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Three Latin American Startups Win Rethink Plastics Challenge by MIT Solve and IDB Group

Atando Cabos, a Chilean startup, won this challenge aimed at reducing plastic waste and single-use plastics and received US$30,000 to scale its solution. Algramo (Chile) and Eco Panplas (Brazil) were finalists.

The Rethink Plastics Challenge, powered by MIT Solve and the IDB Group awarded 3 Latin American startups with US $60,000 in cash prizes to scale up their solutions. IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno and Natura Co-Chair and Brazilian entrepreneur Guilherme Leal discussed sustainability leadership in the public and private sectors in the Challenge’s closing ceremony.

“Natura first started to reduce the impact of its packaging back in 1983, which was the refill of shampoo and other plastic bottles. It aimed at reducing the use of plastic, which at that time was totally innovative. There is a huge opportunity to incorporate innovative solutions for social and environmental needs. Big companies, with such representative numbers, need to connect with other players to develop not only technical solutions, but also help to change the culture and consumer’s behavior”, said Mr. Leal.

Startup Atando Cabos (Chile), led by Francisco Cruz, won first place, receiving US$30,000 and the chance to have a pilot implemented by the IDB Group. Algramo (Chile), led by Brian Bauer, was awarded second place and a prize of US$20,000. Eco Panplas, a Brazilian company led by Felipe Cardoso received third place and US$10,000. These solutions seek to reduce the disposal of single-use plastics and plastic waste in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Plastics have proven to be one of the world’s most important industrial innovations, and it is ubiquitous in our daily lives. However, plastics have also had immense adverse impacts on human and environmental health. We are proud to support this new generation of entrepreneurs that are helping advance Latin America’s path to sustainability,” said Juliano Seabra, Chief of the IDB Innovation and Creativity Division.

Prior to the closing ceremony, the Challenge’s 9 finalists participated in a closed-door pitch competition. ALLGA (Chile), Atando Cabos (Chile), Algramo (Chile), Arqlite (Argentina), Ecoins (Costa Rica) Eco panplas (Brazil), Mayco (Colombia), Micrastic (Mexico) and Precious Plastic (Netherlands) presented their solutions to the majority-women panel, comprised of IDB managers, public and private sector leaders, and academics from 12 nationalities. Among them were Antonia Gawel (World Economic Forum), Ariana Gomez (VISA), Christian del Valle (Athelia Funds), Edison Terra (Braskem), Daniel Mitchell (Acoplásticos), Rafael Fernández Quiros (The Coca Cola Company), Jenna Jambeck (University of Georgia) Léa Gejer (Flock), Keyvan Macedo (Natura), Michel DeGraff (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Silvana Lopez (the Blockchain Challenge), Manuela Zoninsein (Palantir Technologies), Tá Corrales Sanchez (MIT D-Lab),Paloma Roldan Ruiz (Ciudad Saludable), and Paula Pedro (Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab).

Since the closing ceremony was postponed from March to September due to the Covid-19 pandemic,  for the past six months finalists were invited to mentorship sessions with Rethink Plastics partner organizations, such as Ambev, Natura, Pepsico, Coca-Cola, and the Blockchain Challenge. These sessions provided connections with the sustainability offices of these corporations and advice on a wide array of topics such as scaling business models, building connections with the private and public sectors, and the basics of intellectual property.

“The Rethink Plastics Challenge was an invaluable experience that goes beyond the monetary prize we received. The Challenge was a powerful platform where finalists were able to showcase our solutions to top-tier players in Latin America’s sustainability field,” said Francisco Cruz, leader of winning startup Atando Cabos.

You can watch the award ceremony here.

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social, and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.

About MIT Solve

Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to solve world challenges. Solve is a marketplace for social impact innovation. Through open innovation Challenges, Solve finds incredible tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world. Solve then brings together MIT’s innovation ecosystem and a community of Members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to help them drive lasting, transformational impact.

External Contacts

Agustín Cáceres

Agustín Cáceres
Additional Contacts

Seabra Santiago Oliveira Silva,Juliano

Manager, KIC
Seabra Santiago Oliveira Silva,Juliano
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