Sir Richard Branson awards €500,000 for best green business idea

Clare Saxon Ghauri
16 September 2013

LONDON: Today the winner of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2013 was announced, by the contest jury chaired by Richard Branson and including our Co-founder Jim Walker.

Ginger Dosier of the United States was awarded €500,000 (US$669,000) today at the final in Amsterdam, to realize her green business plan: a CO2-free brick production process.

The winner’s company, BioMason, uses bacteria to ‘grow’ bricks out of easily available materials like sand. The bricks’ manufacturing process produces considerably less greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional fired clay ones. She commented: “With the prize money we will be able to achieve significant results faster and launch our sustainable bricks on a large scale. This is a huge encouragement.”

Green entrepreneurs

The Dutch Postcode Lottery’s Green Challenge asks people around the world to present sustainable, creative, innovative products and services that reduce carbon emissions, and this year received 311 entries from 57 countries.

Ginger Dosier was competing against four other startup green entrepreneurs: Dutchmen Wolbert Allaart and Patrick Heuts, who each won €100,000 (US$134,000) runner-up prizes for their green plans, as well as two other American women Alison Greenlee and Kavita Shukla. Allaart’s energy-harvesting glider captures wind at a low cost, and Heuts’ business creates efficient propeller replacements for inland shipping barges which cut CO2 emissions 50% compared with current systems.

A special prize went to Kavita Shukla for her product Freshpaper, which is biodegradable paper infused with spice extracts to keep products fresh for 2-4 times longer. She received the most audience votes on Facebook, winning €5,000 (US$6,700).

Expert judges

Judging panel chair, Sir Richard Branson commented: “I’ve seen some amazing carbon-reducing ideas here today. Sustainable goods and services like these can really make the difference in a world that’s dealing with the effects of climate change. But a good idea’s one thing–without the right structure in place, it’s not getting out of the gate. That’s why I wholeheartedly support this competition. I wish each of the finalists all the success in the world with his or her business.”

The judging panel includes Richard Branson, Chairman, Virgin, Jim Walker, International Programmes & Strategy Director and co-foundet, The Climate Group, Marty Pickett, Executive Director & General Counsel of Rocky Mountain Institute, Leila Janah, Founder of Samasource, board member at OneLeap and TechSoup Global, Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer for the IKEA Group, Marieke van Schaik, Managing Director Dutch Postcode Lottery, Liesbeth van Tongeren, Former director, Greenpeace Netherlands, MP for the Dutch Green Left party and Marcel Wanders, Product and interior designer.

Jim Walker added: "The Green Challenge has once again identified an exciting group of social entrepreneurs. The five finalists are chasing disruptive, transformational impacts on our energy, transport, food and construction systems. Their innovative approaches continue to show the size of the opportunity that exists for green business: we can reduce carbon emissions and make money and create jobs at the same time."

Visit Dutch Postcode Lottery’s Green Challenge for more info.

Related news:

Five top green entrepreneurs compete for €500k prize, winner to be chosen by panel led by Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson is looking for the next big green business

The Climate Group awarded US$3.5 million funding to bring light to India's rural communities


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