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Light challenge 2021 winner uses Algae for light

20 april 2022

One year ago, meeting in a large movie theater, students did not realise why they had already had to start out so early with their ideas. Wasn’t the prototype to be done in over a year? Last Thursday, after a long year of growth, the finals of the Light Challenge 2021 happened in Floriade Almere. An elaborate event with an amazing winner team of students who use algea to create light. Part of winning means they get to show their concepts at the European Space Week 2022 that is happening on NL Space Campus end of September. Read about the finals and the amazing winners of 2021. 

The final of the Light Challenge was the culmination of a lengthy programme, which started a year earlier. The programme included a number of master classes by big names. For example, architect Winy Maas and artist Daan Roosegaarden shared their vision with the students. The corona measures did not make it easy for the teams. It was not always possible to get together and when they could, many other things had to be caught up as well. As a result, not all teams were able to fully develop their concept, but given the circumstances, the jury turned a blind eye. “In the past year students really started to believe in their ideas and it was noticeable how they grew and changed during the year of working on their light concepts”, says Linda Vermaat from Innofest, the organisation that guided the students in developing their concepts. “The way to success working in a startup is never from A to B. You make mistakes, but by moving you actually get somewhere.”


Visit the prototypes at Floriade Expo 2022

All teams gave a presentation of their idea to those present, but perhaps more important was that they were able to place their prototype on lot 123 of the Floriade. The prototypes can be admired there in the coming months. The theme of the Light Challenge, Glowing Nature, fits in well with the theme of the Floriade, Growing Green Cities. Something that Floriade director Hans Bakker could not resist. In a short speech, he kicked off the evening program of the finals. 


Alderman Hedwich Rinkes of the municipality of Heerenveen, the organiser of the design competition together with the municipality of Almere, also climbed onto the stage. She has always been amazingly inspired by former editions and even the general lighting policy has really changed in Heerenveen. In the municipality they don’t have the time and resources to think outside the box. Students do. Thinking about lighting without cables or even units that are cheaper by themselves. “It really has brought us growth in our policy and many new ideas and inspiration”, she elaborates. She also made an appeal to other municipalities and companies in the Netherlands. It was the last time that the municipality of Heerenveen took care of the organization. Rinkes therefore sincerely hopes that another municipality will take up the gauntlet, whether or not in cooperation with education and the business community.


“Innofest has offered a new way of coaching which has led to real results. Actually, everyone is a winner but there are only 3 prizes”, says Rudi Slager who, together with Elin Petrici and Carlien Timmermans, was the jury of the Light Challenge 2021. Elkin Petrici said: “I wonder what you will do with all this creativity? To end up as a word processor would be a shame. Hope that there is a future of light in the students who are now sincerely interested in it.” Carlien Timmermans: “It is amazing to see how projects grow and ideas arise. Other teams are listening, getting stimulated, we need to keep going with this. For people who may also want to be a light designer, because we really need you!”


Winner of the Light Challenge 2021

Team Noordoostpolder's concept, the Lighthouse, is a bioreactor with luminescent cyanobacteria and received first prize. "Street furniture can grow algae at night by reversing the day/night cycle. It makes the best use of 'residual' light and provides illumination for sight. The light also activates photosynthesis, which algae can then use. Different colors of light have different effects on animals. By adapting it in this way, algae can be grown in an urban environment, taking into account the whole ecosystem," said the winning team.


According to the jury, the concept thus best fulfilled the criteria of the competition, which this edition had Glowing Nature as its theme. Moreover, according to jury chairman Rudi Slager, the project has potential to grow further: “This plan is good for biodiversity, much land is needed for food production. This technique is still very much in development and so it has the potential to grow, hence the first prize”. The team’s future plans? “We want to engineer everything and make algae sexy!”


Second winner Amsterdam

Second prize was won by the team from Amsterdam. Reasons were that they actually went for participation with residents from the neighbourhood, use the term people make the city and decided upon sustainable systems to use. A positive plan with using wind energy in a positive context. 


Third winner Almere

Third up was Almere. Their designs were stunning, with a experiential quality. It is almost directly executable, using a lot of recycled materials and they want to keep using them in future plans. Also during the day the concept provided something to the environment. The team would like to talk to the municipality of Almere next, to actually implement the idea. 


Part of the prizes they received, next to a starting budget, bulb wodka and an actual lantern post, NL Space Campus and ESA ESTEC is offering them a place to pitch and show their ideas and concepts in a next phase, happening at the European Space Week in September. Keep an eye on our eventpage to find out more!



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