25 January 2016 | News
During the Circular Challenge, nine start-ups will be starting work on their sustainable ideas and products. They met for the first time during a workshop last week. The Challenge was issued by Enginn, a breeding ground for sustainable start-ups. The nine participants received seed capital of 15,000 euros to make their product good enough for actual use in the Circular Valley, part of Schiphol Trade Park. The Circular Challenge wants to accelerate the transition to the circular economy by bringing together innovative starting entrepreneurs and larger businesses. The big businesses help the start-ups and the starters help the big businesses to innovate. The Challenge is also a competition. The winner receives another 50,000 euros.
At the end of February, Peter Joustra (Senior Project Leader at SADC) gave the start-ups a masterclass in circular area development as a potential area for application for their products.
The 9 starts-ups
Tiny Home is one hundred percent recyclable
Residential pioneers Jelte Glas and Daniël Venneman are champions of small, mobile forms of housing. Venneman: “Just imagine: you live alone, want some space around your home and do not want to be shackled to a mortgage, there are no solutions for that at the moment. A Tiny Home is geared precisely to those needs.” The material used is one hundred percent recyclable. Glas: “It is made from fibres like wood, cardboard or other similar materials that you can find in your own environment, such as grass. The exterior of the Tiny Home is made from cork, which insulates and is water resistant. On average, a Tiny Home is between 20 and 50 m², but if you add to that the space outside you are living a light lifestyle in more than one respect.”
Hubbel is the Greenwheels of accommodation
Piet van der Werf and Floris van der Kleij came up with the idea of the Hubbel. A construction system that works like Meccano. The separate wall, floor and roof sections are placed in a modular frame, whereby the size can be determined by the owner. Van der Kleij: “You can come up with the function yourself. We see the Hubbel as the Greenwheels of real accommodation.” Van der Werf: “While you charge up your electric car at a petrol station, you work in the adjoining Hubbel. Or you hold a business meeting in a Hubbel at the station. No wasted travel time, direct access using your public transport card and you pay by the minute.” All parts of the Hubbel can always be reused, in different compositions. That makes the product sustainable. In the Valley, the entrepreneurs have shown various possibilities for use.
Multi-level farming in the city
John Apasos, an American-born entrepreneur who came to the Netherlands to study at the Rotterdam School of Management, works with Jens Ruijg in their company SymbiCity on multi-level farming: multi-storey greenhouses, built into existing buildings, for instance. The 1,400 m² office building near Amsterdam Sloterdijk is being transformed into a greenhouse for lettuce and herbs, for instance. That should be finished this summer already. What is sustainable about that? “A great deal is lost in the food production chain and that is anything but sustainable. We grow crops close to the people who consume them, in the middle of the city therefore.” After Sloterdijk, the Valley is the first place where the company wants to build its super green houses. Why should SymbiCity win the Circular Challenge? “We are the only one of the nine companies that produces food, even though that has a very important place in the discussion on sustainability. Food is a big deal!”
Planq: furniture from residual materials and local products
Twin brothers Anton and Dennis Teeuw from design agency Planq create furniture primarily from residual materials and natural local products. Anton Teeuw: “For example, we are now building a large table for the central hall at an office of Waternet. The wood required comes from leftover material from maintenance work. On the tabletop we are engraving the waterways of Amsterdam and inlaying these with reeds that come from those waterways.” For the Valley, the brothers Teeuw, who started their company last autumn, are designing chairs and tables from natural residual products. “For this we are developing bio-composite, a mixture of fibres and resin. We also create the moulds in which the mixture must solidify; large cost items for which we could really use the budget. All the furniture in the Valley must provide inspiration. They should say: look at what you can do with residual material and waste! People must become aware of the story behind the items.
British construction material from bio-composite
“The Dutch market is much more open to cradle-to-cradle products than the British. The fact that we were invited is a fantastic opportunity for us”, says Tom Robinson. This young English entrepreneur’s mission is ‘to re-think and re-design building materials’. Starting with plasterboard, the most widely-used building material worldwide. Robinson and his partner (together: Adaptavate) designed ‘breathaboard’, a product that offers the same possibilities as plasterboard, but made from bio-composite. From material that can grow here and which is entirely biodegradable, therefore. In their own country, Adaptavate already has customers and with the 15,000 euros from the Challenge, Robinson and his company want to make breathaboard even better. And even if they miss out on the prize of 50,000 euros, participation has been more than worth the effort because Delta Development is opening doors for the British entrepreneurs in the Netherlands and beyond.
Space technology for earthly devices
Alex Gunkel was once a trainee at the European Space Agency in Noordwijk. There he met Max Baumont, who had developed a system which enabled astronauts to stay in space longer: specifically by removing CO2 from the air so that they could once again breathe in fresh oxygen. The two set up Skytree in order to apply this technology on earth as well. Skytree develops applications whereby CO2 from the air is reused. Alex: “On the one hand, there is too much CO2 in the air on earth, with all the detrimental effects this entails. On the other hand, CO2 is very useful for purifying water, for example, or for cultivating vegetables in green houses. We are now working with Eheim, a large aquarium manufacturer, on commercial applications for aquariums. That is a first step.”
Bamboo competing with metal and glass fibre
The natural fibres we create from bamboo are used in various industries. Our product competes with materials like metal, aluminium and glass fibre, because it is lighter, stronger and more sustainable!” Mark Bokeloh of Bambooder is extremely enthusiastic about the two types of fibres his company has developed. The bamboo used for this grows along the motorway near Badhoevedorp. “The land around Amsterdam Airport Schiphol that is not suitable for residential construction or agriculture could be used optimally in this way. Bamboo also absorbs noise, keeps the geese away and also absorbs CO2.” Bambooder’s long fibres can be used in aviation, construction and the automotive industry. “These industries are urgently looking for materials with a small CO2 footprint. For example, it takes a great deal more energy to manufacture glass fibre than to make the natural fibres we produce.”
Wood from Indonesian coconut husks
Silvia ten Houten is the only woman among the group of nine start-ups. Her company, GoodHout, has come up with a method for making technically developed wood from the husks on the outside of coconuts. This is similar to chipboard, also a fake wood. “In terms of applications, our product is similar to, for example, MDP, but it is stronger, more rigid and naturally fire retardant.” The coconut-based building material is attractive and can be used for floors, as is the plan for the Valley. But it can also be used for furniture, a tabletop or the fairing of a chair. “In Indonesia, the coconut waste products we use are usually incinerated. Now the farmers earn money on these. The principle of first people, then planet and finally profit is what GoodHout explicitly aims for.”
Battery for storage of solar panel energy
Generate and store energy yourself as a private individual? You can do that with the battery developed by TESS, the company operated by Erik-Jan van der Linden, Frits Obers and Stefan Teurkauf. Van der Linden: “The energy from solar panels on people’s homes is still fed back to the energy grid. While they could also be using this sustainably generated power themselves. Our product contributes to the transition to sustainable energy. The copper and lithium from the battery can be reused after decommissioning.” The battery, the size of half of a small refrigerator, has an industrial look and feel. That has to change. “We will be putting part of the award money into developing a suitable cover for the battery. We also want to show that our product is a good system by installing it in the Valley.”
Source: InforMeer, 21 January 2016