ISC3

Innovation Challenge 2019/2020

ISC3 – International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre

Investor Forum 2020 and Winners Innovation Challenge 2019/2020

Investor Forum 2020 brings together innovators, investors and leaders from the Sustainable Chemistry Economy value chain

The Second Edition of the Investor Forum 2020 on Sustainable Chemistry Solutions welcomed over 150 esteemed international guests, amongst which investors, innovators, NGO and industry representatives. During the course of the event that focused on innovations supporting sustainable chemistry solutions and driving the circular economy, the attendees listened to highly topical panel discussions on SDGs and the catalytic role of Sustainable Chemistry, emerging investment vehicles, and the dynamics of innovation eco-systems. They also assisted promising start-up pitches and showcases, discussed possible investment opportunities in private meetings, chose an Audience Award winning pitch for every conference day, and celebrated the 2019/2020 Innovation Challenge Award winner after having witnessed the pitches of the 5 Innovation Challenge finalists on the last event day.

Due to the ongoing Corona risk, the Forum initially planned as an in-person event for May 2020 was postponed and held virtually for the first time. The event was co-hosted by the Think Beyond Plastic™ Innovation Accelerator and the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3), an institution developing and promoting sustainable chemistry solutions worldwide, with its Innovation Hub hosted by DECHEMA. The ISC3 Innovation Hub organised the Investor Forum in the frame of its ISC3 Global Start-up Service, a service that targets innovators along the entire innovation chain and accompanies them on the journey from discovering an innovation to creating marketable value and expanding their business. The service is promoting Sustainable Chemistry entrepreneurs through events such as the Investor Forum and provides both, general and customised support to start-ups from this specific action field.

Each event day foresaw a welcoming note by different speakers, namely: Dr. Andreas Förster, Director of the ISC3 Innovation Hub, Daniella Russo, CEO of Think Beyond Plastic, and Alexis Bazzanella, Co-Director of the ISC3 Innovation Hub.

Among the panellists were experts, such as Christine Wellington-Moore, Programme Advisor, UN Development Programme, Gian deBelder, Technical Director Packaging Sustainability, Procter & Gamble, Pierre Barthélémy, Executive Director of Research and Innovation, Cefic, and Elsbeth Roelofs, Senior Program Manager Sustainable Chemical Business, MVO Nederlands on day 1;  Danya Hakeem, Director of Innovation, Agriculture & Circular Economy, Elemental Excelerator, Marc Leduc, Investment Manager, BASF Venture Capital, Martin Mulvihil, Founding General Partner, Safer Made Fund, and Ludwig Goris, Senior Investment Manager, Capricorn Partners on day 2; As well as Rócio Fonseca, Chief Innovation Officer at the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) and Former CEO of Start-Up Chile, Abdel-Raman Fahmy, Sustainable Business Development Missionary and Chairman, youthinkgreen Egypt, Nitesh Mehta, Convenor of Industrial Green Chemistry World (IGCW) and Founder/Director of Newreka Green Synth Technologies, and Hugo Delissen, Business development manager start-ups, Brightlands Chemelot Campus on day 3.
 “Through the Investor Forum, the ISC3 Innovation Hub promotes sustainable chemistry start-ups and helps them grow by connecting them with valuable partners and investors” said Andreas Förster.

After an inspiring keynote speech on the Transformative Power of Innovation given by Christine Wellington-Moore, expert discussion panels started. International investors, start-ups and international top-notch experts from the field of sustainable chemistry discussed the critical role of sustainable chemistry in supporting innovations to achieve the SDGs, the role of frontier capital and blended financing mechanisms to secure the innovation pipeline, and the dynamics of the innovation eco-system. The second keynote was held by Mr. Ludwig Goris from cleantech investor Capricorn Partners who answered important questions for the cleantech sector, such as why to invest in sustainable chemistry solutions, if and how to earn while doing it, pointing out the synergies and effects of the interface that investments have on the circular economy, and shedding light on what investment themes exactly are connected to reaching the SDGs. The third event day saw the finalist pitches and award ceremony for the Innovation Challenge 2019/2020 in Sustainable Building and Living instead of a keynote.
On all three event days, the panels were complemented by pitches of innovators presenting cutting-edge innovations in the space of sustainable chemistry, and innovation showcases presented via a digitally available investor booklet through which 40 start-ups introduced their ideas in the areas of new product delivery models, sustainable chemistry and new materials for circular economy in front of top-tier investors. Each of the three online event sessions concluded with a 1-on-1 match-making session between start-ups and investors on a separate digital platform, during which founders had the chance to personally pitch their ideas to potential partners. In total, 1644 minutes were streamed in the frame of the virtual Investor Forum 2020.

On each day, the audience was invited to vote for the “best pitch of the day”, and, accordingly,  the following three Audience Award Winners were selected: “KBCols” Day 1, “Primitives” for Day 2, and “Ecoact Tanzania” for Day 3.
The female-led Indian start-up “KBCols” is active in extracting natural pigments and bioactive compounds from microbes and produces new-generation environmentally friendly and sustainable colours. The female-led start-up “Primitives” from the US is pioneering a new paradigm for reducing plastic pollution – by engineering plastics with algae and other bio-based feedstocks. By harnessing nature’s embedded intelligence, they are creating new environmentally sustainable materials with advanced sensing, display, and biodegradation properties. Day 3 Audience Award Winners, the African start-up EcoAct Tanzania, have developed an energy-conserving plastic extrusion technology to recycle and transform post-consumer plastic garbage and packaging materials into durable and long lasting plastic lumbers. As plastics are an affordable alternative to wood timbers in Africa, they help to preserve the forests and prevent further mitigation of climate change.
Highlight of the event was the finalist’ pitching and award ceremony for the first ISC3 Innovation Challenge kicked off in February 2019 and called for innovations in the field of Sustainable Building and Living. Initially, the contest foresaw only a monetary prize for the overall winner, but due to the high quality of the approximately 50 applications, additional categories were created to honour the excellent and outstanding contributions of innovators from all around the globe.

The next and third edition of the annual ISC3 and co-organizing partners Investor Forum is planned for autumn/winter 2021. If you would like to join forces with the ISC3 and for more information on the ISC3 and the next Investor Forum Edition, please visit www.isc3.org.

Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Building and Living 2019/2020 Award Winners and Next Competition Announcement

The winners of the Innovation Challenge were selected and celebrated on the last day of the online Investor Forum on October 23rd. The Innovation Challenge 2019/2020 finalists in the field of Sustainable Living and Building ranked as follows:
Zila Works, USA, Innovation Challenge Award Winner 2019/2020, won a monetary prize of 25,000 EUR. The start-up uses industrial hemp to change the way that plastics are made. ZILA Works’ innovation fills an important niche in the circular economy. A shift away from fossil fuels to the development of renewable sourced materials to provide the virgin feedstock that would still be required to compensate for remaining cycle losses, despite the increased recycling and reuse.

Apart from winning the audiences hearts during their pitch on Day 3 of the event, EcoAct Tanzania also won the Innovation Challenge Award 2019/2020 in the newly created category “Best Social Impact” that is endowed with EUR 5,000. EcoAct Tanzania have developed an energy-conserving plastic extrusion technology to recycle and transform post-consumer plastic garbage and packaging materials into durable and long lasting plastic lumbers. As plastics are an affordable alternative to wood timbers in Africa, they help to preserve the forests and prevent further mitigation of climate change. 

The Award in the newly created category “Best Regional Impact” was given to the Ghanian start-up Ecovon who also won a monetary prize of EUR 5,000. Ecovon is aiming to supply the global market with a formaldehyde-free bio-based wood alternative that is better for the people and planet. This innovative technology positions Ecovon as the first manufacturer of non-additive, bio-based, renewable wood products in the local Ghanaian market.
Beyond these prize winners, honourable mentions for Best Female Founders went out to Ms Jessica Owusu-Boyeake and the MESOCARPE team/Germany for their flexible "Salt Crystal Wall", which is an active biodegradable membrane made from renewable resources and minerals, which regulates indoor air quality by filtering pollutants and bacteria., to Ms Cristina Acuṅa Rougier and the IDEA-TEC team/Chile for their process that permits recycling styrofoam, transforming it into paints for buildings in an efficient and cost-competitive way, and to Ms Lenka Mojau and the MOJAU INNOVENTA team/South Africa for their MCPC solution, which is an interlocking plastic brick product that has many applications in the construction area. MPCP allows for a rapid and affordable building of new houses and can be demolished without causing any damage to the material.
In the last newly created category, an honourable mention was awarded to the Jordan-based start-up AKYAS for providing a regionally impactful, out-of-the-box solution. AKYAS was also covered in the ISC3 SoM series and developed a multi-use compostable bag that can be used in numerous settings regardless of sanitation infrastructure. The bag disinfects pathogens within the feces to prevent disease transmission and includes single-use hygiene products to ensure hand hygiene.

The Call for Innovation regarding the next Innovation Challenge 2021/2022 will start in December 2020 and will focus on sustainable chemistry and renewable energies. More information can be found here.

Finalists of the ISC3 Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Building and Living 2019/20 selected!

*** Update*** Following the online training with Think Beyond™ Innovation Accelerator, five finalists were selected to pitch at the virtual Investor Forum 2020 and compete to win 25,000 Euro. Congratulations to Ecoact Tanzania, Ecovon, Glassolina, Reuse Design Laboratory and Zila Works!

The ISC3 received a total of 47 applications with many top-notch ideas from six continents and over 15 countries, and has therefore decided to enlarge the pool of finalists and nominate eight, instead of five. All eight finalists will receive a travel grant to participate in the expert workshops and the Investor Forum, as well as on-going customized support within the ISC3 Global Start-up Service and visibility through the ISC3 communication channels. The judging panel of the ISC3 Innovation Challenge on Sustainable Building and Living comprised of 16 international, independent reviewers from the ISC3 partner organizations, the ISC3 Advisory Board, and external experts assigned by the ISC3.

As the next step, the finalists will take part in an online training provided by experienced start-up coaches, organized in cooperation with the Think Beyond™ Innovation Accelerator. On the basis of their final pitch presentation at the end of the training, the ISC3 Innovation Hub team will select five finalists that will pitch in front of the selected audience at the Investor Forum and compete to win 25,000€.

After evaluating the applications for the ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2019/20 in Sustainable Building and Living, these eight start-ups were shortlisted (in alphabetical order):

1. Block Solutions, Finland: Lightweight building blocks produced through injection moulding from environmentally friendly wood fibre-based biocomposite. The strength of the blocks originates from the wood fibre and the encapsulation by recycled or virgin Polypropylen ensures the flexibility, lifespan, and resistance to external abrasion. The innovation offers a promising, affordable “Do It Yourself” housing solution, as the product is modular, can be expanded according to the needs of the user, and can be built very easily.

2. Ecoact, Tanzania: Energy conserving plastic extrusion technology, which recycles and transforms post-consumer plastic garbage and packaging materials into durable and long-lasting plastic timbers. The technology uses natural profiled waxy inversion in the plastic extrusion process and helps plastic materials of different polymers reach their melting point quickly, while retaining their original stability and strength, hence lowering energy consumption and production costs.

3. Ecovon, Ghana: Sustainably sourced, newly-engineered wood made from coconut husk and sugar cane bagasse, supplying the global market with a formaldehyde-free bio-based renewable wood alternative. The product is naturally flame retardant and anti-fungal without added binders (glues). Moreover, the innovation of Ecovon allows for the reduction of CO2 footprint and deforestation as compared to the commercial wood and has a positive social and economic impact in coconut and sugarcane producing developing countries, such as Ghana.

4. Glassolina, Egypt: Sheets of wood-plastic composite made out of recycled plastic and wood wastes with superior properties that can be used as an alternative for other virgin plastic-based materials, such as acrylic and polycarbonate. The solution is an up-cycled material with numerous applications that can be customizable (transparent, translucent, opaque, and coloured for further uses). The panels can fit as a replacement of glass in net-zero energy buildings and can also be used in photovoltaic solar panels.

5. Mesocarpe, Germany: The 1- 4 mm flexible "Salt Crystal Wall" is an active biodegradable membrane made from renewable resources and minerals, which regulates indoor air quality by filtering pollutants and bacteria. "Salt Crystal Wall" is self-adhesive, attenuates noise, and can reduce electromagnetic radiation. In addition, the translucent salt wall helps regulate room humidity levels.

6. Reuse Design Laboratory, USA: Lightweight, insulative masonry block system Drywall Waste Block (DWB), containing up to 90% recycled drywall waste. DWB mixtures utilize drywall demolition and construction waste, replacing a high percentage of Portland cement with a waste-derived binder. DWB can offer new opportunities for waste recyclers and building materials manufacturersand superior results at lower costs to builders, encompassing a range of structural and non-structural applications.

7. SUMTEQ, Germany: Affordable high-performance insulation material SUMFOAM® on the basis of polymer nanofoams. SUMFOAM® achieves a significant reduction in thermal conductivity of up to 50% compared to common insulating materials. Thus, the energy requirement from heat losses is greatly reduced with unchanged insulation thickness. In this way, SUMFOAM® particularly contributes to the sustainable conservation of valuable resources. Based on the scalability and the costs-efficient processes, SUMFOAM® can be offered with an attractive price-performance ratio.

8. Zila Works, USA: 100% BPA-free epoxy resin made from industrial hemp - a plant that is easy to grow and has strong, durable fibres – which produces benefits for farmers, reduces health risks for manufacturing workers, and decreases toxins to consumers. This technology is an innovative bio epoxy resin based on the fatty acids (FA) of hemp seed oil for use in composites and other industrial applications, such as coatings.

Out of nearly 50 applications received, only few were submitted by female entrepreneurs. In order to encourage and recognize their efforts, the ISC3 would like to grant an honourable mention for the best three female founders:

1. Idea-Tec, Chile: a process that permits recycling styrofoam, transforming it into paints for buildings in an efficient and cost-competitive way.

2. Mesocarpe, Germany: see above

3. Mojau Innoventa, South Africa: The Multi-Purpose Construction Product (MPCP) is an interlocking plastic brick product that has many applications in the construction arena. MPCP allows for a rapid and affordable building of new houses and can be demolished without causing any damage to the material.

We would also like to grant an honourable mention to Akyas, Jordan for providing a regionally impactful, out-of-the-box solution. Akyas developed a multi-use compostable bag that can be used in numerous settings regardless of sanitation infrastructure. The bag disinfects pathogens within the feces to prevent disease transmission and includes single-use hygiene products to ensure hand hygiene. AKYAS contains zero plastic components, neutralizes the pathogens in human waste within 24 hours, and transforms human waste into a safe organic matter that can be used as a soil conditioner. Thus, it can offer a cheap, effective, easy-to-deploy sanitation solution to populations who lack this basic service. Congratulations to all applicants and finalists!

The Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Building and Living 2019

By developing new sustainable materials, products, processes and business models, chemistry plays a key role in achieving most of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and hence a sustainable future. In order to accelerate the search for solutions, the ISC3 launched the Innovation Challenge to engage, award and promote Sustainable Chemistry innovators from around the world.

The ISC3 Innovation Challenge is organized annually and focusses on a specific topic that follows the respective workstream of the ISC3. The ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2019 called for innovations in the field of Sustainable Building and Living. Topics addressed by innovation proposals may include e.g.:

  • Innovative Construction Chemicals and Materials
  • Green Chemistry
  • Resource and Energy Efficiency
  • Circular Economy
  • Recyclability
  • Elimination of toxic ingredients (e.g. lead in paint)
  • Affordable Housing
  • Resilience Engineering
  • Modular Construction
  • Indoor Air Quality

What to expect?

Five finalists will receive:

  • Tailored support: access to Global Start-up Service
  • Customised Support services Visibility: promotion of your innovation via ISC3 communication channels
  • Networking: participation at the ISC3 Investor Forum in May 2020 in Frankfurt/Germany
  • Training: pitch training in preparation to your Pitching Session at the ISC3 Investor Forum
  • Cash prize: the winner receives a cash prize of 25,000 EUR