Canadian Manufacturing

Agricultural firm wins top prize at global cleantech competition

ECF Farmsystems from Germany was honoured for its sustainable urban farming system

PALO ALTO, Calif.—A German company has been awarded the top prize at the Global Ideas Competition for its innovative cleantech agricultural technology.

ECF Farmsystems won this year for its aquaponic farm system that allows for “resource-efficient fish and vegetable production in urban environments.”

This was the first time an award was given to an agricultural firm in the competition’s five-year history, said Kevin Braithwaite, chair of the Cleantech Open Ideas Competition.

“As 14 to 24 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and 70 per cent of humanity’s fresh water usage are as a direct result of agricultural activity, ECF Farmsystems could have a major impact outside Germany,” he explained. “This is yet another example of how we should be truly global in our search for the most innovative solutions to the most pressing environmental, economic and social challenges facing our planet.”

ECF is constructing a 2,000 square-metre aquaponic farm system in Berlin, which will yield 35 tonnes of vegetables and 24 tonnes of fish each year. So far the company has sold two farms and has patented its technology worldwide.

Known colloquially as the “Cleantech Oscars,” the Global Ideas Competition is run by Cleantech Open, a non-profit organization that funds cleantech research, and honours the world’s top five most innovative clean technology start-ups.

Teams from around the world make their way to San Jose each year to pitch their start-ups to a panel of investors and technology experts—similar to the Dragon’s Den—and the panelists judge and select the winners. This year, 28 teams were selected to participate in the final round. The winners were announced earlier this month.

Two of the other prize winners were from Europe—the Netherland’s Eternal Sun and the U.K.’s Naked Energy.

Eternal Sun develops simulation technology for gauging performance and reliability of products in the solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, chemical and bioenergy industries. Naked Energy has devised a hybrid solar technology that generates combined heat and power.

All three European firms were supported by the largest public-private partnership on the continent focused on climate change— Climate-KIC.

“The very positive result for Europe in this global competition shows that Climate-KIC’s acceleration program is paying off,” said Hero Prins, Climate-KIC’s entrepreneurship director. “There is a real and imminent need for clean technologies.”

The other winners were Cibus from Costa Rica for its baceterium that processes whey into biodiesel, and Israel’s Greenspense, which devised a dispersing technology for aerosol cans that doesn’t require gas.

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