Editor’s note: This post is written by Green Alley Awards.

Finnish startups belong to the European avant-garde of sustainable businesses. A proof point for this is the Green Alley Award, Europe’s first startup prize for the circular economy: Two Finnish startups, Sulapac and RePack, have been awarded with this European prize for circular economy businesses since its start in 2014. Right now, the Green Alley Award is entering the next round.

Will the next Winner of the Green Alley Award come from Finland again?

Landbell Group, originator of the Award, and its partners – among them Bethnal Green Ventures, a UK accelerator programme for startups using tech for good, and R2Pi, an EU Horizon 2020 project on circular economy business models – encourage young companies to apply with their technology, service or product by July 1, 2018 to win a cash prize of € 25,000. This year again, the award receives support from Finland: The European Recycling Platform (ERP) Finland is sponsoring the award and ERP Finland’s Managing Director, Olli Alanen, will also join the panel of experts who provide support and advice to the finalists. Together they celebrate startups working to advance the circular economy in Europe and promote groundbreaking digital circular economy solutions, recycling solutions or ideas for waste prevention in order to recover valuable resources from waste. The mission: to turn the linear into a circular economy and transform the waste and recycling industry as we know it today. For this reason, the Green Alley Award is on the lookout for startups based in Europe just entering the market, starting to grow or even expanding into new European markets.

Landbell Group has already awarded a total of six ideas for sustainable waste management, including the Finnish startup Sulapac with an ecological alternative to plastic packaging, the British startup Adaptavate with a sustainable construction material that reduces hazardous waste in the construction industry and RePack, also from Finland, with a clever deposit system to avoid packaging waste in online trading.

Finnish winner reveals 4 reasons to apply

One reason to apply for the Green Alley Award is, if you are once chosen for the finals there is no such thing as losing! The most convincing candidates will be invited to the finals in Berlin with great networking and learning opportunities for all. In workshops, they will meet European circular economy experts and startup mentors offering valuable advice as well as the opportunity to gain new business contacts.

Past finalists appreciate these benefits: “The Green Alley Award focuses on the startups: In individual workshops, you talk to CEOs and high-level experts who take time for you and your business idea. It’s a great experience and makes you feel important to them,” says Suvi Haimi, CEO of startup Sulapac, which won the 2017 Green Alley Award. In the evening all finalists will present their business ideas in a live pitch to an international audience. An expert jury will then select the winner of the Green Alley Award 2015, who will be rewarded with a cash prize of € 25,000 as well as a beautifully upcycled award trophy. Cash flow is definitely key, but at the Green Alley Award, you definitely get more than money, as Suvi from Sulapac explains: “One reason to participate is the cash prize, which is with € 25,000 even more attractive this year. But much more important is the network! To meet with other people who have the same vision of a circular economy without resources being wasted is priceless.”

At the Green Alley award finals, there will be enough time and space to connect and talk to everyone on site without any hierarchy or ranking of who is most important. Startups can directly meet with high-ranking professionals and talk face to face on the same level without any shyness or inhibition, which is another advantage revealed by Suvi: “What differentiates the Green Alley Award from other startup awards is its family-like atmosphere. When you arrive at the event location it can happen that you directly bump into the CEO of Landbell Group and have a chat with him!”

Last but not least, the most important reason why a circular economy startup should apply for the Green Alley Award is to make a contribution to saving our earth. When looking for startups, everyone is looking for the next unicorn, the next big thing that is worth billions, will disrupt another industry and change our lives. So is the Green Alley Award – but not in terms of money but in terms of our precious natural resources. Initiators and supporters of the Award are convinced that the world needs more ideas like the eco packaging from Sulapac, whose ambitious aim is no less than saving our oceans from plastic pollution: “If we don’t change anything, we’ll soon have more plastic in the sea than fish.” The Green Alley Award is excited to see how your idea will save our earth!

With all this in mind, don’t hesitate to apply for the Green Alley Award 2018! Applications are open until 1st of July. You can check out the application guidelines here and find out more about us on the Website, Facebook, and Twitter. For fact-checkers, we have compiled more nitty-gritty details about the award here.

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