Norwegian start-up wins Europe’s largest cleantech contest

A company that turns dry, sandy soil into productive farmland using a fully organic mixture of clay and water has won this year’s ClimateLaunchpad competition, beating out 700 competitors from across 28 countries.

Norwegian start-up Desert Control won for its NanoClay product, which combines clay and water in a patented mixing process to transform sandy soil into fertile land. NanoClay is applied directly into the irrigation water and uses sprinkles to spread it over the land. The mix sinks into the soil to create a 40-60 centimetre deep layer that can retain water like a sponge, thereby stopping the water from evaporating and ensuring optimal growing conditions, explains Desert Control’s website.

“To cultivate sandy soil into fertile land normally takes 7-15 years, we do it in 7 hours. One application lasts a minimum of 5 years. What’s more is that it’s completely organic and doesn’t use any chemicals,” the company claims.

Desert Control says its product offers customers a number of benefits, including water savings of between half to two-thirds of what they are currently using to irrigate their land. And not only does it boost yield increase on anything planted in soil treated with NanoClay and fertiliser, it even contributes to overall efforts to combat climate change: turning desert into fertile land lowers the surface temperature by around 15 degrees Celsius and reduces CO2 emissions by 15-17 tonnes per hectare, according to the company’s website.

This year’s competition attracted a record number of entrants, with over 700 cleantech entrepreneurs applying from across 28 countries. A total of 82 teams were shortlisted to the ClimateLaunchpad competition to refine their business model and perfect their proposition and pitch.

As this year’s winner, Desert Control walks away with a GBP 10,000 prize and a place in the Climate-KIC Accelerator, an 18-month EU acceleration programme to help cleantech companies achieve successful commercialisation in their market niche.

Andreas Julseth, a participant from Desert Control, said: “We knew we had a great idea, but through the programme we have been able to validate that there is market out there. We look forward to taking our business to the next level in the Climate-KIC Accelerator.”


Photo credit: ClimateLaunchpad/Desert Control

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