Six great sustainability startups – meet the winners of the Santander X Environmental Challenge

Tackling the climate emergency is the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetime. It will take the combined efforts of business, government, and citizens to win the Race to Zero – namely the creation of a healthy, resilient, and decarbonized economy. 

For this green revolution to happen worldwide, entrepreneurs and innovators, who play a fundamental role in the fight, must be supported. 

This is why Banco Santander, together with the Oxentia Foundation, launched the Santander X Environmental Challenge to launch a competition to support entrepreneurs who have developed innovative ideas to build a more sustainable future.

The key entry criteria were 

  1. a) the entrepreneurs had to hail from the countries where Banco Santander operates 
  2. b) their companies needed recurring sales of at least one product or service and annual revenue between 200,000 and 5,000,000 euros.

I was delighted to MC the awards ceremony – see pic above 😉 – which was held virtually last week.  

An initial shortlist of 20 startups were given the chance to pitch to the judging panel and last week six winners were chosen. They’ll receive mentorship, media exposure and 20,000 euros each to support their development.

The competition is a great example of Sustainable Development Goal 17 (SDG17) in action – large enterprises supporting far-sighted entrepreneurs to address key global goals like climate change.

The six winners that the bank chose are an eclectic mix of companies. Yet in listening to their pitches and hearing about their ambitions their passion for creating profit with purpose really shines through.

The six are;

CoGo – Connecting Good 

Jointly based in the UK and New Zealand Cogo – which stands for Connecting Good – has created an app that shows consumers and companies their carbon footprint in real time and comes up with suggestions on how to reduce it. Users input their bank details into the app which then calculates a personalised carbon footprint that is linked directly to spending transactions and lifestyle choices.

The app’s personalised ethical recommendation engine then offers advice in reducing carbon footprint by spending on items that have generated low emissions.


Hailing from Santander’s home country – Spain – Climatetrade is a blockchain marketplace where companies can buy carbon credits directly from mitigation project developers to offset their carbon footprint. Businesses can choose from a series of global projects and decide which way they want to offset their carbon emissions.

SCOOBIC – Urban Mobility

Another Spanish startup Scoobic is an Urban Mobility company tackling the ‘last-mile’ delivery problem. To put it crudely – all of my Amazon deliveries cause congestion, emissions and pollution. The company has created small electric-powered vehicles for delivery providers. They are greener and more nimble than vans and more versatile than motorbikes and cycles. Coming soon is the Scoobic Mouse, a delivery vehicle designed to operate in even the most narrow city streets.


Xilinat is a Mexico-based startup that sustainably transforms agricultural waste into natural sweeteners. Its core product is made from Xylitol which comes from corn cob! Xilinat buys this raw material from farming families and transforms it into a natural sweetener through an environmentally friendly process.


Plastecowood is an innovative British company that turns mixed plastics into durable, environmentally-friendly plastic lumber. It takes plastic waste, mainly from household collections and reprocesses it to produce recycled plastic lumber – planks, boards, posts and profiles, primarily for external uses. It calls this range of high endurance, long-life products Smartawood. The company claims that for every tonne of Smartawood it creates, we save 700kg of carbon from landfill.

Breeze Technologies

German company Breeze Technologies helps enterprises monitor, manage and optimise air quality inside, on streets and in factories. The company’s small-scale air quality sensors measure common pollutants like carbon and nitrogen oxide, ozone and particulate matter. The company claims its competitive price point allows for new applications like smart air quality management in office buildings or large-scale environmental sensing in urban environments.