Start-up founders who focus on issues of resource preservation, resource recovery and recycling, often lack access to funding opportunities, as they have difficulty competing the b2b scale-ups that investors see as big money. That is why in 2014 Green Alley, a strategic circular economy investor based in Berlin, initiated the annual Green Alley Award, Europe’s first start-up competition for entrepreneurs wanting to contribute with their ideas to a circular economy.
Only one year later, the Green Alley Award has already received 100 applications from all over Europe, including ideas from across Europe and far away as from South America and Canada.
This year’s Green Alley Award is showing particular interest in the Nordics, by focusing on Finland. While the European Union still discusses a fitting circular economy package, Finland is already a step ahead: investments to promote the circular economy are top priority on Finland’s agenda.
“Finland not only serves as a role model regarding circular economy, but is known for its thriving start-up scene. The Green Alley Award takes up this spirit in order to encourage entrepreneurs from all over Europe to become involved with their ideas and contribute to an ambitious circular economy,” says Miriam Kehl, Co-founder of Green Alley.
Finnish startup RePack took home the Green Alley Award in 2014, and is indicative of how Nordic companies have tackled the circular economy. Founder Jonne Hellgren and his team aim to stop packaging waste in eCommerce. Annually, people produce 200 kilograms of packaging waste. To solve this, RePack invented a packaging that can be used up to 20 times over.
The circular economy matters
At first glance, waste may not be the most attractive topic for start-ups – waste management rules are governed by the public sector, and solving such a complex problem is intimidating – to say the least of creating a sustainable business. However, its importance in ecological transformation cannot be stressed enough. The two simply go hand in hand. The growing trend of recycling and upcycling has proves that people are increasingly acknowledging the value of a circular economy. Entrepreneurs in the circular economy deliver real alternatives to our “throw-away” society, and can encourage people to change their lifestyles in positive ways.
Supporting young entrepreneurs
There is plenty of good to learn from the Finnish when it comes to environmental matters: Finnish households have already started to collect used electronic equipment for many years. As a consequence, they are ranked among the top countries in the European comparison of waste management. Furthermore Finland continuously develops new models of “Rent, Repair, Recycle and Reuse” concepts.
“Finnish entrepreneurs seem to have plenty of fresh ideas and this is exactly where Green Alley aims to dock on – the dynamics of innovation – a very ‘fertile ground’ for young start-ups in Finland. We are excited about taking business models with potential to the next level and helping young people, with good ideas, to succeed”, says Olli Alanen, Country Manager of ERP Finland, a partner of the Green Alley Award.
All innovative business models related to resource preservation, resource recovery, circular economy and recycling are welcome to submit their ideas by 27th July.
At the end of October, the top six applicants will be invited to present their live-pitch in Berlin. The chosen start-ups will present their ideas to a broad audience of international industry specialists and successful entrepreneurs. The winner will be selected by a jury of experts from the start-up and circular economy sector.
While all of the finalists will receive invaluable advice, given by experts in circular economy, on establishing successful business models and entering the market through individual workshops, only the winner of the Green Alley Award for 2016 will receive a grand prize of cash and services worth up to 30,000 €.
Apply online now at www.green-alley-award.com.