The Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge is one of the major events for green startups to get their sustainable solutions out into the world. Inspired by president Bill Clinton and supported by sir Richard Branson, this annual competition can boost your startup in more than one way. Most important of which is the massive cash price, no strings attached, the finalists can win. Registration is now open for all startups, reaching the finals is only for the five very best of those.
Besides the fame, reaching the finals of the Green Challenge will also bring fortune. The winner will receive a cash prize of €500.000, to spend on their startup. It’s not an investment or a loan. It’s yours to keep. For the runner-up there’s €200.000 waiting, while the other three finalists receive €100.000 each. So how do you make it to these finals? We’ve looked at previous finalists to see what got them in the finals. This is how you do it:
1: Think outside the box
A startup working towards a more sustainable society and a better planet can come in many shapes and sizes. There’s tons of ways to create a better planet. You don’t have to invent new batteries to make it to the finals of the Green Challenge. Your business could be in construction or food or actually almost any category. Last year’s finals saw two fashion startups. Reverse Resources from Estonia and Bangladesh is a software platform that tackles the problem of wasted resources in the fashion industry. AlgiKnit from the US is creating yarns made from kelp. It’s durable yet quickly degradable and could be the fabric in your next sneakers. Both startups received €100.000. So as long as your business is creative, scalable and contributes to a more sustainable world, you’ll stand a chance.
2: Disrupt, disrupt, disrupt
Does your product bring incremental updates to an already existing market? That’s great and it might become a successful business. But in the Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge the judges are looking for something that goes further than that. A good example is Dutch startup Lightyear, which made it to the finals in 2017. Electric vehicles are already a common sight when it comes to the future of mobility. Lightyear goes way beyond that, developing an electric car that fully charges itself using solar power. So while car companies are trying to solve the puzzle of deploying enough chargers along the roads, this startup is already, well, light years ahead and eliminates the need for chargers. It earned them a spot in the finals of the 2017 Green Challenge.
3: Show, don’t tell
You don’t want to show up empty-handed. If you are selected to join the challenge, having a working prototype will greatly enhance your chances of reaching the finals. It worked for Danish startup Pond, that is revolutionising the plastics industry by replacing crude oil for compostable, natural fibers. Their bio-resin system will play a huge role in the sustainable production of for instance furniture and cars. The fact that they had something to show really helped them during the challenge, says Pond CEO Thomas Brorsen Pedersen: “It’s not enough to have an idea, you need to be able to showcase what you do. You need to be impact driven to be part of this competition, and you need to be looking at creating major impact.” Pond eventually took their bio resin system to the finals and received €200.000.
4: Think big
What do floors, plants, windows and bubbles have to do with each other? They’re all past winners of the Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge. Important reason for securing the grand prize of €500.000 was the fact that these are products that tackle huge problems on a massive scale. Startup EarthEnable from Rwanda won the challenge in 2017 with their sustainable, clean, waterproof earthen flooring. Aimed at developing countries, where people rely on dirt floors or expensive cement floors, EarthEnable improves the living conditions of millions of people, while reducing the need for unsustainable materials such as cement.
Physee won in 2016, with their creation of windows that generate electricity from the sun, essentially turning any urban office into a solar farm. Life Land Company won in 2015 with their biodegradable incubator that makes it possible to replant one billion hectares of bare soil. And last years winner The Great Bubble Barrier prevents plastic from reaching the oceans by creating an underwater air curtain in rivers and canals. These startups may not seem to have much in common at first sight. But whether it’s the plastic soup, reforestation, energy transition or living conditions in developing countries, they all have scalable products to solve massive problems. And they all won the Green Challenge.
5: Apply for the Green Challenge
You can’t win it if you’re not in it. So the most important advice is to register your startup for the upcoming Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge. If your idea contributes towards a more sustainable planet, you can enter one of the largest annual competitions in the field of sustainable innovation. Are you ready to take the challenge? Apply before May 1st, 2019, win money and accelerate your product to improve our planet.