The Challenge of Judging the Green Challenge

At last week’s Green Challenge, the largest annual and international green business plan competition, hosted and funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the jury was presented with five worthy finalists, chosen from nearly 400 entries from 57 countries. As a jury member, it was inspiring—and challenging—to learn details and hear from each entrant in order to determine the winner and runner up. All of the finalists were passionate and well prepared.

The top prize, €500,000 ($647,000), went to Bio-bean, founded and represented by Arthur Kay from the UK. This startup is very close to commercialization, when it will upcycle tons of coffee bean waste to biodiesel and biomass pellets. The runner up prize of €200,000 ($259,000) was won by Trang Tran and her team at Fargreen, who reminded everyone, with her huge smile, to “go far by going green.” Fargreen has developed a business that uses rice straw as a substrate for Vietnamese rice farmers to grow mushrooms. The mushrooms are grown in Fargreen greenhouses on the farmers’ property between rice harvests, increasing the farmers’ income and avoiding air pollution from burning the straw.

Other finalists included Bluerise from the Netherlands, developing energy systems that use temperature differences in the oceans to generate electricity and cooling; Turbosail from France, manufacturing efficient wind propulsion technology for seagoing vessel operators; and One Night’s Tent from the Netherlands, pioneering a recyclable campsite for festivals.

This was the Dutch Postcode Lottery’s 8th Green Challenge, with the largest audience ever. Over its eight years, €5,600,000 ($7,247,000) in prizes have been awarded. The past seven winners joined the event this year and it was encouraging and exciting to hear how their businesses have grown and matured, thanks in large part to their winning the Green Challenge.

Learn more about the Green Challenge. And get ready to be part of the exciting final round in 2015. If you are—or you know—an entrepreneur with a proposed innovative product or service that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, can be commercialized within two years, and uses Cradle2Cradle design principles, the Green Challenge could be for you! Entries will be open between March and June 2015.

Image courtesy of the Dutch Postcode Lottery.