There is a lot at stake: 500,000 euros for the winner and 200,000 for the runner-up, prize money that will allow them to kick-start their businesses. For the past days the finalists have been trained by Rockstart, have had pointers from Green Challenge Winners Eben Bayer, Scot Frank and Ginger Dosier and have lifted their presentations to impressive heights. They are ready and so is the audience.

Blog report by guest writer Tessa Weber

Five wonderfully gifted social entrepreneurs managed to get singled out of 324 ideas sent in from 53 countries all over the globe. Each of them determined to give the best presentation they can possibly give and be a game changer in their chosen field of business.

The Amsterdam venue is impressive: the Gashouder. An immense cast iron construction originally built to contain gas, now containing an impressively large stage and even larger screen. Over 500 chairs seat the jury, the preliminary jury, all 7 former winners, fellow social entrepreneurs, investors, journalists, designers, scientists, inventors, CEO’s, talent scouts and students of the Barlaeus Gymnasium.

There is a lot at stake: 500,000 euros for the winner and 200,000 for the runner-up, prize money that will allow them to kick-start their businesses. For the past days the finalists have been trained by Rockstart, have had pointers from Green Challenge Winners Eben Bayer, Scot Frank and Ginger Dosier and have lifted their presentations to impressive heights. They are ready and so is the audience.

Journalist Max Christern is the presenter and welcomes everyone. The event is live streamed, so there are lots of people watching. Chairwoman of the Jury Ellen MacArthur emphasises how impressed she is with all five finalists: “The passion and energy of the contestants and the potential all the ideas have is exhilarating. The spring board this competition is for them, that’s what its all about.

The first to present his idea is Frenchman Pierre-Yves Cousteau with Turbosail, a plan to build sails on seagoing vessels and thus save 30 percent of fuel. He delivers his pitch wonderfully and the audience is engaged immediately. One person in the audience suggests ship owners should create a fund of a 100 million euro to help put the technique to life. Pierre-Yves agrees it’s a great plan: “Lets do it.”

Diego Acevedo comes next with Bluerise. He touches the audience with his team’s fuelled plan to solve the energy problem using the different temperatures of the sea. And as a bonus have cold water for cooling instead of air-conditioning that costs a lot of energy. A question from the audience is about using the nutritious water as a by-product and if the process is not polluting the oceans. And of course it’s not.

Third to give his presentation is 23 years old Arthur Kay with Bio-bean. Easily talking the audience through his plans to extract oil from coffee waste and turn it into biodiesel and use what’s left in the process for biomass pellets. Not only in the UK, but also worldwide. A question from the audience is if he isn’t afraid they run out of coffee waste? Given the vast amounts of coffee being consumed, he is not.

Devin Malone from Alaska is fourth with One Nights Tent. He too manages to engage the audience with his plan to provide festival goers with recyclable and affordable camp gear delivered on site. The audience easily grasps his idea and branding. One of the questions is if the business plan encourages ‘good behaviour’? Devin explains that indeed it does, plus it raises awareness on a large scale and with a fertile, young audience.

The Vietnamese Trang Tran gives her presentation about Fargreen. The only female finalist has a compelling business plan to use rice waste for the production of high quality mushrooms. Thus reusing the valuable straw and releasing families from poverty, and putting an end to the waste burning that causes many health problems. On a question about whether there is a market for the mushrooms Trang answers that the Vietnamese love mushrooms.

Who won? Have a look…

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