Margriet Schreuders is Head of Charities at the Dutch Postcode Lottery and is chair of the preliminary jury of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge. Since we've only one month left before the entry period closes we asked her some questions about the jury proces.

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Two separate juries will judge submissions to the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2017. The preliminary jury will select 25 nominees in July and five finalists in August. The international jury will select a winner and a runner-up during the grand final on 14 September 2017.

How long have you been a member of the preliminary jury?
This is my fourth year as chair of the preliminary jury. In previous editions I have been taking part in other roles as well. In 2007, the Dutch Postcode Lottery took the initiative for this competition to support a new generation of driven social entrepreneurs. They aim to use their smart ideas to make the earth greener. My involvement safeguards our initial objective with this challenge: to help bring sustainable ideas to market.

What is the preliminary jury’s role and how does the process work?
After the deadline ends in June, the pre-jury screens all applications. We assess them against a number of criteria. For example, will there be a significant reduction of CO2 emissions? How likely is it that the product can be on the market in two years? How scalable is the product? And of course: will winning the prize money have a significant impact on this company?

Besides me, the preliminary jury consists of a young entrepreneur, an expert in circular economy, a venture capitalist, and a DOEN Foundation’s investment manager. With our first selection of 25 nominees we particularly aim to show that a huge group of entrepreneurs is working hard to make the world better and greener. And with that, we aim to inspire others to do the same.

We make sure this selection of nominees represents the whole spectrum of submissions. We look for a balance in industries, gender, kinds of products, and geographic distribution. We want the eventual five finalists on stage to show a hopeful and inspirational reflection of the overall potential. Paramount in all our decision-making is of course the quality of the applications.

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What kind of start-ups can apply and have a chance at winning?
Start-ups that are already in the developing phase and can bring their product to market within two years have the best chance of winning the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge. Often they have received some sort of investment before or won another prize that helped them to take the first hump. Ideally, they can’t wait to start production and the prize money will allow them to do so.

What triggers does the jury look for?
We always admire when applicants realise they can’t do it all by themselves. A good entrepreneur knows what he doesn’t know. The business plan and with that the whole company can improve if the founder welcomes advice and support from other experts. It is almost impossible to develop your plan to the next level if you don’t open up. Another trigger for us is the true understanding that entrepreneurs have of the market they are about to enter. We want to see that they have analysed the risks and are able to outline a clear and logical process. Show us that you have the absolute best solution for the problem.

Do you signal trends in focus areas?
There are definitely trends that we see over the years. At first, there were a lot of green energy initiatives. At the moment there is a shift towards food and consumer items going on. Practical solutions for unsustainable elements in the chain that cause indirect greenhouse gas emissions. A funny trend is that we often see multiple types of the same ‘unique’ invention in one year. Apparently there is a time for everything.

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Is it hard to come to a joint jury decision?
Not at all. It roughly takes us a day to come to a solid first selection. Then we collect additional information if needed. And soon after that we reach consensus and have our final list. In a rare case one of us holds a passionate speech to convince the others of a certain entry, which makes it all the more interesting.

What are the hopes for this year?
We hope the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge will attract ideas from a bigger geographical coverage this year. For example, in remote or underdeveloped areas even more creative ideas offer sustainable solutions for everyday problems. It would be great if we can extend our reach.

What has stuck with you the most from being on the jury?
What sticks with me every time is the hopeful feeling I get from reading through these applications. I think to myself: with all this potential we will be able to combat climate change. There are so many ideas, from passionate, involved entrepreneurs that strive to make a better world. I know it is the final hour, but when we reach the turning point in awareness a huge acceleration can take place.


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