What great ideas!

Find out here how people hit on ideas like fixing CO2 in building materials and helping young people via WhatsApp.

Allison Dring and Daniel Schwaag clean the air.
Allison Dring and Daniel Schwaag clean the air. Duo Chen

Made of air: building materials made of plant-based waste

Several years ago, architect Allison Dring and materials specialist Daniel Schwaag from Berlin developed façade elements that can filter environmental pollution out of the air. However, there was a small catch to this good idea: the elements were made of plastic. In their search for a sustainable material, they have now come across biochar. Normally, when plants rot they release the CO2 bound within them into the atmosphere. But if you char plants in a controlled way, you can fix the carbon that is bound within them. They are now manufacturing façade panels from biochar obtained in this way – and also generating energy in the process.

Crisis Chat: contact persons for young people

Kai Lanz, Julius de Gruyter and Jan Wilhelm help people with their app.
Kai Lanz, Julius de Gruyter and Jan Wilhelm help people with their app. privat

The three Berlin high-school graduates Kai Lanz, Julius de Gruyter and Jan Wilhelm are already experienced founders. Back in their school days, they launched an anti-bullying app called 'Exclamo'. But because the problems of young people have intensified during the pandemic, in 2020 they founded a help line called Crisis Chat (Krisenchat.de). Via WhatsApp, young people can turn to the emergency chat service with their problems and get immediate advice from specially trained contact persons. The inhibition threshold is low, the service is available every day around the clock, and the project is a great success. "We want to become as well known as the emergency number 110," says Kai Lanz.

Attention: Krisenchat.de is looking for german-speaking volunteers, especially from abroad. Anyone with a background in psychology, social work or counselling who is interested in helping children and young adults can send a message to https://exclamo.typeform.com/to/N5Susi.    

Monitorfish: animal welfare through artificial intelligence

Animal welfare and nutrition – the Monitorfish app combines both.
Animal welfare and nutrition – the Monitorfish app combines both. Fraunhofer IGD

A team led by CEO Chaitanya Dhumaskerg is the newly crowned winner of the 2020 European Innovation Award (EIT Award). The jurors were impressed by the diagnostic system for monitoring aquacultures developed by the Berlin startup. By contrast to traditional diagnostics by a veterinarian, the system uses artificial intelligence to detect stress or diseases in the fish very early on. The cloud-based software analyses water quality, fish movements, growth and behaviour patterns in real time. This improves animal welfare and increases yields.

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