Gearing up for Impact Fest:

Meet The Hague’s impact innovators

Leading up to ImpactFest, Europe’s largest impact meetup on November 5th, we will look in to the impact ecosystem in ImpactCity – The Hague as well as current impact developments, trends and innovations. ImpactCity facilitates entrepreneurs, from startups to established companies, NGO’s and impact investors who combine doing good with doing business, with a dedicated infrastructure. Through housing, connections to financing and an incredible support partner network, innovations for a better world get the best breeding ground possible to take off and pros pure.

The Hague is known globally as a city of peace, justice and human rights. It is therefore no surprise that the city’s startup ecosystem has evolved around these issues. But the city’s commitment to impact also attracts innovators developing solutions across a broad range of social and environmental issues.

“The Hague, the international city of peace and justice is a unique ecosystem, representing a wide mix of social investors and NGOs engaged in global and social issues and humanitarian action,” observes Mike Freni, who heads a rurally-focused connectivity startup called Kumbaya. “This makes it the ideal environment for doing business, [along with] the large talent pool of local IT, content and engineering developers.”

At Impact Fest next week, innovative entrepreneurs and organizations will present solutions designed to positively impact agriculture, energy, the environment, food waste, health, and more. Here’s a peek at seven startups from The Hague who are shaping the future of systems and technology for good.

Cricket One (Sustainable food)
CricketOne is working to satisfy the growing global population’s need for protein in a sustainable way. The company makes protein powder from crickets, which can be growing quickly, inexpensively, and require minimal resources compared to other animal products. It also has a livelihoods angle.

“Cricket One’s farming is based on an inclusive business model, built with local farmers,” Cricket One’s Bicky Nguyen explains.

Of course, crickets aren’t an easy sell in markets that aren’t accustomed to consuming insects. Nguyen says the team of entomologists, nutritionists and food scientists have been committed to refining taste and developing products that take more palatable forms, like flours, pastes and spreads.

Cricket One is already in the market, serving 12 countries in Asia, Europe and North America as an ingredients supplier. It is focused on scaling up production at its current facility and launching new products.

HaagseZwam (Food waste)
HaagseZwam is trying to boost sustainable food by repurposing waste into new food sources. The company reclaims used coffee grounds to grow oyster mushrooms for sale. Its mushrooms are for sale in retail outlets all over The Hague, and founder Annelies Goedbloed wants to expand across the Netherlands and see HaagseZwam’s Dutch vegan bitterballen sold in every restaurant in The Hague.

She also wants to see models like this replicated elsewhere in the food system. “With the abundance of waste, we can create food and jobs,” Goedbloed says. “This is just a simple example of how to solve problems, like waste and unemployment, and create something we need: food and jobs.”

Kumbaya (Connectivity)
Kumbaya believes access to knowledge is a basic human right. Today, where that access frequently depends on having a reliable electricity and internet connection, Kumbaya’s starting point is a solar-powered hub that can supply basic power to the more than one billion people worldwide without energy access. The Kumba Hub can power TV, Radio, broadband internet, WiFi, and connected devices, like weather and soil sensors for small farmers.

Mike Freni, who founded Kumbaya, sees applications for Kumbaya’s device and information services in everything from farming to education to community healthcare. For example, the Kumba Hub’s agricultural data collection is meant to inform farmers of field needs that could improve their yield, and thus their income.

The farming example illustrates Kumbaya’s particular focus on supporting the development of underserved rural communities. “Unless we invest in rural areas and develop strong rural economies with attractive prospects for young people, they will be forced to migrate,” Freni says.

Naïf (Health)
Naïf’s line of skincare products was started by Jochem Hes and Sjoerd Trompetter after they became parents. They were surprised and turned off by all of the chemicals in mainstream options. “Consumers are being misled by false claims and ingredients that are bad for humans or nature,” says Hes.

Naïf’s founders created a range of products for babies, kids and adults with no harmful ingredients. As their name suggests, they want customers to “shop naively” in a good way, “without being suspicious or afraid of being misled,” Hes explains.

The company’s skincare line, which covers everything from shampoo to sunscreen, is sold all over the Netherlands and Belgium.

Odd.Bot (Agriculture)
Odd.Bot is trying to change the environmental footprint of agriculture for the better through robotics. The startup is developing a weed-picking bot that will offset the need for chemical herbicides, which seep into water sources and alter soil health. “People no longer want to eat poison or see poison getting into the environment,” founder Martjin Lukaart says.

Odd.Bot’s solution is a machine that can scan and be trained to recognize weeds growing amid planted crops, and then remove them with a robotic arm. Lukaart says the solution will offset the need for manual picking and can be used alongside biological herbicides.

The idea was born out of last year’s ESMERA robotics challenge. Odd.Bot has now refined its first algorithm to recognize weeds common among organic carrot crops and is beginning to develop the machinery to do the work. It expects to begin field testing in the spring of 2020 and hopes to be market ready in 2021.

Project BB (Environment)
Nine billion kilos of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Edwin Bos sees evidence of it when he visits the beach at home in The Hague. “At Scheveningen “beach cleaners”—large diesel tractors—drive over the beach by night to clean up waste. They scrape and dispose of large pieces. But small plastics, including cigarette filters, are returned to the beach,” Bos explains. Those small plastics eventually break down into microplastics that are turning up everywhere, including in the water and food we consume.

Bos’s solution is a beach sweeping robot, called BB for “BeachBot”. BB will use image recognition to detect, recognize and clean up small plastic waste on the beach. The data that will be collected will provide insight into quantities and types of waste found.

Project BB also has a social component: it posts pictures that anyone can classify and tag to help BB differentiate waste from natural beach items. Bos hopes will make people more aware and feel invested in the problem. BB’s prototyping phase has just kicked off. Bos hopes the team will have a unit ready for beach testing by mid-2020.

WellDecommissioned (Energy)
WellDecommissioned understands that fossil fuels still supply most of the world’s energy needs. It also knows that the future is in clean energy, and that existing oil and gas facilities have to be safely decommissioned.

“Decommissioning of all oil and gas fields worldwide, of which there are more than two million, will take decades of work and likely cost more than $1 trillion. We need to step up the game,” says Marc Nijmeijer, who started WellDecommissioned after working with Shell.

WellDecommissioned works with companies to develop comprehensive execution plans for the decommissioning and reuse of oil and gas assets. “As we review assets for decommissioning, we also screen them on reuse potential for clean energy purposes, like geothermal,” Nijmeijer explains. “This is a great benefit where we help making clean energy more economical.”

The company has 10 projects underway and is also involved in studies on improved decommissioning preparation in Europe and the U.K..

Want to find out more about these and other innovative entrepreneurs, better yet, meet them ? Join us at ImpactFest on November 5th:!