Lena Gaede

Can we save the planet through digitalization? Where new digital technologies can improve sustainability

Most of the time, digitalization is the solution to everything, isn’t it? So why shouldn’t it be a solution to the world’s energy problem? But how can digitized processes help to save the planet? Their biggest advantage is helping to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, while they minimize the need for some resources (i.e. paper) in manufacturing as well as in logistics. The digital transformation of industries can help to avoid an estimated 26 billion metric tons of net CO2 emissions and this only from three industries: electricity, logistics and automotive. So it’s high time we went for it! Since every increase by 1 percent of the global gross domestic product, the world’s carbon emissions rise by an estimated 0.5 percent.

Digital innovations should therefore be taken on account and used against this trend. Because, applied in the right way, digital technology can save lots of energy, even if it sometimes consumes much. Based on some examples, we show you here how easy can it be for a company to save energy and thereby to make the world a whole lot better.

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Filiz Sarah Gärtner

Motivation hacks for business: 5 bullet-proof tips to boost your motivation!

Yes we can! Just do it! When you are sitting at your desk without traction, this is what Barack Obama and Shia LaBeouf would probably tell you. To boost your motivation, you can either play their videos in an infinite loop in your office – or become your own motivation master! Because tackling big challenges and pushing through laborious projects can be easy if you know the right motivation hacks. Read on for 5 bullet-proof motivation tips every entrepreneur should know!

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Filiz Sarah Gärtner

How to successfully incubate startups – a guide for corporations hungry for innovation

Yes, we know the road to innovation can be tough. But it’s more important than ever to rescue businesses and bring them safely to the path of digital transformation. There sure are several ways to reach this goal. But examples of money pouring into R&D that left the companies empty-handed show that business incubation of startups is the better way for corporations to develop new technology and business solutions. Startups have the disruptive power and lateral thinking ability that are often missing in established companies. And they already come with the advanced, game-changing innovation that might be the solution to your problems! But in order to achieve a fruitful co-operation, a fertile ground is necessary. So better read on and learn how to successfully incubate startups in our quick guide for incubators!

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Dirk Baranek

Smart cities – how urban areas master new challenges through the Internet of Things (IoT)

The current round of the CODE_n CONTEST is running under the motto: ‘Into the Internet of Things’. This leitmotiv for the startup competition spans four categories: Digital Life, Future Mobility, Industry 4.0 and Smart City. In this article, we explore our take on the latter.

A success model inherited from history
Cities have lured people with their magnetic appeal for centuries – promising work, better living standards and social mobility. Cities are simply brimming with temptation so people flock to them by the millions, by the billions. This is also because cities deliver on their promise – not for all, but for many. Yet on the other side of the coin, the way in which cities fling so many people together into confined spaces varies greatly from city to city. In the mega-metropolises of the Second and Third World, big cities seem to be held back by hopeless energy shortages, infrastructures bursting at the seams, shocking environmental conditions, social conflict, anonymity, crime, and more…

Smart cities solve problems with the IoT
But let’s focus on the brighter side of the equation: cities are more than capable of coping with problems, and even finding solutions for them. It’s an intrinsic part of their recipe of success. In our times, this means cities will get smart, and smarten up. Smart cities – galvanised by a clever world of opportunity through the World Wide Web.
A smart city has the wits to spot hitches and their causes – with sensors and big data
A smart city wants connections – through the Internet of Things
A smart city enjoys digital coordination – through e-gov solutions and startups

Well these things happen for the most part in theory. Although we’re now seeing more and more examples of them also happening in practice – examples of modern cities not only digitalising their services, infrastructures and organisations, but also getting smarter in a physical sense. Let’s look at just three examples of this.

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Sally Ogilby

Social Startup: Exploring the world. Investing in people.

OneSeed Expeditions operates on the idea that travel can accomplish real and meaningful good. Founded by a group of former teachers, researchers, and guides, OneSeed uses the power of exploration to fund creative solutions to poverty. Our model is pretty simple: you take an amazing trip and a local entrepreneur gets the capital needed to grow their business.

Bishnu, Chris and Tek - founders of OneSeedExpeditions

Bishnu, Chris and Tek – founders of OneSeedExpeditions

While studying at Yale University and SIT (The School of International Training), Chris Baker traveled to Nepal to conduct research in Kathmandu and the Khumbu region near Mt. Everest. He studied Nepali, lived with a local family, and spent time exploring the mountains. Chris returned to Nepal twice more with Kiva, a microcredit organization aimed at connecting lenders with borrowers around the globe. While working with Kiva, Chris partnered with microfinance institutions, visited borrowers in the field, and saw how effective microfinance can be to help people alleviate themselves from poverty.

OneSeed Expeditions was founded in 2010 when Chris met Bishnu Thapa and Tek Bahadur Dong. Bishnu’s passion stemmed from her background as trekking guide in Nepal, which led her to research the challenges and opportunities that women guides face. Tek also brought valuable knowledge about Nepali tourism and had been dedicated to the industry for over a decade. Conceived as a social enterprise with a sustainable revenue stream, OneSeed Expeditions grew directly out of the research and work experience of its founders. OneSeed’s founders bring a unique mix of mountain guiding, ethnographic fieldwork, and non-profit skills.

Currently, OneSeed operates in four countries: NepalChilePeru, and Argentina. They run expeditions to Everest Base CampMachu Picchu, and the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, among many other locations. OneSeed partners with local microfinance institutions and lends 10% of its revenue to local entrepreneurs. With a focus on sustainability and low-impact travel, the team chooses partner lodges carefully to try to reduce the impact of their travelers. The OneSeed team believes that the model is replicable and hopes to continue investing in people and exploring other parts of the world.

Janina Benz

Marco Voigts: “Strike out on a new path to get attention”

Marco Voigt Code N InterviewMarco Voigt is co-founder of PIN AG and one of the initiators of the GreenTec Awards, the best-known environmental award in Germany. For many years he worked as a consultant for the EU in the Ministries of Economics, of Environment, and of Science, and coordinated several support programs in the field of environmental technologies and electromobility. At the moment, though, he is focused on anchoring clean technologies in German industries. Additionally, he is managing partner at VKP Consulting and partner of Deutsche Messe AG for Business Development, responsible for the international trade fair IndustrialGreenTec.

Janina Benz: Could you tell us about the GreenTec Awards (formerly Clean Tech Awards)?

Marco Voigts: The GreenTec Awards is an annual event presenting the newest advances in green technologies. Green technologies need strong ambassadors! The GreenTec Awards bridges the gap between entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians, artists, media representatives, and consumers, thus raising awareness and boosting the popularity of the sustainable (r)evolution. Projects range from car-sharing concepts to recycled construction materials—any innovative project can be part of the competition. But the GreenTec Awards is much more than just that: we host a session for the jury, encourage people to vote for their favorite projects online, and carry out many other activities to raise awareness for a more sustainable life. One of the event’s highlights is an interactive exhibition that invites guests to experience environmental technologies firsthand.

JB: This is the sixth annual GreenTec Awards. How has the event changed over the past few years?

MV: The event has changed a lot—it grew in every imaginable direction, quantitatively and qualitatively. We started in a small hall for 200 guests with three award categories. Last year we celebrated with 1,000 guests; the Green Carpet has never been that busy! I suppose we just caught the spirit of the age. This year, the Awards will be given away in several categories: Production, Energy, Mobility, Aviation, Recycling, Communication, Building & Living, and a special category in cooperation with ProSieben—one of Germany’s biggest TV stations—called ProSieben Galileo Wissenspreis.

JB: In which cleantech field do you expect the most revolutionary developments in the near future?

MV: In my opinion, you can’t limit it to one sector. For instance, the Green Production topic, as well as Urban Mining, is right at its beginning. Concerning aviation matters, we have already recorded amazing progress. That’s why we started to present an award for innovative projects in the aviation sector in 2011. I’m also convinced that electric mobility is now really on track.

JB: The event usually attracts not just cleantech innovators, but also celebrities. Do you think it’s rather uncommon to combine Cleantech and glamor?

MV: Yes, it might be uncommon, but I think this is exactly what makes the GreenTec Awards so unique. I have been to so many events presenting environmental technologies. Without a doubt, the ideas are outstanding, but innovation and creativity shouldn’t take place in splendid isolation; it needs an big audience. We thought outside the box and created an extraordinary event. Experts and celebrities meet at the GreenTec Awards, bringing together expertise and publicity. The public is interested in celebrities; why not try to draw that attention to something really innovative and important? GreenTec Awards media coverage ranges from specialized media and newspapers to the yellow press—that’s unique in the whole EU!

JB: Similar to last year, one applicant will be awarded the so-called “Green Music Award.” What do music and cleantech have in common? What does it take as a musician to receive that prize?

MV: The Green Music Award is a special prize for performers whose environmental dedication stands out in every way possible. Music touches and unites people from all over the world. When musicians like Morten Harket (former singer of a-ha), Bob Geldof, Paul McCartney, or bands like Coldplay campaign for environmental protection, they really can make a difference, and we want to reward this kind of commitment as well. Our cooperation with the biggest major label, Universal Music, helps a lot.

Janina Benz

PATXI ECHEVESTE: “This community will be our little treasure”

Patxi Echeveste - Founder of Wattio

Patxi Echeveste – Founder of Wattio

Patxi Echeveste, founder of Wattio, is a serial entrepreneur in the fields of green energy and energy efficiency. He believes that generating green energy is less interesting than conserving it, because the greenest energy is the one that is not used. He launched his first company, a solar company, at the age of 25, right after completing a masters in Economics Engineering. Now aged 33, his second company is aimed at turning normal houses into SmartHomes with Wattio, a powerful, flexible and cost-effective solution.

Janina Benz:What makes Wattio different than other smart home systems?

Patxi Echeveste: Wattio brings you a complete solution for saving energy and managing your home in a smarter way: we master software, firmware, and hardware to make your life greener and easier. It is extremely easy, secure, flexible, scalable, open, cost effective, and cool.

JB: What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

PE: This project has taken four years of hard R&D work in order to bring a complete solution for SmartHomes to you all. But, honestly, the big challenge now is to place it in the market, and to catch the attention of the media!

JB: You’ve just launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo. Why did you decide to raise money through a crowdfunding platform?

PE: We wanted to recruit a unique user base. This community will be our little treasure and we want to grow with it. We will take care of their problems and love their feedback. You know, taking care of the environment and the people we love is a big task—that’s why we need this community. Of course, supporters will get great benefits.

JB: What do you plan to do with the money that you raise?

PE: The more you support us, the more products and solutions we can offer you. Apart from the electricity and comfort system, we will offer solutions in the security and health fields as well. And of course, the platform will be continuously improving and growing.

JB: Aside from contributing, how else can people get involved?

PE: Ask folks to spread the word and make some noise about our campaign! Use the Indiegogo sharing tools, get one of our running t-shirts. We will be always grateful.

JB: Thanks, and good luck!

Editor’s Note: We’ll be featuring some of our finalists on the blog in the weeks leading up to and after CeBIT, but their participation has no bearing on the contest results

Paula Cizek

Congratulations to the CODE_n13 Winners!

After months of deliberation, we are proud to announce the winners of the second annual CODE_n contest! Changers.com won first place in the Startup category, and GREENCLOUDS took first place in the Emerging Company category; each received prize money amounting to €15,000.

Although the two company serve different customers, their commitment to cleantech solutions is clear. Changers, based in Berlin, has developed portable solar-powered chargers for smartphones and tablets. The chargers measure the amount of CO2 that has been saved and convert it to “Changers Credits,” which are posted to the online community and can be exchanged for sustainable products and services. The Netherlands’ GREENCLOUDS has developed a technology platform that makes idle resources in data processing centers to others, which allows companies to create a new source of income while reducing the data centers’ carbon footprints.

CODE_n13 Award Show

CODE_n13 Award Show

The contest was highly competitive from the beginning: of the 250 companies from 35 countries that entered, just 50 finalists were invited to exhibit at the CODE_n hall at CeBIT. “We found selecting the winners was a very difficult task,” stated Ulrich Dietz, CEO of GFT and initiator of CODE_n. “Many of the finalists caught our attention with their exceptional business models addressing the energy transition.”

In addition, carzapp and Codeatelier were recognized with special prizes sponsored by the international automotive supplier, Continental, the newest partner to CODE_n. carzapp, based in Berlin, operates a private carsharing platform through which anyone can make their car available for rental, while Burgstetten-based Codeatelier has developed Homee, an app that allows users to control a variety of devices in their home. The companies will share a show booth with Continental at the international automobile show IAA in Frankfurt, as well as receive mentoring from experienced innovators.

Changers and carzapp are continuing their winning streak this week with additional awards: just yesterday, these two companies won a special crowdfunding prize at CODE_n. From now until May 5, private investors with a bank account in Germany can visit seedmatch.de to buy shares in the companies starting at €250. In total, both companies have a chance to earn up to €250,000 in venture capital.

If you’re at CeBIT, we encourage you to stop by our both and congratulate the winners and the other finalists; they’ll be at Hall 16 until Saturday. Congratulations once again to all who participated!

To read the associated CODE_n press release please click here.