entities that can turn goods into animal feed or biogas, for example. Metro Cash and Carry, Mondelez and HiPP are among Whole Surplus’s partners. It expressed the ambition to start operating in Russia, Germany and Italy.
Waste was the main inspiration for Manyfolds, too, however its solution is based on resource efficiency. Its packaging machines first scan items for shipment and the software optimizes packaging to save room.
The German-based firm boasts of inventing “the perfect box.” It says that, compared to standard packaging, the equipment shrinks the volume by 40%. Additionally, businesses that ship out products don’t need to stuff boxes with more material to cushion the goods.
The German startup’s “perfect box” saves room, material, time and fuel in delivery
The biggest benefit in climate terms may actually be in saving space in delivery vehicles and aircraft, cutting fuel consumption. Moreover, Manyfolds has a digital tool for packing delivery trucks more effectively.
Biodiesel Misr from Egypt, handler of used cooking oil, managed to recuperate after a fire destroyed its manufacturing facility. The fifth-ranked project in clim@ 2020 says it is back on its feet and that it is already in talks with investors in Africa to build other biodiesel plants.
In yet another approach to waste, the startup’s concept is no leftovers and no emissions. Biodiesel Misr, which has a contract with Mercedes-Benz in Munich, says Egyptians produce 2.2 billion liters of used cooking oil per year. The firm said that if it was processed, it could cover half a year of electricity consumption in the whole of Cairo.
Balkan Green Energy News was one of more than thirty partners that supported clim@ 2020.