Six years ago, two engineers decided to roll out a green carpet in Berlin for international accomplishments in environmental tech. Marco Voigt, co-founder of what is now Europe’s biggest green award, talks about the latest trends in environmentally friendly technology and why they got started in Berlin.
WebMagazin: Can you tell us a little bit about the background of the GreenTec Awards, and why you set up in Berlin?
Marco Voigt, GreenTec Awards co-founder: The GreenTec Awards, “Germany’s Green Carpet”, took place in 2008 for the first time and by now have become Europe’s largest environmental and business prize. We provide a platform that puts a spotlight on green technologies that combine sustainability and economic viability. Supporters, guests and ambassadors include celebrities such as Sir Bob Geldof, Rea Garvey, Franziska Knuppe, Christiane Paul, and Christoph Metzelder.
We want to change the old-fashioned image of “green” by advocating a green lifestyle in a modern and innovative way. This is why we set up in the heart of Berlin, being one of Europe’s most creative cities at the moment: A truly inspiring place to be in order to make a difference!
Tell us about the categories for the GreenTec Awards. What kind of projects can apply?
Our wide range of categories covers pressing environmental topics as well as everyday issues: we will be honouring projects in 15 categories at the upcoming GreenTec Awards in May 2015. Everyone can apply; former awardees include self-built catamarans for cleaning the oceans of plastic waste, “Sunny Bags” with solar panels that charge your iPhone, an urban community that keeps bees in the city, or world-class cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and his climate protection films. We further give out a special award in the category Music to environmentally conscious artists like Rea Garvey, Schiller, Morten Harket, or Clark Datchler from Johnny Hates Jazz.
Can you tell us some of the highlights and your favourite projects from previous years?
I still remember the first GreenTec Awards where we awarded Sky Sails and their marine kite wind propulsion. The online platform and community foodsharing distributes leftover food to the needy, and Continental manufacture car tires out of rubber made from dandelion. In 2010, Car2Go were awarded at a time when everyone was sceptical and nobody saw the innovation in it.
The crucial point is that they pulled it off with a modern and trendy concept that’s thought out from end to end. Moreover, our awardee Joulex has become known as the SAP of energy and demonstrates how the award can push green products: awarded in the category Start-up in 2010, they have been taken over by Cisco for 100 million dollars in 2013.
Personally, being a huge fan of aha, it felt particularly exciting to hand over the GreenTec Award in the category music to Morten Harket for his environmental commitment in 2012 myself.
Which trends do you predict to be big at the GreenTec Awards in 2015?
E-mobility is going to be big: the Formula-E will take place in Berlin in May 2015, and the GreenTec Awards will serve as some kind of prelude to the race. There will be several campaigns in cooperation with our long-term partner Porsche and their e-hybrid model Panamera S E-Hybrid that also shuttles our celebrity guests to the Green Carpet. Porsche has shown the potential and the possibilities of e-mobility for years.
What is more, we are planning to get Jerry Brown on stage, current governor of California and lifelong committed environmentalist.
Do you have any advice for young companies starting off in the world of sustainable green tech?
Find your own way. Be confident about what you do. Check out what others do and try to make it better. Ask yourself: Do I have a good product or not? Is there a target market for the product or not? Moreover, it’s crucial where you found your company: Berlin is a very good place to be at the moment with regard to green ideas.
How did you get to cooperate with ProSieben?
In the first place the chemistry was just right. We realized this was a typical win-win-situation: we provide the glamorous gala and perfect topics for Galileo, and ProSieben provides the far-reaching stage for those green issues. What is more, Galileo addresses young people – potential founders and talents that are really important to the green economy.
Can you tell us about the significance of the online voting (which is taking place from November 6th, 2014, until January 11th, 2015)?
The online voting is a great opportunity for everyone to foster society’s change in attitudes, to fuel green technologies and to put them in the spotlight. There are great projects among the TOP 10, from laundry care without any detergents, clean solar light for areas without access to electricity, refillable coffee capsules, to seaweed insulation from the Mediterranean. 100,000 registered votes just last year show us that the public gladly accepts the chance to help shape a greener future. At the same time, we also receive more and more international applications from foreign countries such as Australia, New Zealand, China, USA, Thailand, Italy, Sweden, or the Netherlands.
Discover the best green technologies of the year and vote for the GreenTec Awards 2015 here.