The 8 finalists of the INNO Student Challenge 2022

Martin Harvey / WWF

The second edition of the INNO Student Challenge, in which WWF-NL encourages students to come up with innovative solutions for nature conservation problems, started in October 2021. Students could submit their innovative ideas, the 8 best ideas were selected by an internal jury of WWF. These 8 finalists are now working on a more comprehensive project plan and are creating a pitch to convince the judges that their project should win. The three best projects each win €10.000 and professional coaching sessions. Hereby we would like to introduce to you the 8 finalists and their projects: Biosphere Solar, AI for Wildlife, Karbon Biru, Ephora Solutions, ECOPANEL system, Decentreelise, Ecogenesis VR & Build your Greenhouse.

Biosphere Solar

The energy transition is about (em)powering our society in a way that is responsible for both today and tomorrow. Although renewable energy is much less carbon intensive than fossil fuels, many renewable energy sources still deplete scarce resources, harm the environment and/or biodiversity, and are not socially sustainable. To overcome this, we are developing a fair, open-source, and circular solar panel that can be repaired, upgraded, and recycled at high value. As Biosphere Solar, our mission is to make truly sustainable energy a reality, and so we are setting up a global community of innovators, bringing disruptive change to the solar industry, and changing the way we do ‘business as usual’.

AI for Wildlife

Together with the rangers of Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa we are building an autonomous drone with thermal cameras that can search for poachers in the wildlife reserves. We’ve worked with Strategic Protection of Threatened Species (SPOTS), an NGO active in the park, to collect enough data to build the models, created the first models and designed the hardware. They have shown that flying with drones can completely stop poaching because one can detect anyone in the perimeter. They need an autonomous drone because there is a severe lack of manpower, causing poaching to continue. We have partnered with the top 3 universities in South Africa and a multitude of AI companies and communities to help execute the project. The goal is to build a cheap drone that by being AI enabled can be used in any wildlife conservation park on the continent to prevent poaching.

Karbon Biru

Karbon Biru is a mangrove and wetlands carbon sequestration project that goes beyond conventional ‘pay to plant a tree’ model:

  1. mangrove conservation, that sequester more than 10 times carbon compared to terrestrial trees, as a biological long-term carbon capture and storage; and pragmatic, efficient carbon emission offsetting for companies and individuals;
  2. wastewater treatment and brackish pond bioremediation;
  3. economic benefit generated from mangrove to the society;
  4. wildlife and functional diversity of mangrove habitat.

The founder, Yulia Ratnasari, with Pedro Patique, Irlanda Mora, and Nasira Ahsan as circular economists under CIRCLE, Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Program concern about the disturbed biogeochemical cycle. They want to innovate on how to close the loop and induce regenerative economy via functional diversity. Karbon Biru project will first carried out in Indonesia and future expansion to Brazil, Mexico and Pakistan, and they will not stop until 10,000,000 mangroves are planted.

Ephora Solutions

Our project focuses on the creation of a never-before seen fabric product made from recycled materials. Our fabric will use jute bags sourced primarily from coffee bean imports. Our aim is to create an innovative and sustainable fabric product using the principles of the circular economy to guide procurement, production, and marketing of the product. This innovation has the potential to significantly decrease the use of virgin natural textiles such as cotton, wool and silk which are detrimental to the environment. These materials contribute to depletion of natural resources, global warming, water scarcity and pollution. Our recycled jute fabric will thus provide an alternative to current and much less sustainable textile options that are used in the fashion and interior products industries. Our product therefore contributes to creating a sustainable and circular textile industry.

Ecopanel system (logo).png


The only current function of the outside skin of buildings is separating the inside of the building from the environment outside. This is millions of square meters of surface area that is nearly functionless.
The ECOPANEL system is a modular system applicable to nearly all building facades. The system can increase building-sustainability in numerous ways (e.g. heating, water usage, biodiversity). The system consists of multiple panels each with their own function, making it completely modular. This modularity allows it to be customised to specific building needs around the globe. The hexagonal shape of the panels makes them easily tileable and allows for maximum surface usage. The ECOPANEL system integrates new panels, such as the dew harvesting panel, with already proven concepts, like solar panels, to form a synergetic whole.

With this system we give function to all building facades and help improve the sustainability of any existing building.


Leonard Holl, Lewis Jansen, Anne-Celine van Paassen and Jerrel Bolthof conceptualised "DecenTreelise:" a decentralised application that supports reforestation, carbon sequestration and nature-based investments world-wide. We envision a world where everyone can participate and benefit from nature conservation efforts. The mission is to build a platform for landowners, investors and supporters of reforestation and nature conservation efforts worldwide, by creating the opportunity for people to invest into reforestation through cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. By buying a digital plot in the form of an NFT, investors share ownership of trees that farmers plant on their property. Farmers benefit from the carbon sequestered, whereas investors benefit from the value of wood on their plot. We will test our application in our pilot project in Greece.

Ecogenesis VR

Ecogenesis VR is a transdisciplinary project initiated by Enahu Tahitu (1996, Dual master student Ecology, Marine & Terrestrial) and IDFA selected filmmaker and artist Matthijs Vuijk. Our ambition with this project is to combine and connect meaningful scientific research, in this case marine ecology, with emotionally moving storytelling. This project will serve as a proof of concept that we can make specific and abstract science on the dire state of our planet's biosphere relatable and personal, aiming to create a narrative that incites people to gain a stronger connection with our planet's natural environment. Together with sustainable business and innovation master students Jesse Brehler and Boudewijn van Lieshout, we aim to make the production of this VR experience part of a bigger project and expand our scope to capture all the world’s biodiversity hotspots, allowing us to transport current generations through space and our future generations through time.

Build your Greenhouse

'Build Your Greenhouse' - a user-friendly greenhouse to support local agriculture. I want to create a relatively cheap greenhouse that can be set up easily by anyone in a dry and degraded natural environment, to re-flourish nature. Build Your Greenhouse should serve people who live in environments that are struck by climate change and where local agriculture is troubled by desertification or other environmental hazards. We hope to stimulate the empowerment of the people, instead of imposing an external solution. Therefore, we are designing our greenhouse in such a way that it can be built independently and doesn’t require expensive professional installers. When the trees are mature and strong, the greenhouse can easily be dismounted and rebuilt by the end-users on new land in order to recover additional territory.

Finally, the build-yourself kit should be open for all kinds of markets. Every person or developing (grassroots) organization should be (financially) able to get it and regenerate nature.