MERLIN Innovation Awards 2024 - MIA

MERLIN seeks new and widely applicable solutions for restoring or enabling financial benefit for freshwater ecosystems. The winner were selected in two categories:

  • Product of the year 2024
  • Service of the year 2024

Benefits

  • Unique opportunity to pitch your product/service to
    18 European freshwater restoration projects and their managers and many other decision makers and stakeholders
  • Chance to be part of the systemic transformative change of our society and economy
  • Recognition within the European freshwater ecosystem community with your product/service
    featured on the widely read Freshwater Blog
  • Automatic inclusion in the MERLIN Marketplace if your application is accepted
    for the MERLIN Innovation Awards 2024

The MERLIN Innovation Awards (MIA) were launched by the European Union’s flagship project MERLIN. The MIA recognise new and widely applicable solutions for restoring the functions of freshwater ecosystems or enabling their financial benefit.

The best innovative solutions have been selected in two categories: the MIA Product of the year and the MIA Service of the year.

And the MIA 2024 winners are..

Planet Srl - MIA 2024 "Product of the year"

SEADS Sea Defence Solutions - MIA 2024 "Service of the year"

 

 

Product of the year

Mangrove Technology Platform (MTP) by Planet Srl

Company Description

Planet Srl is an Italian SME dedicated to developing innovative products for environmental protection. Planet’s vision is “no green without blue,” namely, no reforestation and ecosystem restoration without fresh water. The journey began between 2012 and 2014 with the study of mangroves as part of the Certified Biomimicry Program (Biomimicry Institute, USA). Recognizing the urgent need for innovative approaches to address environmental challenges, the team was motivated to replicate the multifaceted functionalities observed in mangroves (e.g., saltwater desalination, biological ecosystem restoration, and significant CO2 sequestration). This led to the development of the Mangrove Technology Platform (MTP). This modular system tackles water scarcity and contributes to ecosystem restoration and climate change mitigation, kick-starting and supporting reforestation in water-scarce areas. The MTP is the core of Planet’s mission: “We keep the Earth habitable: we provide freshwater, regenerate soil, save biodiversity and clean air.” Planet has gained substantial traction through impactful partnerships and commercial relationships. Partnerships within EU-funded projects such as HYDROUSA (EUR 380,000) and INNO4CFIs (EUR 610,000) have significantly propelled our solution, enriching our collaborative ecosystem with strategic alliances with international technological, business, and research partners.

Product Description

Planet has engineered a modular system named Mangrove Technology Platform (MTP). The MTP is a smart system designed to facilitate the planting and growth of trees in arid and semi- arid regions without exacerbating the depletion of freshwater sources. The MTP integrates two key technologies: firstly, a desalination system that harnesses solar irradiation to passively convert saltwater into freshwater, also producing edible salt as a byproduct; and secondly, an efficient water-saving irrigation system tailored for effectively watering the deep root apparatus of the plants. The overall system is bolstered by a dedicated IoT infrastructure, allowing for the accurate monitoring and management of water flows. This approach promotes plant growth, avoiding competition with the agricultural sector for fertile soil and freshwater resources, and ensures successful tree establishment post- transplant. The primary goal of the MTP is to offer a novel and sustainable carbon farming approach by facilitating small- medium scale agro-reforestation in dryland environments as a strategy for addressing the impacts of climate change and striving towards carbon neutrality.

Product Differentiation

The primary competitive sector for the Mangrove Technology Platform (MTP) is in Reverse Osmosis for farming, where Elemental Water, Winture, and Hatenboer- Water operate, among others. The MTP stands out primarily due to its operating principle, as it is based on the basic physical principles of evaporation and condensation triggered by sun irradiation. This characteristic renders it inherently passive at its core. Another significant advantage is its ability to treat saltwater across various concentrations without replacing or adding dedicated components or membranes. Moreover, unlike traditional desalination processes that typically discharge brine directly into the ocean, causing environmental and economic impacts, the MTP incorporates a Zero Brine Discharge system, producing edible salt as a byproduct.

Place, client, and respective year the product was implemented and tested successfully: In 2018, Planet’s initial Mangrove Technology Platform installation was in Nicosia, Cyprus. The second MTP facility, operational since 2020 in Tinos island (GR).

Visit website from Planet Srl

 

 

Service of the year

SEADS Sea Defence Solutions

Company Description

SEADS’s mission is to protect the Oceans by cleaning rivers. Our vision is to stop 1 million tons of plastic from entering the Ocean by 2035, creating 10.000 jobs for the sorting, transportation, and management of the collected materials through a fully circular self-funding model that both protects the environment and supports higher quality of life standards for local communities around the world.

Service Description

We offer an award-winning solution to collect plastic in rivers. The company also provides proprietary guidance that enables extracting the maximum value from the collected waste by creating waterways plastic credits and upcycling the plastic into high-end design items like chairs, tables, or furniture, creating a Blueprint to transform Ocean Plastic into Wealth. Benefits are holistic: cities get improved recycling rates, less waste ends up in landfills or in the ocean, vital industries like tourism, real estate, and fisheries are protected, and new jobs are created. Our BlueBarriers were tested by the University of Florence in the Tiber and Lamone rivers, and long-term installations are active on the Aniene and Sarno rivers. SEADS is one of The Economist’s top 10 OceanChangeMakers.

Service Differentiation

The BLUE BARRIERS are the only patented solution (Approved: #WO2019215584A1) designed for plastic collection in rivers that stop plastic also below the surface (up to 1m), resists flooding conditions, allows navigation, and reduces maintenance. Bubble barriers, Superficial Barriers, and Nets are all technologies designed for different purposes and are, therefore, ineffective in collecting riverine plastic. When we combine our Blue Barriers with clear guidelines to extract value from the collected waste, we enable Public administrations to cover waste management costs, offering a self-funding circular solution that every public administration will be attracted to adopt.

Place, client, and respective year the service was implemented and tested successfully: Aniene River 2022 - ongoing. The client is the Regional Authority of Lazio, Italy.

Visit SEADS website

Finalists and Jury