Air-cleaning, IoT-enabled “tree” picks up circular economy award in Berlin

The team from Green City Solutions next to their prize-winning product.

An air-cleaning moss installation for urban areas picked up the Green Alley Award in Berlin on 27 October, which recognises innovative start-up companies working with the circular economy.

The firm behind the unusual piece of street furniture is Dresden based Green City Solutions. It combines a moss installation with IoT-Technology, providing clean air and reducing urban heat. A single “City Tree” does what would otherwise require 275 trees: it absorbs 100 kg of CO2 annually. The installation is already deployed in Europe and Asia.

The start-up was awarded a package of cash and benefits with a value of 30,000 Euro. Six finalists from Germany, Finland, France and the UK presented their pitches before the jury and audience.

“Green City Solutions has succeeded because they address one of the biggest risks to humanity. Their installation is a completely new solution with a large impact and can be implemented worldwide. Furthermore, the team has presented their business model clearly and proficiently”, said Jan Patrick Schulz, Managing Director at Green Alley Investment GmbH.

Naomi Climer, former President and member of the British Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and patron of the Green Alley Award 2016 continued: “The jury was particularly impressed by the approach used by Green City Solutions because it combines modern IoT-Technology with ecosystem services. Their business can be easily applied and is scalable. Both factors played a key role in the decision process of the jury. From my perspective, all of the ideas have potential. I wish all of the start-ups continued success and I am sure they will all find suitable investors for their business models.

Before presenting their pitches in the evening, the six finalists gathered at workshops with experts from industry and the waste management sector, to collaborate with them on their business ideas.

At the award ceremony, Jonne Hellgren, CEO of RePack, delivered the keynote speech. He spoke about his experience starting his business. His advice to the start-ups was to never give up and to follow their own instincts. RePack, winner of the Green Alley Award 2014, is currently expanding its business into the German and Dutch markets.

A panel discussion on “The death of business as usual?” was held in which participants discussed how experienced and new market players can learn from each other to successfully establish a circular economy. Kieren Mayers, Head of Environmental and Technology Compliance at Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, Dr. Maja Goepel, Head of the Berlin office of the Wuppertal Institute, and the CEOs of Adaptavate (Tom Robinson, winner of the Green Alley Award 2015) and (Moritz Zyrewitz, finalist of the Green Alley Award 2014) participated in the discussion, which was moderated by the editor of ARTE Magazin, Shila Meyer-Bejaht.

Since 2014, Green Alley, a subsidiary of Landbell AG, has annually honoured ideas that address waste and resource management with its Green Alley Award in conjunction with several award partners: the crowdfunding platform Seedmatch, the London-based accelerator programme Bethnal Green Ventures and the European Recycling Platform (ERP) Finland.

In its third year, the Green Alley Award already received nearly 200 applications from 52 countries. In addition to the financial and benefit package that winners receive, Green City Solutions will also have the opportunity to receive investment support.

Information about the Green Alley Award, the finalists, as well as images from the event can be found at