Press release ¤ Information de presse

Nov 03, 2020

ISC3 Innovation Challenge - Zila Works/USA wins 25.000 €

The winners of the Innovation Challenge were selected and celebrated on the last day of the online Investor Forum on October 23rd. The Innovation Challenge 2019/2020 finalists in the field of Sustainable Living and Building ranked as follows:
Zila Works, USA, Innovation Challenge Award Winner 2019/2020, won a monetary prize of 25,000 EUR. The start-up uses industrial hemp to change the way that plastics are made. ZILA Works’ innovation fills an important niche in the circular economy. A shift away from fossil fuels to the development of renewable sourced materials to provide the virgin feedstock that would still be required to compensate for remaining cycle losses, despite the increased recycling and reuse.

Apart from winning the audiences hearts during their pitch on Day 3 of the event, EcoAct Tanzania also won the Innovation Challenge Award 2019/2020 in the newly created category “Best Social Impact” that is endowed with EUR 5,000. EcoAct Tanzania have developed an energy-conserving plastic extrusion technology to recycle and transform post-consumer plastic garbage and packaging materials into durable and long lasting plastic lumbers. As plastics are an affordable alternative to wood timbers in Africa, they help to preserve the forests and prevent further mitigation of climate change. 

The Award in the newly created category “Best Regional Impact” was given to the Ghanian start-up Ecovon who also won a monetary prize of EUR 5,000. Ecovon is aiming to supply the global market with a formaldehyde-free bio-based wood alternative that is better for the people and planet. This innovative technology positions Ecovon as the first manufacturer of non-additive, bio-based, renewable wood products in the local Ghanaian market.

Beyond these prize winners, honourable mentions for Best Female Founders went out to:

  • Ms Jessica Owusu-Boyeake and the MESOCARPE team/Germany for their flexible "Salt Crystal Wall", which is an active biodegradable membrane made from renewable resources and minerals, which regulates indoor air quality by filtering pollutants and bacteria., 
  • Ms Cristina Acuṅa Rougier and the IDEA-TEC team/Chile for their process that permits recycling styrofoam, transforming it into paints for buildings in an efficient and cost-competitive way, and
  • Ms Lenka Mojau and the MOJAU INNOVENTA team/South Africa for their MCPC solution, which is an interlocking plastic brick product that has many applications in the construction area. MPCP allows for a rapid and affordable building of new houses and can be demolished without causing any damage to the material.

In the last newly created category, an honourable mention was awarded to the Jordan-based start-up AKYAS for providing a regionally impactful, out-of-the-box solution. AKYAS was also covered in the ISC3 SoM series and developed a multi-use compostable bag that can be used in numerous settings regardless of sanitation infrastructure. The bag disinfects pathogens within the feces to prevent disease transmission and includes single-use hygiene products to ensure hand hygiene.


The Call for Innovation regarding the next Innovation Challenge 2021/2022 will start in January 2021 and will focus on sustainable chemistry and renewable energies.  

To know more about the contest and to apply for it, please visit

back to overview

© DECHEMA e.V. 1995-2021, Last update 03.11.2020

Theodor-Heuss-Allee 25
60486 Frankfurt
Telefon (069) 7564-0
Telefax (069) 7564-201

Dr. Kathrin Ruebberdt
Tel. +49 (0) 69 / 75 64 - 2 77
Fax +49 (0) 69 / 75 64 - 2 72
Become a member