Web Summit’s 7 nominees for the Earthshot awards 2022

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As the Earthshot awards panel begins to assess nominees for the 2022 sustainability prize, we want to highlight the incredible work of the startups we have nominated.

What is the Earthshot prize?

The initiative showcases how human ingenuity can inspire positive change for our planet. The sustainability prize will award £1 million to the winners of five ‘Earthshot’ categories, goals for improving life on our planet backed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

These are:

1) Protect and restore nature

To ensure that, for the first time in human history, the natural world is growing – not shrinking – on our planet.

2) Clean our air

To ensure that everyone in the world breathes clean, healthy air at World Health Organisation standard or better.

3) Revive our oceans

To repair and preserve our marine habitats for future generations.

4) Build a waste-free world

To build a world where nothing goes to waste, where the leftovers of one process become the raw materials of the next.

5) Fix our climate

To fix the world’s climate by building a carbon-neutral economy that lets every culture, community and country thrive.

We’re proud to be Earthshot nominators for the 2022 prize. We’re even more proud to put forward many of our wonderful startup community for assessment. Meet seven of them:

1) BioProbe Diagnostics – Ireland | Protect and restore nature

BioProbe Diagnostics is a project launched by the National University of Ireland Galway to help make water safer through rapid quality testing for harmful Legionella bacteria.

Legionella has a three-times higher mortality rate than the Covid-19 virus, and is growing rapidly in water supplies around the world. The most effective way to combat this dangerous spread? Through the same detection technologies created to help combat the pandemic over the last two years.

The medtech startup has developed a rapid PCR test that is cost-effective and user-friendly. It will help anyone from government bodies through to homeowners detect the presence of Legionella in water, reducing the risk of infection and flagging supply for treatment.

2) Brite Hellas – Greece | Protect and restore nature, Fix our climate

Agriculture consumes 14 percent of energy globally. It stands to reason that, to protect nature and reverse the negative effects of climate change, we need sustainable farming practices.

Brite Hellas has developed low carbon-energy, transparent solar panels optimised for use in greenhouses and Agrivoltaics systems (the use of land for solar power generation and agriculture at the same time). This technology can produce clean energy while helping crops to grow even in adverse environmental conditions.

The agtech has conducted one installation of an automated greenhouse in a 1,200m² vineyard. The result? A carbon footprint of -15.78kg carbon dioxide per kg of grapes grown. This is an extraordinary result and potentially a world-first for a negative carbon footprint for crop cultivation.

3) Closing the Loop – The Netherlands | Build a waste-free world

Closing the Loop has a simple aim – to help tech users take a step towards more sustainable consumption. And they are doing it by ensuring that every device created within a given industry put onto the market is recycled appropriately and in an environmentally friendly way.

The team works closely with enterprises in developed markets to ensure IT procurement is more sustainable or more circular.

Meanwhile, old technologies are collected in emerging economies and recycled properly, with numerous benefits. It brings valuable resources back into the production loop, creating fewer carbon emissions when compared to mining new metals. Additionally, Closing the Loop creates local jobs for collecting and sorting materials. To date, the team has recovered more than 3 million phones from scrap.

4) Ecofye – UK | Protect and restore nature / Fix our climate, Build a waste-free world

Attempts to build a circular economy of production and consumption remain sector-specific and driven by individuals. Despite this, circular-economy principles are a pillar for countries to kickstart a green recovery. Ecofye has a solution that standardises a system for sustainability.

The cleantech company has developed a digital platform that assesses and transforms business processes. They achieve this by helping companies to understand their ESG strengths and weaknesses, assessing their supply chains for efficiency gains and linking business leaders to alternative suppliers or waste traders that can help them to facilitate green transformation.

In Europe alone, more £450 billion is lost annually due to the use of materials that are not incorporated into products (The Ellen McArthur Foundation, 2020). Ecofye are aiming to recover that lost value, stimulate more resilient economies and help the planet to boot.

5) EcoTree – France | Protect and restore nature, Fix our climate, Clean our air

Earth’s estimated three trillion trees can trap several gigatonnes of carbon. However, deforestation is impacting this ability to store carbon emissions. The planet needs more forest canopy to avoid catastrophic climate change and restore our natural ecosystems.

EcoTree is a certified B Corp startup with a digital solution helping companies and entrepreneurs reach net-zero targets through sustainable forestry and biodiversity programs.

So far EcoTree has posted some very impressive results:

  • More than 1.5 million trees planted;
  • Across 40+ European forests;
  • For 1,500+ companies and 55,000+ individuals.

This has all been achieved over more than 3,000 days of onsite sustainable forestry work.

6) Endangered Wildlife OÜ – Estonia | Protect and restore nature, Fix our climate, Revive our oceans

Endangered Wildlife OÜ has a truly innovative idea for protecting biodiversity – making a business case for it. The startup is building a software solution capable of calculating the financial value of biodiversity per species, giving business and political leaders tangible insight into the effects of their decisions.

The team has valued 110+ species and works with clients, alongside strategic partners such as NGOs, to justify biodiversity protection for key animal and plant life.

Reviving our oceans is a core strategy for Endangered Wildlife OÜ, using this digital software to switch the perspective on oceans as merely a source of food security and towards treating oceans as the most complex bio-ecosystem on the planet.

7) GamesForest.Club – Germany | Protect and restore nature, Fix our climate

GamesForest.Club is a non-profit company with a goal of protecting and restoring nature through the power of gaming. They achieve this by encouraging players to actively invest in carbon absorption projects all over Europe via tree planting and protecting existing forests.

The German startup has planted a total of 34,661 trees and protected 2,732m² of forests to date. However, its long-term objective is a lot more ambitious. By 2030, GamesForest.Club aims to make the gaming and creative industries carbon neutral through reforestation and conservation on a local level all over the world.

Want to learn more about the innovative startups at our events? Check out who’s in our network.

Main image of a rainforest ecosystem: Avigator Fortuner/Shutterstock

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