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CHGE Leverages Venture Award to Affect Healthier Living for People and Planet


One Award for One Planet

The Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health continues to pioneer new approaches to global health and sustainability with its participation in the 2016 Sustainable Entrepreneurship Awards. The Sustainable Entrepreneurship Awards (SEA) seek to recognize top entrepreneurs building businesses for a healthier and more sustainable way of life.

Dr. Catlin Powers represented CHGE as the chairperson of the 2016 SEA jury, alongside business and government leaders from the US, Europe, China, and Africa. This year, the Award received 800 applicants from 120 countries. Applicants underwent a rigorous due diligence process to arrive at 15 semi-finalists who were invited to pitch the jury in person. Jury members ranked entrepreneurs based on their pitches and technical due diligence packages prepared by Munich Technical University in order to select a Grand Prize winner and four category winners. Winners were announced at an award ceremony in Vienna, Austria and all 15 semi-finalists were linked with investors, mentors, and incubation partners to help them scale their impact to the next stage.

The Award Ceremony

Hosted in the historic Vienna Stock Exchange building, the award ceremony opened with a keynote speech by Jim Walker, co-founder of The Climate Group and director of the Climate Mobilization Fund.  

Wilhelm Molterer, Managing Director European Fund for Strategic Investments, and Marc Fähndrich, Representative of the European Commission, presented about Europe’s strategy for investing in sustainable businesses which include EUR 27.5 billion in investments across 27 member states.

Ms. Mavis Xiong Ying Wang, a well-known Chinese designer and businesswoman spoke about international sustainable business collaborations between Asia and the west.

Presentations were interspersed with performances by Beau Dermott, 2016 winner of “Britain’s Got Talent,” and the Viennese youth choir. 

The Winners

The Grand Prize

The grand prize was Awarded to Full Cycle Bioplastics). Full Cycle Bioplastics uses natural microorganisms to turn organic landfill waste into fully biodegradable plastic at lower cost than traditional plstic production technologies. This Cradle to Cradle company has the potential to significantly benefit humanity and Earth by reducing landfill mass, methane release from landfills, and the human and marine health consequences of plastic waste in our environment.

The EU Innovate Award

The EU Innovate Award was awarded to Leaf Republic. Inspired by Asian leaf plates, Leaf republic created a lid made from bioplastic or recycled plastic and a three-layer natural bowl made of leaves. The Leaf plate is water proof and creates a sustainable alternative for plastic cutlery and plates, as well as several possibilities to innovate in the packaging and paper industries.

The Lifestyle Award

The Lifestyle Award went to Smart Floating Farms for their work to improve the resiliency of humanity against Climate Change. Smart Floating Farms develops self-sustaining floating farm systems to provide increased vegetable and fish yields to urban areas and climate refugee populations. The Smart Floating Farm system is solar-powered and low-cost to build and operate relative to current alternatives.

Education Award

BLITAB® -the tablet for the blind, makes it possible to visualize graphics, maps and whole book pages using adaptive text to braille technologies. BLITAB’s solution is 1/10th the price of current braille displays. It incorporates hardware and software innovations that open multiple opportunities across text-to-tactile and voice-to-tactile applications.