Each year at the Xynteo Exchange in Norway, hundreds of business leaders and innovators come together and choose one ground-breaking 'Impact Maker' – a start-up that is doing well by doing good and has great potential for scale. The winner, which receives a cash prize of EUR50,000, is chosen from an impressive array of 50 solutions, who showcase how they are changing the world at the Exchange 'Marketplace'.
In 2018, the first Impact Maker Award was presented to the Oslo-based start-up Empower, who were chosen from a community of impressive competitors. Empower has a simple and powerful vision that "anyone, anywhere, should be able to pick up plastic waste, deliver to a collection point and receive a reward". The idea was inspired by the Norwegian bottle-recycling system, which manages to recover 97% of the country's plastic bottles. Six months on, we connected with Empower CEO and Founder, Wilhelm Myrer, to find out more about progress at Empower since the Exchange. Since November alone, Empower has collected 15 tonnes of plastic from new pilots in India, Laos, Nepal and Thailand, and is now preparing infrastructure pilots on three continents this summer. In conversation, Wilhelm reflected on what it meant to be selected for the Award and be part of a community of Impact Makers:
"Empower has received a huge boost from receiving the award. The prize money was crucial in the early stages of developing Empower, especially as we're exploring Blockchain technology to ensure better plastic traceability in the value chain. The whole Marketplace and the multitude of amazing solutions was also a great inspiration and experience to learn from."
At the Xynteo Exchange, Wilhelm and his team connected with potential customers, partners, political decision-makers and other key influencers in the waste-to-value ecosystem. These conversations brought new perspectives and helped Empower to establish relationships that are enabling it to scale at pace, removing increasingly more plastic waste from our environment.
"Another welcome outcome was to be featured in a Forbes article– this has enabled Empower to reach a wider global audience, resulting in some unexpected and encouraging connections with individuals and organisations longing for a solution like this. One such lead, for example, was in relation to improved plastic waste infrastructure in India," Wilhelm added.
The solutions that were showcased at the Marketplace responded to five 'Impact Challenges', representing some of the most complex systems challenges that the world faces today: - Feeding the world responsibly - Financing a sustainable future - Resourcing our world sustainably - Building stronger and more sustainable societies - Improving living conditions for all Alongside Empower, other Impact Makers from over 20 countries globally, sought to accelerate carbon-negative living spaces; to eradicate malaria; to address one of the largest silent health epidemics - the brain haemorrhage; to reverse the narrative about refugees; and to provide healthcare services to disenfranchised communities in South Africa.
The Marketplace and the Impact Maker Award are returning to the 2019 Xynteo Exchange stronger than ever before! In the coming weeks, we will launch this year's Impact Challenges, and search for unconventional and bold solutions that are making a positive change in the world. If you are a start-up, a global company, a foundation, a VC or a government agency aiming to help solve some of the world's systemic challenges, we would love to hear from you.