Woola, which produces environmentally friendly packaging material, has won the Estonian final for Europe’s largest greentech competition Powerup! and will represent Estonia at the international final competition in June.
Under the leadership of Tehnopol Business Campus and Science Park, the prestigious competition in the field of sustainable energy took place last month in Estonia for the sixth time.
Woola (https://www.woola.xyz) — a startup company established at the end of 2019, which produces packaging material from sheep’s wool residue was selected as both the audience’s favourite and the startup company of the year, beating out six other finalists in the Estonian final held on April 30.
According to Anna-Liisa Palatu, one of the founders of Woola, the idea for the company arose from the team’s own experience: “As the operator of an e-shop, we saw how much plastic was sent out with each package. We looked for an environmentally friendly alternative to bubble wrap and found a solution in wool. Today, we are working with several e-shops and Omniva to further develop our packaging, and we have opened a round of funding to attract investment. The PowerUp! Competition came at the very right moment, because it allows us to introduce our ideas and hopefully find funders outside Estonia as well.”
The Estonian final jury included Bolt co-founder Martin Villig, BaltCap Growth Fund partner Heidi Kakko, InnoEnergy investment manager Lukasz Skarka, United Angels VC founder and partner Gerri Kodres, and Startup Wise Guys CFO and partner Dag Ainsoo.
According to Heidi Kakko, Woola’s new and smart approach to solving a large-scale problem was a decisive factor in its selection. «By producing packaging out of wool, which 90% of the time isn’t used at all, Woola can reduce the problem of plastic packaging waste. If wool-pressed packaging is made available at a price level comparable to plastic packaging, the market will certainly be happy to adopt it,» she said.
“The biggest distinguishing value of the PowerUp! Competition is the focus on the environment and the sustainable use of resources — only sustainable businesses operate in the long run, and similar competitions help to raise awareness of problems and find better solutions to them,” added Kakko.
Heleri Holm, project manager of Tehnopol Startup Incubator, pointed out that before each PowerUp! Estonian final, Tehnopol organizes a multi-day bootcamp for the participants, where the teams of startups work hard on the company’s value proposition and differentiation from competitors, under the guidance of experienced business mentors, as well as developing presentation skills. «Participants value the opportunity to learn from experts as well as from each other, because although everyone has different business ideas, the concerns and goals of startups are the same,» Holm said, emphasizing the importance of bootcamps.
By winning the local final and the audience’s favourite title, Woola received a total of $ 15,000 in credit from Amazon Web Services (AWS) for participating in the AWS Activate program and receiving business support. Up Catalyst, another startup company, won tickets to the sTARTUp Day 2021 Festival, which will be organized by the Environmental Investment Center.
As the winner of the Estonian round, Woola will advance to the international final competition, where finalists from 14 European countries will compete for a prize fund of 65,000 euros and possible investments.
The PowerUp! Competition is part of the EIT InnoEnergy Challenge, which provides participating companies with financial investment, assistance from top professionals in product and service development, piloting and marketing strategies, as well as support in expanding into international markets and in finding investments.
More information about the PowerUp! Competition is available here: https://powerup.innoenergy.com/