how startups can lessen their environmental footprint

Students Inspiring Students

You don’t have to be a cleantech startup to be environmentally responsible. From using renewable energy sources to minimizing packaging waste, early-stage innovators can find ways to lessen their environmental footprint. To inspire other innovators to invent green, we asked some student inventors we’ve supported to share how they’ve integrated principles of environmental responsibility into their innovation or business model. 

Using Renewable Energy Sources

Aclarity

Created an electrochemical technology to easily remove pathogens, metals, and other impurities from residential and commercial water systems.

VentureWell participation: ASPIRE for Environmental Health 2018

“Environmental responsibility is key to our mission. We are constantly working to ensure our products are sourced, manufactured, operated, and reused or recycled to decrease environmental impact. Our technology produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and uses less energy compared to competing technologies. We also aim to power our devices with renewable sources such as solar.” Julie Bliss Mullen, co-founder and CEO of Aclarity

Sunthetics

Developed a solar-powered device to use during the chemical input phase of nylon production, helping eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing process.

VentureWell participation: E-Team Stage 1 Spring 2018; E-Team Stage 2 Summer 2018; OPEN Minds 2019

“Our technology revolves around environmentally responsible practices, from reducing raw material usage and waste to using renewable sources of energy. In fact, it was during a VentureWell E-Team workshop that we reflected on how to reduce the environmental impact of our technology.” Myriam Sbeiti, co-founder of Sunthetics

VerdiLife

Developing a waste recycling process that can produce organic fertilizer and pesticide solutions and is carbon-negative with zero emissions.

VentureWell participation: E-Team Stage 1 Winter 2019; E-Team Stage 2 Summer 2019

“Unlike agro-chemicals that are made from oil and petroleum materials, we use wood waste that should otherwise be burned or dumped in landfills, manure that causes air pollution and nitrate runoff, and food waste that release methane gas into the atmosphere. Our production process produces its own energy, which makes it a unique self-sustaining and carbon-negative system. And through that carbon (biochar), we help improve wastewater management by recovering phosphorus and nitrogen for reuse on the farm where it can recharge soil biology. This can solve a critical broad-based, long-term problem all farmers face by sequestering tens of thousands of tons of carbon over the life of just one system.” Mahdi Eghbali, founder and owner of VerdiLife

Sustainable Packaging 

Burnflex

Creating a novel burn wound dressing using a film-forming foam that is portable and easy-to-apply, and enables more patient mobility, protects against outside elements, and accelerates healing.

VentureWell participation: E-Team Stage 1 2018; 2018 GIST Startup Training Australia; OPEN Minds 2019 (first-place winner)

“By potentially eliminating the need for several products and streamlining it into a single product, we will minimize the amount of waste that comes with packaging for traditional first aid components. Also, the ingredients in our formulation are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA. We always keep in mind where these materials may come from and how they can impact the environment when it’s time of use expires. We also like to operate at low to moderate temperatures and carry out experiments with the fewest number of steps possible to save resources.” Maricely Ramirez Hernandez, founder of Burnflex

De Oro Devices

Developed a device for Parkinson’s patients suffering from freezing of gait that attaches to mobility assist devices and uses clinically proven physical therapy techniques that have been known to reduce the number of falls resulting from debilitating symptoms of the disease.

VentureWell participation: E-Team Stage 1 Winter 2019; E-Team Stage 2 Spring 2019; OPEN Minds 2019

“We’re sourcing products and manufacturing locally to prevent the environmental harms of transporting products long distances. We are also researching packaging materials that are 100% recyclable.” Sidney Collin, CEO and co-founder of De Oro Devices

Resource Recovery 

NUMiX Materials, Inc.

Creating a product that efficiently reduces the concentration of dissolved heavy metals from water systems across a wide range of pH levels.

VentureWell participation: E-Team Stage 1 Summer 2018; E-Team Stage 2 Winter 2019; ASPIRE for Environmental Health 2018; OPEN Minds 2019

“We enable resource recovery. Our product is capable of recovering metal contamination from water in a way that renders “pollutants” ready to return into useful life. This approach leaves water cleaner while producing sources of crucial metals that don’t require mining.” Katie Kollhoff, CEO of NUMiX Materials

There’s a tremendous need to prepare tomorrow’s inventors and entrepreneurs to be environmentally responsible—today. To maximize impact from the start, it’s critical that student innovators develop an environmentally responsible mindset at the earliest stages of their innovation, business, or manufacturing process. This early recognition increases the likelihood that students will continue to think green and create solutions to real-world problems without putting further stress on the environment.

Visit our tools page for resources on environmentally responsible invention as well as other valuable information about innovation and entrepreneurship.

Learn more about our E-Team grant program and ASPIRE program.

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