How would you better the world with a million dollars?

After two months of searching for sustainability solutions and a showdown between six finalists, the finale of The Liveability Challenge 2018 culminated in a proposal for biodegradable straws winning nearly a million dollars.

The Liveability Challenge 2018 Finale from Eco-Business on Vimeo.

If you had a million dollars to save the world, what would you do? 

This was the question posed by the first-ever edition of The Liveability Challenge, a global competition searching for innovative solutions to help tropical, urban cities such as Singapore remain sustainable and liveable in the face of global challenges.

Asia is a hotspot of development and the rapid growth of urban populations is causing pollution, habitat loss and an overload of waste. Cooling and waste management are two particularly pertinent issues. The rate at which cities generate trash outstrips their ability to manage it responsibly, leading to landfills piling up and plastic waste threatening marine life.

Cooling is another unprecedented issue. Growing affluence coupled with warmer weather is driving the purchase of air conditioning units. While many relish the benefits air-conditioning provides in the sweltering heat of Asia’s tropical cities, its large electricity demand spurs the burning of fossil fuels, exacerbating climate change.

To tackle these issues, new and innovative solutions need to be developed and implemented quickly, and this is where The Liveability Challenge comes in. Presented by Temasek Foundation Ecosperity and organised by Eco-Business, the competition—which takes inspiration from American reality television show Shark Tank where budding entrepreneurs try to convince judges to invest in their ideas—held its finale in July earlier this year. 

Six finalists, shortlisted from over 200 applicants from 34 countries, had the opportunity to pitch their solutions to five sharp-tongued judges, including well-known venture capitalist Vinnie Lauria from Golden Gate Ventures and entrepreneur and philanthropist Elim Chew. 

Emerging victorious to secure $980,000 in funding was Singapore firm RWDC Industries with its pitch to produce biodegradable drinking straws, in a bid to reduce and eventually replace single-use plastics.

The straws, manufactured using a certified biodegradable polymer, can decompose under natural conditions into water and carbon dioxide. Straws currently sold can decompose only under specific conditions.

Watch the finale of The Liveability Challenge 2018 here, and keep an eye out on this space for the return of The Liveability Challenge 2019. 

Did you find this article useful? Help us keep our journalism free to read.

We have a team of journalists dedicated to providing independent, well-researched stories from around the region on the topics that matter to you. Consider supporting our brand of purposeful journalism with a donation and keep Eco-Business free for all to read. Thank you.

Most popular

More from The Liveability Challenge

Liveability Challenge_Fairventures
Fairventures, an agroforestry management system, was awarded top prize in the annual search for solutions to the toughest sustainability challenges of our time.
NEU Battery Materials founders Kenneth Palmer and Bryan Oh
Lithium shortages are straining supply chains for electric vehicle batteries. Entrepreneur Bryan Oh, co-founder of a low-waste, low-emissions lithium recycling firm, wants to be the world's largest lithium company without ever owning a mine.
The Liveability Challenge 2022 edition
From cultivated meat to carbon measurement, sustainability innovation competition The Liveability Challenge 2022 attracted more than 400 applications from more than 60 countries. This year's finalists are from Asia and Europe.
SeaChange, the winners of the 2021 The Liveability Challenge
US-based SeaChange has triumphed ahead of five other finalists in the annual search for solutions to make Asia's cities more sustainable.
leaf background pattern

Transforming Innovation for Sustainability Join the Ecosystem →

Strategic Organisations

Reneum
Danfoss
Trucost
ESG Book
Olam
City Developments Ltd