IFAT Munich once again presents itself as a launch pad for innovative start-ups in the environmental technology sector. Between May 13 and 17, 2024, they will be presenting themselves to international experts in the Start-up Area, on the Green Stage and during special guided tours.

“While start-up activity has cooled down in other sectors of the economy, the start-up scene in the environmental technology industry remains highly dynamic,” says Stefan Rummel. The Managing Director of Messe München attributes this mainly to the long-term, existential importance of the topics being addressed. “Solving global environmental problems – such as climate change and its consequences, polluted seas and water shortages or growing mountains of waste and dwindling natural resources – is one of the major challenges facing humanity and offers virtually unlimited scope for innovative ideas and new business models,” Rummel is certain.

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Start-up area for international start-ups

Consequently, young companies will once again be given a broad forum at IFAT Munich 2024. The world’s leading trade fair for environmental technology will once again feature a Start-up Area in Hall C4 between May 13 and 17 of this year. Around 50 up-and-coming companies from over 15 countries will be presenting themselves in the separate exhibition area. These include the Norwegian company Renasys, for example, which aims to revolutionize wastewater treatment with a new type of mechanical filtration. “Our process offers unprecedented high flow rates for filtration levels from 40 to 5 microns,” explains Christopher Sveen, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Renasys, and continues: “Not only do we achieve outstanding efficiency in particle removal, but we are also pioneering the recovery of resources, for example organic matter from municipal wastewater or minerals from mining.” His aim is to forge further long-term partnerships at IFAT Munich to jointly tackle some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

IFAT Munich 2024 also marks the market entry of Solar Materials. The Magdeburg-based start-up has set itself the task of completely recycling solar modules with its patented technology. “Not only glass, aluminum and copper are recovered, as has been customary in the industry to date, but also the critical raw material silicon and the precious metal silver,” explains co-founder Dr. Jan-Philipp Mai. According to him, this added value reduces recycling fees for customers such as solar park operators and module manufacturers. The company currently has an annual recycling capacity of up to 150,000 modules, which is set to be expanded to 500,000 modules by 2025.

Meanwhile, becoming the “world’s most efficient and trustworthy marketplace for secondary metals” is the plan of Metycle, a young company founded in Cologne in 2022. The digital platform enables sellers and buyers to trade in all types of metals and mixed metals. Metycle manages the entire trade chain so that scrap dealers and metal collectors do not have to contact recycling companies and smelters themselves. The respective parties to the transaction can track the supply chain online in real time.

Daily guided tours to selected start-ups

In addition to visiting the exhibitors in the Start-up Area “on their own”, trade visitors to IFAT Munich 2024 can also join guided tours. On the afternoons from Monday to Thursday, selected companies in the special area are visited under expert guidance.

Four lecture blocks on the Green Stage

As an additional information and networking offer, the start-up area will also include an activity area called “Green Stage” for exhibitor presentations, presentations by associations and partner institutions as well as science-oriented discussion rounds. On the mornings of the first four days of the trade fair, the program includes two-hour lecture and discussion blocks on topics of particular relevance to the start-up scene. Using the example of automated dismantling, the end of the linear economy and the opportunities of industrial collaboration will be highlighted, while current approaches for an optimized circular economy will be presented and discussed based on the construction sector. Other focal points are the technical implementation options from the bioeconomy and cooperation between start-ups and the public sector.

More start-ups on the rest of the exhibition grounds

“With the Start-up Area, we are making it easier for young companies to access the market and offering a ‘consolidation area for the start-up scene’, but of course there are also many other exciting newcomers among the other exhibitors in our 18 halls and the outdoor area,” emphasizes Philipp Eisenmann, Exhibition Director of IFAT Munich.

WeSort.AI will be there for the first time and directly as the main exhibitor in Hall B5, Stand 124. Founded in 2021, the Würzburg-based company has developed from a promising idea into a respected player in the recycling industry in just two and a half years. Specializing in the granular analysis and sorting of waste objects using artificial intelligence (AI) and object recognition, WeSort.AI is revolutionizing waste management. “With our solution, we are opening up new fractions and achieving previously unattained purities,” explains co-founder Nathanael Laier and continues: “A highlight of our technology, the ‘BatterySort’ product, makes a significant contribution to fire prevention in sorting plants. We will also be presenting this on the Green Stage at IFAT Munich.” The technology is already being used successfully by various recyclers in Germany, and further AI analysis and sorting machines will be installed in 2024.

The example of Greyparrot shows what outstanding developments former young companies can make. The British company presented its innovative system, which uses AI and machine learning to optimize the waste sorting process, at the last IFAT Munich in 2022 – back then as part of the Start-up Area. Greyparrot will be back in Munich again this year, but this time as a “regular” exhibitor in Hall B4, Stand 137. “Over the past two years, we have made massive progress in many areas – from the expansion of our waste recognition library to more than 70 categories, to the installation of over 100 Greyparrot analyzers in 14 countries, to our recently announced strategic partnership with Bollegraaf, the world’s largest manufacturer of recycling equipment,” reports Mikela Druckman. And Greyparrot’s CEO is looking further ahead: “Progress in tackling the global waste and resource crisis can only be made if we work together. We are therefore once again looking forward to IFAT Munich to find out how our system can support the international key players in the recycling sector even more extensively.”

Cover photo: IFAT