Diaper waste solution wins global green start-up award

Start-up firm Leafy Ke received first place in the 2019 award with a chemical processing technology that turns used diapers into a fuel gel.

A clean fuel start-up from Kenya has won the latest ClimateLaunchpad, a global green start-up competition. The start-up, Leafy Ke, which converts used diapers into fuel for homes, was selected as the top green business to deliver a positive climate impact. Close behind seemingly was second prize winner Maclec from India, a hydrokinetic turbine technology company. Enerdrape from Switzerland came in third with their efforts to develop the first ever “geo-thermal panel” that captures heat from indoor environments located underground and transfers it for renewable heating and cooling elsewhere.

Peter Gachanja, COO of Leafy Ke said: “This means so much to us. This means parents will be able to look after their families better. Children won’t have to sleep with smoke in their homes from dirty fuel. And carbon emissions can be significantly reduced.”

The winners all came through “a highly competitive field” at the sixth annual ClimateLaunchpad, a green business ideas competition with a primary focus on addressing the climate crisis. This year the competition attracted a record number of entrepreneurs, with 2,601 applying for national competitions across 53 countries. Training and coaching was organised in 70 locations across all continents, offered by community members from EIT Climate-KIC, the body behind ClimateLaunchpad.

In the past six years, with a slogan of “saving the world one start-up at a time”, ClimateLaunchpad has generated more than 6,700 ideas that resulted in the creation of over 8,000 jobs within 1,900 start-ups. For next year’s edition, the organisers say it has set its ambition at running the competition in 70 countries worldwide.

The 2019 Global Final this year was held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on 14 and 15 November. The three Global Final winners will receive cash prizes, and the Top-16 finalists (top 16 list can be found here) will now enter accelerator programme for cleantech entrepreneurs run by EU-funded knowledge and innovation community EIT Climate-KIC, which focuses on working to support the transition to a zero-carbon economy.

Providing a summary of this year’s competition, Dr. Kirsten Dunlop, CEO of EIT Climate-KIC, commented:

“ClimateLaunchpad is now taking on the dimensions of a global movement, and we see that in the quality of what’s coming through and the extent to which people are building on the shoulders of what’s gone before, learning from each other, and picking up where the biggest needs are and what we need to address.

“All of the participants are winners in their own right and represent the next generation of green leaders in the world. ClimateLaunchpad is in many ways a development programme that connects these brilliant minds and their solutions on an international stage. The exposure for the businesses and the teachings they absorb throughout the process help equip them for leadership in their own countries and communites.”

In addition, through the help of Irish Aid, this year’s competition saw a much bigger expansion in participation from the African continent. Maeve McLynn, Climate Change Policy Advisor at Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, commented: “The Government of Ireland is proud to be supporting the ClimateLaunchpad this year. Ireland’s support has contributed to the development of initiatives from all across Africa, that are actively contributing to climate action and people-centred sustainable development.”

“The global finals taking place in late December are an inspiring demonstration of the creativity and innovation that people from all over the world can offer towards addressing climate change.”

In a final comment, Dr. Dunlop added: “This is a fantastic years’ worth of thoughtful commitment to climate action, and we are looking forward now to supporting those entrepreneurs and those individuals to take their ideas into the whole system of initiatives that we are supporting.”

More detailed information on all 2019 finalists and their green start-ups can be found here.