From gelatinized marine litter to seaweed straws

A new generation of talented and sustainability-focused tech entrepreneurs are already dreaming up innovative ideas to change our daily habits and fight climate change.

For the past five years, the Battle of the Minds competition has challenged students and alumni from around the world to imagine and develop novel solutions to some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems. Together, country teams compete in a pitch competition for a chance to receive funding from Btomorrow Ventures and the opportunity to participate in BAT’s Global Graduate Program.

From making glue from gelatinized marine litter to making algae-based edible straws, here are some of the weird and wonderful breakthroughs that have emerged from the program so far:

Bioplastics as an alternative packaging

UK households are reported to throw away a staggering 100 billion pieces of plastic packaging every year, which is an average of 66 items per household per week. The government plans to impose a total ban on single-use plastic, including plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of Styrofoam cups and food containers, from October 2023.

With this in mind, UK-based team FlexSea has developed a proprietary technology that creates a bioplastic derived from algae. At the 2022 Battle of the Minds edition, they explained that this could be used to package a wide range of products without compromising their quality or competitiveness. This idea brought FlexSea the win and an investment of £50,000 to bring the solution to market.

Reusable food packaging

In 2021, Mexico City banned single-use plastic in a bid to make the city more sustainable. As citizens adjusted to the changes, Team Erre developed a reusable cup system that would allow users to take their food and drinks with them without creating single-use waste.

This solution was both environmentally friendly and encouraged regular customers to the participating cafes. This earned Team Erre second runners-up with funding of £25,000.

Edible seaweed straws

In 2021, the top spot in the Battle of the Minds went to Team Ijo from Indonesia, who developed eco-friendly, edible straws made from seaweed that still retained the look and feel of a regular straw.

In Indonesia, where 4.9 million tons of plastic waste goes uncollected or goes to open landfill, any step we can take to replace everyday items with sustainable, plastic-free alternatives will help transform the country. The winning team received £50,000 to bring the idea to life.

Use marine waste sensibly

Egypt is said to be responsible for a third of all plastic entering the Mediterranean, with the amount of marine litter expected to double by 2025.

With this in mind, Team Egypt produced a high-quality gelatin from marine waste that is used to make glue, photographic emulsions and more. With an investment of £25,000 they secured a second place finish in 2021.

Composting with cigarettes

Since October 2020, many parts of East Africa have been experiencing long periods of drought with intermittent short, heavy rains that often lead to flash floods.

To encourage plant growth in these unsettled weather conditions, Team Kenya has developed a system for recycling cigarette butts to make planters for urban farming and fertilizer for cultivation. This also brought in second place and a fund of £25,000.

Bring your idea to life

Do you have a weird or wonderful idea that could help solve the world’s current sustainability challenges? Applications for Battle of the Minds 2023 are now open.

Participants can choose from one of four challenges:

Technology: Ideas that use new technologies such as AI, augmented and virtual reality to create a sustainable world

Organic: ideas for reducing CO2 in everyday life, from developing packaging alternatives to more sustainable agriculture?

Energy: ideas for innovation in renewable energy and carbon sequestration

Inclusion: Ideas to promote inclusion, such as combating unconscious bias through the use of technology

no idea is too big – the competition welcomes your solutions to support local communities and think beyond bordersand contribute to a more sustainable future Future.

TNW Programs is hosting workshops June 19-23 for all Battle of the Minds participants, where they will teach important skills on how to further develop their idea and become a profitable part of the tech ecosystem! Anyone who has registered before the 19th can take part.

In the sessions you will learn how to design a value proposition canvas and a business model canvas, how to market and how best to present your ideas.

Comments are closed.