Innovation Challenge 2020/2021

ISC3 – International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre

Ready, set, here come the changemakers!

The voting period of the second ISC3 Innovation Challenge that called for innovations in the field of Renewable Energy and Sustainable Chemistry Solutions just ended. It received a large number of top-notch applications from six continents and 28 countries.

Renewable Energy and Sustainable Chemistry Solutions

The Challenge is organized annually with a changing thematic focus, and the final applications selected span a broad range of renewable energy and sustainable chemistry solutions. This year, the ISC3 was specifically looking for sustainable chemistry solutions from fields such as renewable energy supply and greenhouse gas reduction, performance of materials and technologies, chemical production technologies based on carbon neutral energy and CO2 feedstock supply, durability and resilience, renewable energy sources as feedstock supply in chemical transformations, and storage capacity building.

After a long and careful preparation and selection process that already started out in March 2021, the following start-ups made it through to the ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2021 finals competing with 62 further start-up solutions (alphabetic order):

  • BioCORE; Stephan Herrmann, Germany:

BioCORE’s new system design is intended to significantly increase the efficiency of the fuel cell system compared to the state of the art and to enable reversible operation. In this process, excess generation from wind turbines and photovoltaics is converted into synthetic methane by electrolysis and fed into the natural gas grid.

  • Geyser Batteries Oy; Daria Hedberg and Anu Rousku, Finland:

Geyser Batteries Oy develops and manufactures a new class of high-power, water-based, non-lithium batteries, which are capable of over one million fast charging cycles even at ultra-low ambient temperatures. The batteries have the lowest carbon footprint across the industry and are competitively priced.

  • IC2R Innovative; Michele Aresta, Italy:

IC2R developed an effective photochemical CO2-recycling process enabling conversion of alcohols into linear carbonates, using CO2 in solventless conditions or in water. The abundant metals (non-precious) which are used as catalyst are recoverable and reusable in an innovative process that minimizes waste production.

  • LeafyLife; Peter Gachanja, Kenya:

LeafyLife is improving lives of families, women, and youth in Sub-Saharan Africa by converting waste diapers and sanitary pads into clean and affordable cooking fuel. Thereby contributing to better air quality and less respiratory diseases in rurally situated African homes and saving the environment by considerably reducing the output of critical greenhouse gas.

  • Shobab Energy; Oluwatosin George, Nigeria:

Shobab Energy is using waste from oil palm-productions as biomass resource in combination with solar photovoltaics to provide universal access to modern energy services. These decentralized systems allow 85 million Nigerians to gain access to more sustainable electricity and prevent smoke pollution.

  • ESy-Labs GmbH; Tobias Gärtner, Germany:

ESy-Labs produces specialty chemicals as well as pharmaceutical compounds through electrosynthesis instead of the use of unsustainable, expensive, toxic and stoichiometric reagents. In addition, high-throughput screening and AI will support scale up from existing lab to technical scale.

  • UP Catalyst; Gary Urb, Estonia:

UP Catalyst uses molten salt carbon capture and electrochemical transformation to reprocess CO2 and produce valuable carbonaceous nanomaterials that can be used in top quality materials which have a vast range of applications, e.g. in battery and supercapacitor technologies.

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to our international judging panel of 30 independent reviewers, amongst which ISC3 partner organization representatives, ISC3 Advisory Board members, and individually assigned external experts, who made it possible to professionally assess all applications on a very high level.

All finalists will get access to the customized support of the ISC3 Global Startup Service (ISC3 GSS) Programme in the form of an online start-up training. They will be featured via the ISC3 communication channels as a “lighthouse case study for sustainable chemistry innovation”.

On the basis of their presentation in the end of the training, five finalists will be shortlisted and given the chance to compete to win EUR 15.000 and pitch on November 11th, 2021 late afternoon CET during the upcoming all virtual third ISC3 Investor Forum 2021 that will be held in the frame of the first online ISC3 Sustainable Chemistry Week 2021.

To learn more about our ISC3 Innovation Challenge Award nominee’s, and to register for the ISC3 Investor Forum 2021, please visit

The ISC3 Investor Forum 2021 is a must attend event for international VCs and angel investors that are looking to invest in innovative sustainable chemistry technologies.

ISC3 Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Chemistry and Renewable Energies: First Application Round closed

The first application round for the ISC3 Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Chemistry and Renewable Energies ended on March 31st 2021. The ISC3 Innovation Hub will select and notify eligible applicants for the application round two from the 50 successfully submitted applications until April 15th, 2021.

The successful applicants from round one will be able to apply for the second round from April 15th to May 31st 2021.

In case you missed the application deadline for the ISC3 Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Chemistry and Renewable Energies, but would be interested in joining the ISCGlobal Start-up Service, please have a look here.

ISC3 Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Chemistry and Renewable Energies


The International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3) launched the call for applications for the ISC3 Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Chemistry and Renewable Energies. The ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2020/2021 addresses innovators from around the world which are active in developing sustainable chemistry solutions linked to renewable energies. Five finalists will receive access to the customized support within the ISC3 Global Start-up Service as well as pitch training, networking possibilities and visibility via the ISC3 communication channels.
In the frame of the November-held Investor Forum 2021, the winner of the Innovation Challenge 2021 will be awarded a monetary prize of 15,000 EUR. In addition, the winners of two further categories, namely “Best Social Impact” and “Best Regional Impact”, will receive monetary prizes of 5.000 EUR each. All three winners will also gain Digital Award Credentials including certificate and badge. Contest applications will be accepted from 0:00 a.m. (CET) December 18, 2020 until 0:00 a.m. (CEST) April 1, 2021.

The ISC3 Innovation Challenge aims to engage, award and promote sustainable chemistry innovators and their original solutions, since the transformation of the chemical sector plays a key role towards achieving most of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The ISC3 Innovation Challenge is held annually and is thematically oriented on an annually selected focus topic. The first ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2019/20 called for innovations in the field of Sustainable Living and Building. The second ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2020/2021 is dedicated to innovative Sustainable Chemistry and Renewable Energy solutions, such as:

  • Sustainable chemistry solutions for renewable energy supply and greenhouse gas reduction
  • Performance of materials and technologies
  • Chemical production technologies based on carbon neutral energy and CO2 feedstock supply
  • Durability and resilience
  • Renewable energy sources as feedstock supply in chemical transformations
  • Storage capacity building

Proposals submitted by innovators and entrepreneurs from developing countries and tackling challenges in developing countries are particularly encouraged, as are proposals coming from female entrepreneurs.


After the proposal evaluation period (June 1 – July 9, 2021), the five finalists will be officially announced after July 15, 2021. The Innovation Challenge Award Ceremony will be held in the frame of the Investor Forum in November 2021.