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

ISC3 – International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre


The ISC3 received a total of 47 applications from six continents and over 15 countries for its Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Building and Living 2019/20. With many top-notch applications, the ISC3 decided to increase the number of finalists from five to eight. The ISC3 Innovation Challenge calls annually for innovations in the field of Sustainable Chemistry and awards the winner with a 25.000 Euro prize.

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 BeyondTM 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.

The eight finalists of the ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2019/20 in Sustainable Building and Living are (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 can neutralize electromagnetic fields.

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!