PowerUp! 2020: Wool Instead of Plastic
Date: June 26th 2020
Author: Alenka Lena Klopčič
As part of its recovery programme, the European Union is promoting value chains – also in the energy sector and especially in the field of battery development, said EIT InnoEnergy’s Innovation Director, Elena Bou, in the introductory part of the PowerUp! Challenge, the region’s most prominent contest for innovative enterprises and business solutions. Bou echoed the words of the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who said that the COVID-19 vaccine is coming, but there is no ‘vaccine’ against climate change. Appropriate action on the part of the economies is therefore crucial, stressed Bou. In this context, InnoEnergy, the innovation engine for sustainable energy across Europe, seeks to promote and strengthen the portfolio of startups that offer solutions and provide answers to climate challenges. In this article, we present the finalists of this year’s PowerUp! competition, which all hope to claim a part in this mosaic.
PowerUp! startups tackling the issue of plastic waste
The issue of plastic waste was also tackled by Hungary’s Poliloop, which had created a cocktail of four bacteria that consume plastic when combined. Two of these have never been described before and two have never been used for this purpose, explained its CEO, Liz Madaras, who added that the company wants to offer an industrially relevant solution, while also helping to solve a wider issue: we produce more than 300 million tonnes of plastic annually on a global scale and only 2% of the waste is effectively recycled.
Meanwhile, Estonia’s Woola presented an alternative to packaging material used in e-commerce, which normally includes a lot of plastic. The startup that only came to be in 2019 is already cooperating with several e-stores. As its name reveals, its solution is – wool. According to its co-founder, Anna-Liisa Palatu, the startup is aiming to make it in the global market.
Augmented and virtual reality – startup style
TROIA, the winner of the Slovenian final of the PowerUp! competition, presented its TROIA AR platform, which displays computer-generated key data in real time using AR glasses, tablets, or phones, enabling exceptional improvements in terms of operational excellence and quality at work and providing opportunities for all industries and different organisations, as explained by its Sales Business Development Manager, Matjaž Breznik.
Meanwhile, Donat Ponamariov of Lithuania’s Viezo presented a solution for converting ambient vibration into energy to power wireless IoT sensors. The startup is already working with companies, such as Siemens, Infrabel, Sintgel, and Husqvarna and plans to generate revenue of EUR 100,000 this year.
Charging and payment speed the main focus of mobility-related solutions
Another company focusing on cost reduction – this time energy-related – is the startup Typhoon Hill, which, according to its press representative, Aleksander Kavgić, enables the aggregation and control of distributed energy sources and smart devices using its universal UEGOS operating system.
Climate change providing big missions for (currently) small startups
2020 Winners: Woola, Watto, Pocket Virtuality, and TROIA
This year, the members of the jury consisted of Oksana Prykhodko (Innovation manager at DTEK), Marzena Bielecka (Managing Partner and Founder of Experior Venture Fund), Jennifer Dungs (Lead for Transport and Mobility at InnoEnergy), Jakub Miler (CEO of InnoEnergy Central Europe), and Dominik Zalewski (Co-founder of urban tech agency, Urban Impact).
First place went to Estonia’s Woola, second place was taken by Lithuania’s Viezo, and third place went to Czechia’s Pocket Virtuality. The majority of the public votes went to Slovenia’s TROIA.
This article is available also in Slovene.