The 2009 competition

A solar-powered cardboard cooker which aims to transform the lives of hundreds of millions of villagers in developing countries is the winner of our global competition for innovation to tackle climate change.

The Kyoto Box is targeted at the three billion people who use firewood to cook and has the potential to deliver huge environmental and social benefits. The $75,000 prize will fund large scale trials in 10 countries.

“We’re saving lives and saving trees, “ says Kenya-based entrepreneur Jon Bøhmer. “I doubt if there is any other technology that can make so much impact for so little money.”

We launched the Climate Change Challenge with three aims:

  1. to raise the profile of green innovation and demonstrate that there are solutions and money can be made from them;
  2. to find the best low-carbon innovations from around the world and help them find funding by showcasing them to a global business audience; and
  3. to help the winner immediately with a $75,000 prize to develop its project and bring it to scale.

The competition has generated worldwide interest. We received nearly 300 entries from around the world and the five finalists came from four continents. They included: a feed additive which reduces the methane produced by cows and sheep; hollow tiles cooled by evaporation which can replace air conditioning systems; covers for truck wheels which reduce fuel use by cutting drag; and a giant industrial microwave which fixes carbon in organic material as charcoal.

Some 23,000 people visited the competition site, registering almost 120,000 page views. Thousands voted for the winner, which was chosen by combining the public vote with the assessment of our eminent panel of global business leaders, innovators and climate change experts.

To read more about the winner, click here.

Why are we doing it?

Climate change is widely acknowledged as mankind’s most pressing challenge and what we do in the next few years will determine whether we can avoid serious impacts.

There’s an urgent need for new approaches, new products and services, to tackle climate change, so Forum for the Future teamed up with The Financial Times and HP to unleash the power of innovation by launching this global competition.

The FT Climate Change Challenge aims to seek out and showcase the most exciting innovations - practical ideas which will reduce emissions and make us more resilient to the change ahead, and which can be developed, brought to market and scaled up to achieve maximum impact.

The winning project will receive $75,000 – sponsored by HP – to help get it up and running more swiftly.

But all the best ideas will reach a global audience of business leaders through the pages and website of the FT, and in this way the competition aims to help a range of projects to attract the support they need to scale up and maximise their ability to tackle climate change.

How does the competition work?

The competition aims to find the most promising innovations to tackle climate change. The winning entry could be a technical advance in reducing emissions or a social innovation helping individuals become more resilient to the local impacts of climate change.

We want ideas that will work. The key requirement is that the innovations will have moved off the drawing board and demonstrated their feasibility, but will not yet be commercially sucessful. They will have been piloted or prototyped and might have attracted seed financing or gained recognition locally. Entries must specify how they would use the prize money to develop and extend the product or service.

Innovations which have been developed by large companies or which already have major financial support will not be considered.

Entries will be judged according to four criteria:

  • Contribution to tackling climate change. Will it have a significant and tangible impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
  • Innovation. Is it a small incremental improvement, a step change in approach or does it offer a radical system change?
  • Scalability. How easy is it to roll out the idea on a larger scale and is the potential size of the audience limited in any way?
  • Broader sustainability benefits. Does the idea address climate change in a way that also encourages sustainable behaviour?

Forum for the Future reviews all the entries and selects a longlist of the 12 most innovative. The shortlist is selected by our eminent panel of judges. The winner is voted on by readers of the FT in conjunction with the judges.

In 2009 our judges are:

  • Lionel Barber
  • Sir Richard Branson
  • Eileen Claussen
  • Mark Hurd
  • Sir Terry Leahy
  • Dr Rajendra K Pachauri
  • Jonathon Porritt
  • Leon Sandler

(Profiles of the judges can be accessed here)

Read more about this challenge in the FT here

, Prize for 'Sun in the box' cooker, 9 April 2009
, Solar-powered cooker wins $75,000 climate prize, 9 April 2009
, Solar cooker wins climate contest, 9 April 2009
, Cardboard oven wins £50,000 green contest, 9 April 2009
, Climate change innovation products face public vote, 23 March 2009
, Five clean tech start ups awarded spot in the "shop window", 20 March 2009
Financial Times
, Innovation for the low-carbon age, 18 March 2009
, Climate entrepreneurs invited to compete for $75,000, 13 November 2008
Financial Times
, Good business sense, 7 November 2008

Terms and Conditions

1. No purchase is necessary to enter the competition (“Competition”). By entering into this Competition entrants agree to these terms and conditions and acknowledge that failure to comply with them may result in disqualification.

2. The Competition is run by The Financial Times Limited (registered No. 227590 England) and is run in association with Forum for the Future, (registered charity number 1040519, England) (“FF”) and Hewlett-Packard Company (a Delaware corporation) (“HP”) (together the “Promoters”).

3. To enter the Competition, either: 1) complete the online entry form or 2) download the entry form at and email the complete entry form (“Entry”). All Entries must be received before 5pm GMT Friday 30th January 2009. Entries must be submitted on the official entry form in English and the text entered must not exceed the boxed spaces provided on the form. All other forms of entry will not be considered. The Promoters are unable to acknowledge receipt of individual Entries.

4. This Competition is open to Entrants worldwide (”Entrants”). Entrants (and their immediate family) who are directors and employees of The Financial Times Limited (“FT”), Forum for the Future or Hewlett-Packard Company, or their associated companies or agencies are prohibited from entering. The competition shall be void where prohibited by local law. All national and local laws and regulations shall apply.

5. Multiple or incomplete Entries will be deemed to be invalid. Once submitted, it will not be possible to amend an Entry.

6. As the named author of the submitted Entry, you warrant that: a) all information provided in the Entry is true, accurate and correct; b) the Entry is your own original work (and not a copy or substantial copy of any other work) and contains no defamatory or libellous material; and c) your Entry does not include details on any application or process which may be patentable unless you have secured the patent or this is pending.

7. Prize. There is one prize consisting of US$75,000 to be specifically spent on developing and extending the product or service which is detailed in the winner’s Entry (“Prize”). The Prize shall be payable by bank transfer and the Promoters reserve the right to withhold or suspend payment of the whole or part of the Prize if they deem so necessary in their reasonable discretion. If there are any taxes, levies or government imposts to be paid in respect of the Prize, these shall be the responsibility of, and be borne by, the winner.

8. The Prize will be awarded to the Entrant who is deemed by the Promoters to have submitted the most apposite and innovative Entry based on the challenge criteria set out at Twelve entries will be selected by the Promoters (“Long-List”) and such Entrants will be contacted before 20th February 2009 from the contact details provided. A short list of five entries (“Short-List”) will then be selected independently by a panel, which (at the current time) shall include Lionel Barber, Editor, Financial Times, Mark Hurd, Chairman of the Board and CEO, HP, Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future and Chairman, UK Sustainable Development Commission, Eileen Claussen,President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change and Strategies for the Global Environment, Sir Richard Branson, Chairman, Virgin Group, Sir Terry Leahy, CEO, Tesco, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Director-General, TERI and Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Leon Sandler, Executive Director, Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, MIT (“Judging Panel”) the Judging Panel members are subject to change.

9. The Short-List Entrants will be contacted by FF. Short-List Entries will then be published in the Financial Times (newspaper and online) before April 1st 2009.
Subject to Clause 13, FT readers shall be invited to vote on the Short-List to determine the winner (“Winner”). The Winner will be notified prior to an announcement in the Financial Times (newspaper and online), which shall take place before 30th April 2009.

10. The Winner will be required to confirm acceptance of the Prize within three days of notification. If the Prize is declined, or unclaimed by the Winner, or if the Winner cannot be contacted from the details supplied, a supplementary winner may be selected at the discretion of the Promoters. Such supplementary winner shall be the Short-List Entrant who received the next highest number of votes from FT readers. The original Entry that was chosen will be forfeited.

11. The Winner will be required to enter into a short form agreement with FF which shall document the manner in which the Prize money will be used towards the nominated product or service. Twelve months after the award of the Prize, the
Winner will be obliged to provide confirmation of how the Prize money has been allocated.

12. Entrants warrant and represent that they will not directly or indirectly do or attempt to do anything which distorts, hampers or otherwise interferes with the legitimacy of the voting process referred to in Clause 9 or the spirit of the
Competition, including but not limited to using multiple email accounts registered to one user.

13. In the event that FT or FF reasonably suspect that the voting process has been distorted or hampered in any way, the Promoters reserve the right to select the Winner using a combination of the votes received from FT readers as well as the decision of the Judging Panel.

14. Entrants will retain all intellectual property rights in their Entry ideas. Where an Entry is selected for the Short-List, the Entrant will be required to enter into a short written agreement with FF and FT which will set out details stating which parts of the Entry may be published in the Financial Times. The Promoters reserve the right to remove from the Short-List any Entrant who is unwilling to enter into such

15. Other than as stated in these terms and conditions, the Promoters will treat all Entries as confidential when reviewed. Where an Entry is considered for the Long-List, additional information may be sought included references. Entrants agree to provide all reasonable assistance with this process.

16. By entering the Competition, Entrants agree to take part in any publicity (including without limitation being available for photo shoots and other publicity work) relating to the Competition if they are invited to do so and without further
compensation. Entrants acknowledge that, if they are selected for the Short List, Entrants and their Entries will be featured in the FT Newspaper and on and
may be required to provide additional information and interviews to support the publicity. The Winner will also be required to participate in follow-up media coverage in the Financial Times. Where Entrants are based outside the UK, Entrants will use their reasonable endeavours to comply with this Clause 14.

17. The decision process and selection of the Short-List, Long-List and Winner is final and no correspondence will be entered into. The Prize is non-transferable. The Promoters give no warranty or guarantee in relation to the number of Entrants who take part in the Competition.

18. The Promoters reserve the right to cancel or amend these Terms and Conditions. At the time of the Competition launch the Prize is offered in good faith but should events beyond the control of the Promoters make it impossible to award the Prize, the Promoters reserve the right to vary or amend the Prize (for a prize of equal or greater value) and Entrants agree not to hold the Promoters liable for any loss they incur from such changes. The Promoters reserve the right to extend the dates of the Competition in the event of low Entry numbers.

19. To the fullest extent that may be excluded by law the Promoters accept no responsibility for error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operations or transmission, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to or alterations of Entrymaterials, or for technical, network, telephone equipment, electronic, computer, hardware or software malfunctions of any kind, or inaccurate transmission of, or failure to receive Entry information on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any web site or any combination thereof. The Promoters are also not responsible for any injury or damage to an Entrant's or any other person's computer related to or resulting from playing or downloading anymaterials relating to the Competition, or for mail-in or submitted entries that are lost, late, misdirected, incomplete or illegible. Proof of submission does not guarantee receipt of Entry by the Promoters.


21. These terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English law. Disputes arising in connection with this Agreement shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.





The Finalists

The short list

1. Carbonscape, New Zealand
2. ADEF Ltd, USA
3. Neem Biotech, UK
4. Loughborough University, UK

5. The long-list

1. Carbonscape, New Zealand

The Black Phantom is a machine designed to turn biomass into charcoal, a very stable form of carbon that can be stored underground in a carbon sink.

The machine, small enough to fit inside a shipping container and be transported anywhere in the world, is “effectively one giant microwave”. In goes biomass – agricultural waste, wood thinnings, even sewage – and out comes a dense, carbon-rich material.

The technique has been used for tens of thousands of years by farmers worldwide to improve yields. But scientists have now discovered that charcoal remains “remarkably stable”, making an ideal carbon sink. The material could be buried underground in former coalmines or used to fertilise soil as ‘biochar’.

Another possibility is to burn the charcoal as a super-efficient fuel in power stations and cooking stoves. Even then, the process remains carbon-neutral as long as more biomass is grown to absorb the resulting emissions.

Professor Chris Turney explains that, while the unit runs off electricity, it still fixes more carbon than is created by generating that power. It is also possible to ‘recycle’ the gases produced and turn them into ‘green electricity’ to power the machine. Long-term, Carbonscape is looking to generate other green bi-products from their approach

Using charcoal as a carbon sink is attracting a lot of attention worldwide, with officials at the Poznan climate conference declaring the practice could eventually be eligible for carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol. Carbon sink technology “could become a source of income for the developing world, and an incentive for them to plant trees on a cyclical basis,” he says.

Download a higher res image here.

“Combines nature’s ability to sequester carbon with a high-tech solution to make it permanent”,
Mark Hurd, chief executive, president and chairman, HP

 2. ADEF Ltd, USA 

Deflecktors are inexpensive, lightweight covers fitted to truck wheels, which improve fuel efficiency by reducing drag.

Fitted onto the eight wheels of a truck and its trailer, the Deflecktor cover – made of lightweight fabric – is calculated to cut fuel consumption by two per cent. It works by covering the wheel holes to reduce turbulence as lorries move at speed. Entrepreneur Jon Fleck points out that on industrial-sized wheels, each of the holes is roughly the size of a car window.

The fuel-saving statistics have already aroused interest from multi-national trucking company Schneider National, which is testing the product on its 15,000-strong fleet. On average, it takes six months to break even on the $50 cost of each Deflecktor.

“I’m coming at this from an economic perspective,” says Mr Fleck. “Quite frankly, carbon emissions aren’t top of the agenda for these companies.” He adds that there is additional money-making potential from advertising on the fabric.

Mr Fleck designed his first wheel cover 20 years ago, but the product virtually made him bankrupt. Its 50-odd metal components were hard to fit and its weight (3.5kg) cancelled out some of the fuel efficiency gains. It wasn’t until he saw a pop-up laundry basket at a trade fair in Germany that he had the idea to use fabric and wire instead: “That was the lightbulb moment.” The Deflecktor, made of just nine parts, weighs just 800g.

If all American trucks used the covers, Mr Fleck calculates they would save 460 million gallons of diesel a year. He says recent landmark legislation in California requiring long-haul truckers to fit aerodynamic devices could be just what his invention needs to really take off.

Download a higher res image here.

“This simple idea could make a huge difference”,
Sir Richard Branson, chairman, president and chief executive, the Virgin Group

“Easy to implement, very scalable – helps the environment and saves money”, Leon Sandler, executive director of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3. Neem Biotech, UK 

Mootral is a garlic-based feed additive that reduces the methane produced by cows, sheep and other ruminants.

The extract is a natural antibiotic that limits the growth of bacteria in the ruminant’s stomach. The key ingredient is allicin, a compound derived from garlic, which reduced methane production by 94 per cent in a laboratory trial simulating ruminants’ digestive processes. Animal trials have succeeded in cutting methane emissions by 15%, and they are continuing to work out the optimum dosage and frequency.

Methane is a greenhouse gas 22 times more potent than carbon dioxide. it is estimated that the digestive processes of the world’s herds and flocks are responsible for 20 per cent of global warming.

Neem Biotech, which is already producing the additive on a commercial scale for Carbon Mootral CIC (Community Interest Company), points out that the feed additives can get to work straight away.

“Many carbon-offsetting initiatives are frustratingly long-term, but Mootral can reduce methane emissions with immediate effect,” says director Professor Jeremy Stone.

The product also has potential for implementation on a global scale. Estonia is already implementing an emissions tax for farmers ‘per ruminant capita’, with Denmark and Ireland still chewing the idea over. “Meat production is huge in terms of business interests and livelihoods. This is a way to cut down on emissions without taxing beef.”

Professor Stone suggests the airline industry could assist in the roll-out of the project. “Airlines have a vast carbon footprint to mitigate,” he says. By encouraging their passengers to purchase carbon-offsetting credits, they could finance the distribution of the additive to farms beneath their flight path, and gain ‘Mootral’ status.

Download a higher res image here.

“A novel idea with the potential to have a real impact in reducing carbon emissions from the food chain”,
Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive, Tesco

4. Loughborough University, UK

Loughborough University has produced ceiling tiles that can cool rooms with minimal energy use.

Instead of pumping cool air into a room, a false ceiling uses convection to draw warm exhaust air from the room. The air evaporates water held in a wick surface in the tiles, and the tiles cool instantly. Moreover, they don’t clog and the materials don’t degrade, so there are no significant maintenance costs.

“If you dip your hand into water and blow over it, you instantly feel cooler. Evaporation is a very powerful mechanism,” Dr Harry Salt explains. “To cool a room with a floor area of 100m2 you only need two cubic centimetres of water per second – and the effect is instantaneous.”

Dr Salt and his colleague Professor Dennis Loveday have spent the last ten years developing an effective cooling system that uses minimal energy. It can replace a traditional air conditioning system in most climates or, if used alongside AC, will halve overall energy consumption.

“This is something I’ve taken very personally because of the vast potential it has,” Dr Salt explains. “Air conditioning accounts for three per cent of the UK’s electricity, so if our system were to be rolled out it could save 1.5 per cent of that electricity. That’s two million tonnes of carbon a year.”

Dr Salt and Professor Loveday are hoping to have their tiles on the market by 2010. The product is in final trials, but they need to invest more time and money in demonstration and marketing. They anticipate a significant export potential to the United States and other hot climates.

Dr Salt says: “If it’s too hot, it’s harder for people to work. Global warming will see increased demand for cooling, and this innovation can provide cooling with minimal energy usage.”

Download a higher res image here.

“This is an innovative design that will likely provide emissions reductions in building cooling systems”,
Eileen Claussen, president of Strategies for the Global Environment and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change

The long-list

Clean Gas Technology

“Thermal plasma” – gas heated to over 3000C – is used to treat combustion gases from factories and power plants and separate carbon and other pollutants. The technology has a valuable byproduct: raw materials that can be used to make products like plastics or paint. (CarbonoBrasil, Brazil)

Low-cost Bamboo Housing

Pre-fabricated housing kits made from bamboo will meet the growing demand for affordable housing in Latin America. The project aims to reduce demand for timber from rainforest trees and the use of expensive, energy-intensive materials like concrete and steel. (C02 BAMBU, USA/Nicaragua)

Biogas from Cassava Waste

Methane emitted from cassava crop waste will be used to generate zero emissions energy. The process will prevent emissions from rotting crops and create cheap, renewable, grid-connected electricity and organic fertiliser for low-income farmers. (GNEEDER, Nigeria)

Consumer Solar Packages

Owners of large-scale residential or commercial real-estate are offered free installation of solar thermal technology in return for signing a long-term utility agreement to purchase energy at a capped discounted rate. The innovative business model removes the key barriers to adoption: up-front costs and the risk of energy price fluctuations.(Lumen Earth, Canada)

Solar Powered ICT Centres

A franchise network of solar-powered multi-media service centres aims to transform impoverished communities in developing countries. They will provide computers with Internet access and a cinema, offering a portfolio of pay-per-use entertainment and education services. (NICE International, Gambia)

Customised Climate Forecasting

An easy-to-use, web-based tool will provide businesses and governments with the information they need to adapt to climate change. It will show how changes of temperature, rainfall and winds are likely to affect specific locations in the future, enabling customers to develop strategies for minimising risk. (Svante Scientific, Inc., USA)

Texting for shared taxis

This system will allow people to text their travel destinations to a central computer that will arrange for customers going to the same place to share taxi. It is designed to reduce congestion and fuel usage and meet the demand for quick and safe travel. (Texxi, United Kingdom)

The Winner

A solar-powered cardboard cooker which aims to transform the lives of hundreds of millions of villagers in developing countries is the winner of the $75,000 prize in our global competition for innovation to tackle climate change.

The Kyoto Box is targeted at the three billion people who use firewood to cook and has the potential to deliver huge environmental and social benefits. “We’re saving lives and saving trees, “ says Kenya-based entrepreneur Jon Bøhmer. “I doubt if there is any other technology that can make so much impact for so little money.”

The box, which costs about five euros to make, aims to save some of the millions of children who die each year from drinking unclean water by allowing families to boil water and cut the health risks from smoke inhalation. Bøhmer believes it will halve the need for firewood, saving an estimated two tonnes of carbon per family per year, and sparing women from the time-consuming and sometimes dangerous job of gathering fuel.

The Kyoto Box uses the greenhouse effect to cook and can boil 10 litres of water in two hours. It consists of two boxes, one inside the other, with an acrylic cover which lets the sun’s power in and traps it. Black paint on the inner box and silver foil on the outer help concentrate the heat while a layer of straw or newspaper between the two provides insulation.

Bøhmer, is founder and chief executive of Kyoto Energy [], a Nairobi-based design and engineering company working on novel energy solutions for the developing world. He plans to use the prize to conduct mass trials in ten countries, including India, Indonesia, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Liberia.

He has developed a more robust, longer-lasting cooker in corrugated plastic, which can be mass-produced in existing factories as cheaply as the cardboard prototype, and he intends to produce 10,000 to use in the trials.

The trials will generate data to back an application for carbon credits, the crucial element which will make the project scalable, he explains. He expects each stove to make a yearly profit of 20-30 euros, which will more than cover the manufacturing cost. The surplus will fund production of a suite of other products which offer solar-powered solutions for villagers in the developing world: a torch; a plastic bag which heats and cleans water; and a smokeless cooker which burns biomass.

Bøhmer is quick to point out that this isn’t a charity. “We’re going to make money on this. This is a whole new kind of business. I think Grameen [the celebrated microfinance institution which offers affordable credit to individuals and communities in Bangladesh] has proven that there’s an interesting business at the bottom of the pyramid.”

Kyoto Energy is a real family affair. Bøhmer, a Norwegian, set it up with his Kenyan wife Neema, and has used his own money to fund the project. His father has mobilised support for the project back in Norway and his five-year-old daughter Amina, pictured above, helped build the prototype.

Download a high res picture here.

Read more about the competition and the finalists.

BBC, 9 April 2009
Prize for 'Sun in the box' cooker

Forbes, 9 April 2009
Solar-powered cooker wins $75,000 climate prize

FT, 9 April 2009
Solar cooker wins climate contest

Sky, 9 April 2009
Cardboard oven wins £50,000 green contest

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