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Over $100K goes to fund green innovation startups via JC COIL “Zero Carbon Pitch 2017”

The withdrawal of the US Trump administration from the Paris Agreement has signaled to all other signatory countries that they need to join force and work even harder to combat climate change. With a funding support of more than ten million Hong Kong dollars from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, CarbonCare InnoLab’s mission is to gather forces from organizations and the general public to continue to promote the cause of sustainability in Phase II of the “CarbonCare Open Innovation Lab” (JC COIL) project, under which “Inno Teams” are incubated to contribute to a greener Hong Kong.

When the incubation programme came to an end after eight months, “Zero Carbon Pitch 2017” was held on 19th August to award funds to the best projects. Dr Helen Liu from the Department of Politics and Public Administration in The University of Hong Kong, Ms Eugenia Lo, CEO of SOW Asia and Ms Ada Yip, Director of Hong Kong institute of Social Impact Analysts, were invited to form the professional panel to judge on the eight teams shortlisted for the final pitch.

These eight teams, categorized into the “Inno Team Group” and the “Open Group”, competed for a total of four awards. The Best of Inno Team Award, a grant of HK$50,000, finally went to “Worm Bin Man”, a vermicomposting project. The Best of Open Group Award, a grant of HK$40,000, went to “Recipio”, a no-paper receipt platform.  These funds are earmarked to help innovative teams to turn their low carbon dreams into a business reality.

“Worm Bin Man” aims to mitigate Hong Kong’s food waste problem in a natural way through vermicomposting. The judging panel considered their worm-raising kit attractive to both organisations and ordinary families. The founders of “Recipio”, on the other hand, wish to launch a digital platform for paperless receipts combined with business promotion, thereby reducing the paper used in printing commercial receipts.

The “Inno Teams” have received coaching from JC COIL in the past six months. Apart from “Worm Bin Man”, the other three teams have also worked on distinctive themes. “Solar Living” promotes reusable energy and the co-using of solar energy products in the community.  “Good Run”, a team that promotes active living, aims to encourage corporate employees to do more exercises through a smart watch game and support carbon credit projects at the same time. “Upcycling” hopes to attract corporations to the idea of eco-souvenirs in their brand building exercise, which in turn helps the disadvantaged in our community.

In the “Open Group” catergory, the other three shortlisted teams were “We Use”, “Jik Jik Team” and “Green Acts”. “We Use” provides tableware renting and washing services to reduce the use of disposables.   “Jik Jik Team” promotes eco-education and creative art using recycled materials.   “Green Acts” connects green retailers and consumers with a view to promote eco-consumption.

Finally, the Best Climate Innovation Award went to “Good Run”, which received a kick-start funding of HK$20,000. The judging panel praised them for integrating product design with individual workstyle and lifestyle, bringing personal behavior change. The Audience Popularity Award, determined by audience voting, was shared by the Inno Team “Worm Bin Man” and the Open Group team “Green Acts”. They will equally share the HK$5,000 award.

The exciting pitch aside, veteran entrepreneurs of green business and social innovation were invited to share their remarkable experience. Guest speakers included Ms Puifung Leung, founder of “Fair Taste” and currently Director of Fundraising for Oxfam Hong Kong; Ms Patsy Cheng, founder of SEE Network; Ms Allison Chan, Co-founder of GreenPrice and Mr Alex Cheng, a perpetual entrepreneur and Co-founder of Catalyst Builder. Their enlightening recount on green startups and social innovation have benefited all participating teams and the audience alike.