On February 16th, the startups took to the stage with their pitches to wow our panel and potential investors, all in the hopes of nabbing one of the three cash prizes. Before diving into the startup's innovations, we have exciting news for all aspiring entrepreneurs out there: the applications for the next Startup Booster program, starting in May 2024, are now open! If you're sitting on an idea for a sustainable or tech business that addresses urban challenges, click here to find out more and apply.

“[AMS Startup Booster] was a really helpful program that has allowed us to get so much further. It helped us to get out of our comfort zone and connect with a lot of people that have elevated our startup.”


The three winning pitches from L-R: Noord See Lights, Nauti, Nativenergy

Hosted at AMS Institute on the Marrineterrain, startups beppie, Cleancycle, JOYN, Nativenergy, Nauti, Noord See Lights and SwappSport took to the (proverbial) stage and captivated the audience with their innovative business pitches. The curious crowd watched on, consisting of private companies and public organizations, city officials, AMS Institute staff, researchers, and students.

The startups were spotlighted one by one, delivering their pitch and responding to sharp and insightful questions from the jury. The panel was intent on understanding the business models' market potential, competitive advantages and ambitions. Now, let's delve into the startups and their visions:

NAUTI. (First place winner!)

It's all about water for the winning startup Nauti. While plastic waste is often top of mind when it comes to water pollution, Nauti highlights other highly polluting sources: maritime and the agricultural industry, for example. A lot of Dutch water is — to put it plainly — dirty. Nauti seeks to clean water from biological contaminants so that everyone can access a healthy water ecosystem. By leveraging IoT (Internet of Things) and water probes, Johannes Trebes and Rawan Khater have created a bio-remediating device that cleans water bodies by breaking down pollutants into non-toxic substances. A future step? Creating an autonomous water-cleaning vehicle.

“We are actively engaging with stakeholders in the maritime industry, municipalities, and government to test our hardware, creating a pathway for economically feasible water cleanups.”


Nativenergy (Second place winner!)

How clean is clean energy? What does a 21st-century energy system look like? Questions such as these spurred Nativenergy founder Kartik Kamath in his quest to create hybrid solar and wind energy generation systems. The systems are designed to deliver on all the energy needs of a single building as they're located right on the roof! This won't only alleviate an increasingly overwhelmed energy grid but also has the potential to make buildings off-grid —thereby strengthening urban energy independence one building at a time.

“Nativenergy is now working on prototyping and testing a scaled-down model to prove the concept. The next steps include building and testing a scaled-up prototype that incorporates learnings from the initial experiments.”


Noord See Lights (Third-place winner!)

Noord See Lights hopes to empower customers to create their own sustainable and circular 3D-printed lighting solutions. Founders Juliëtte Mohamed and Mick Simmering note that for a truly circular economy, the manufacture and use of often overlooked items needs to change. Lighting is one of them — about 40% of all lamps are not recycled. Noord See Lights are not only biobased, but can be designed by the consumers themselves.

“Our goal is to redefine the standard by providing an alternative to the mass-produced items that occupy our spaces without satisfying our desire for uniqueness and personal expression.”

Noord See Lights


When beppie founders Joran van der Sluis and Mark Zwart visited a healthcare facility, they were moved by the frustrations of older people they spoke to: namely, loneliness. They noticed that many struggled with using phones and computers, which made them feel even more isolated. Joran and Mark delivered a concept to bridge the gap between generations in a digital world — transforming digital (WhatsApp) messages into heartfelt postcards. A simple yet powerful idea.

“We developed a machine that allows the elderly to communicate in their own way.”



New EU laws will require companies to report on the CO2 released by their employees' commutes. This prompted Irina Damascan, Ana-Maria Petre, and George Lucian Tataru: how could an app allow companies to report on this information while also encouraging sustainable employee behavior? Enter JOYN, a sustainable mobility intelligence that leverages everyday behavior to drive a mindset shift around how employees can contribute to corporate sustainability goals.

“By addressing the problem of the companies first, we support them in making the reporting an actual instrument of decision making for better employee benefits and ultimately more engaged commuters to make better choices.”



Making sports more accessible and affordable is the name of the game for Founder Said Azarfane. SwappSport offers sports equipment on subscription with a minimal rental duration of one month. Members can choose the subscription that fits their sporting needs, switching it up if need be. The platform aims to help consumers who want to engage in a range of different sports — from fitness to padel — but don't want to commit to buying all of the equipment. SwappSport hopes to not only provide quality goods on a rental basis but also to ensure that they're handled in a circular manner when it comes to maintenance and disposal.

“[With the AMS Startup Booster program] I hoped to validate my business idea and discuss concepts. I also wanted to grow my network to raise the budget to pilot my startup eventually.”



'A personal vendetta against litter' spurred founder Stef Traa to launch his startup. Cleancycle seeks to make consumer recycling easier and more fun: a helpful idea as in the Netherlands only 59% of waste is recycled. Cleancycle incentivizes consumers to recycle (better) by paying them for their recyclable waste (think old textiles, plastics, and e-waste). In turn, Cleancycle sells the cleaner waste stream to recycling companies. The startup is in an exciting phase: building a consumer app and gearing up to launch their first pop-up location in Amsterdam West later this Spring.

“Our team is motivated to improve a faulty system . We are driven by the belief that our work with Cleancycle can help protect the environment, reduce waste, and contribute to a more sustainable future for generations to come.”

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