#ADE15 Green Innovation Battle: The winner is the planet

I was so grate­ful to present the keynote at the Ams­ter­dam Dance Event Inno­va­tion Bat­tle at ADE Green yes­ter­day, and to learn more about the amaz­ing strides for­ward that are being made in reduc­ing the foot­print of big fes­ti­vals. Eight major Dutch fes­ti­vals signed up to a land­mark agree­ment with the Dutch envi­ron­ment min­istry to go waste-free. I caught a pan­el where Rob Scul­ly talk­ing about the 100% renew­able ener­gy solu­tions for Green­fields at Glas­ton­bury, Govert Reeskamp talked about cre­at­ing minia­ture fes­ti­val-sized smart grids. There were light­ning talks about every­thing from a gen­er­a­tor that cre­ates elec­tric­i­ty from urine to Julie’s Bicy­cle talk­ing about how big data can help big fes­ti­vals be kinder to the Earth. Open House put inno­va­tion chal­lenges out that asked entre­pre­neurs to come up with ways to dis­trib­ute tap water to avoid plas­tic bot­tle waste, and there was an inno­va­tion ded­i­cat­ed to solv­ing a prob­lem I didn’t know exist­ed: tent waste. Appar­ent­ly a vast num­ber of peo­ple buy tents new for use at fes­ti­vals, use them for a cou­ple days, and leave them behind where they end up as land­fill.

Open House’s Inno­va­tion Bat­tle was a kind of Dragon’s Den — ideas got pitched and then inter­ro­gat­ed by a pan­el of judges made up of Jim Stoltz, founder of Tedx Ams­ter­dam, Sander Bijl­stra of Q-dance, Patrick van der Pijl of Busi­ness Mod­els Inc, and Jan Willem van der Meer, founder of Pay­log­ic.

I was par­tic­u­lar­ly pleased to see who won the bat­tle, and why.

The jury said there may have been oth­er con­tenders that had sounder busi­ness mod­els, but they award­ed the 25,000 Euros to the team that had “a big idea about chang­ing the world:” Pel­i­can House, for their cir­cu­lar-econ­o­my star­tup: head­phones you lease instead of own. They set out to solve one prob­lem: you buy an expen­sive set of head­phones, use them hard, a sin­gle wire breaks or a con­nec­tion comes loose, you’ve got sound in one ear or crack­les every time you plug them in, and most peo­ple throw them away and buy anoth­er. This despite the fact that the real­ly expen­sive bit, the speak­ers, are prob­a­bly ful­ly func­tion­al, along with 90% of the rest of the head­phone. Their solu­tion: pay 5 euros a mon­th for a real­ly good piece of gear. Pel­i­can House will replace it if it breaks, fix it, and turn it around to anoth­er cus­tomer. The head­phones are mod­u­lar as well — so you can replace just the com­po­nent that fails. And instead of hard-wiring the cable into the head­set? YES, they do what qual­i­ty head­phone man­u­fac­tur­ers used to do as a rule: run a plug instead. Step on a cable? Plug pops out instead of rip­ping a wire from a sol­dered con­nec­tion.

The big­ger prob­lem that they’re tak­ing on, of course, is throw-away con­sump­tion — one of the root caus­es of our planet’s per­il. Pel­i­can House is a per­fect illus­tra­tion of the kind of “Entre­pre­neuri­al Activism” that Elon Musk is prac­tic­ing, which I talked about in my keynote.

#ADE15 Inno­va­tion Bat­tle Keynote from Bri­an Fitzger­ald on Vimeo.

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