This year ECOSTAR launched the second edition of our e-learning course “Ecosystem services entrepreneurship: from ideas to business”. More than 50 participants from all around the world highlighted examples of innovation in the sector, thus creating an interesting debate!

forest ecosystem services

What is an ecosystem service and what is innovation?

Read the first part of our case studies article to understand what an ecosystem service is and what we mean by innovation in this sector. In the first part you can also find some very interesting Italian case studies!


Sheep in Park by Steven L.
The customers: Private Investors (mainly the PHILIPS Company. Stakeholders: Citizens of Turnhout (Belgium). Social and environmental impact: 3ha of grassland on the 20ha site of Philips Lighting and Open Manufacturing Campus in Turnhout will be transformed into a nature reserve. What does it do: The green space acts as a natural corridor for biodiversity. Site management intervention is restricted due to the use of animals (sheep) to keep overgrowth down. The complete transformation into a fully-fledged nature area takes about 3 years.
Find out more
M90 by Francesca D.

The customers: Municipality of Sao Paolo and private investors are paying for the vertical gardens around the city;
Stakeholders: Citizens of Sao Paolo (Brazil), municipal institutions, tourists;
Social and environmental impact: since 2015, M90 has created 10 vertical gardens across the city, using 62.5 tonnes of recycled waste and reducing the amount of CO2 in Sao Paulo air by 16 tonnes. Innovation: M90, founded by Guil Blanche, is a studio entirely dedicated to landscape architecture with a social and environmental impact business model. Their specific aim is to increase green areas in large cities through the installation of vertical gardens using recycling waste;
What does it do: the fundamental goal is to reduce CO2 emissions in big cities of Latin America.

Find out more

Nucleario by Camila M. V.

The Brazilian team of entrepreneurs has won the 2018 Ray of Hope Prize for the Nucleário, an all-in-one reforestation solution that mimics elements of natural forest progression to reduce maintenance costs and improve seedling survival rates.
Find out more

Pop-up Project by Julia K.

The project is “Pop-up” and it designed by Danish company “Third nature” located in Copenhagen. They create and manage a few interdisplinary projects at the junction of urbanization and nature.
It’s an innovative project that helps to create a solution to major cities’ challenges with flooding, parking and lack of green spaces. By stacking water reservoir, parking facility and urban space, the project Pop-up solves three challenges at once. As heavy rain falls, stormwater fills the underground reservoir and the parking structure will pop up in the cityscape, highlighting the adaptation to the forces of nature.
Find out more

The Energy Budget scheme by Veronika K.

The Energy Budget scheme is a means to deliver absolute reduction of energy use at the EU level, progressively reducing each year, guaranteeing every citizen access to the same fair share and involving all business and public entities. The accompanying tools would make this economically and socially feasible, while ensuring that the competitiveness of the European economy ultimately benefits.
Find out more

Forest Resilience Bond by Blue Forest Conservation by Claudio P.

In this case, I see two main types of innovation: on the one hand, there is the use of an existing financial instrument (bond) to finance forest restoration activities. The second type of innovation, which is more interesting, relates to the financial structure of the bond (see figure below): it aggregates different public actors that are interested in the outcomes of the forest restoration projects but cannot implement these projects directly and uses the financial instruments to mobilise private capital to cover the projects costs. This structure is called “pay-for-success” or “pay for outcomes” to underline the fact that public authorities are repaying the private investors only if the forest are actually restored (ex-post). I think this bond could represent an important innovation to scale up PES schemes and increase their efficiency.

Find out more

Global Bamboo Products Limited by Robert A.N.

The company simply cultivates and processes bamboos and other non-timber forest products to serve as substitutes for timber products.

Find out more

Bamwoo by Sara S.

I will talk about BAMWOO, a private company that was born in the Canggu region of Bali, by Matt Clark, his founder. The aim of this company is to transform the Bamboo plant into toothbrushes, that as we all know, most of them are not recyclable at all. In this way they want to reduce the amount of plastic that we consume everyday and find a new, easy and nice way to actually consume less plastic, so they decided to start producing and selling these alternative bamboo toothbrushes

Find out more

VESI Environmental by Conor N.

I have chosen to talk about VESI Environmental and their works in Integrated Constructed Wetlands (ICW). This is a wetland that is artificially constructed using an unlined basin (though local soil based liners are being used also) with local materials and native seeds, and acts as a natural filter for farm waste, industrial waste and human waste and transforms the area into a scenic location which attracts many native wildlife species.

Find out

Biosand filter system by Veronica M.

The real interesting and innovative thing is how the company organized the distribution in order to simplify the access to water. They did this by using easy-to-find materials and creating a helpful local market involving local people that are both the main suppliers and stakeholders. it should be considered also that the cost for the service is very low (one filter costs more or less 300 Kenya shilling, it means less than three euros) and the healthy benefits have always proved to be very relevant.
Find out more

Seedballs Kenya by Riccardo G.

Seedballs is an innovative initiative, undertaken in Kenya, which tries to tackle the problems of deforestation, forest and land degradation. The idea essentially involves a plan of reforestation through the spreading of “seedballs”. A seedball is literally a seed (tree seed), contained within an outer layer, a crust, made of charcoal with some nutrious binders. The biochar coating of the ball helps protect the seed within from predators such as birds, rodents and insects and extremes of temperature until the rains arrive. Once soaked, in fact, the seedball will help retain and prolong a moist environment around the seed to encourage germination.
Find out more

Sand Engine in Delft by Mattia L.

I will talk about the Sand Engine in Delft. It is an innovative approach to support and enhance climate change adaptation in coastal areas. This new Nature Based Solution aims to improve risk management and resilience, thus by ensuring the sustainable development of coastal regions.
Before its implementation, the solution was to annually dispose 12 million cubic metres of sand along the coast. On the contrary, the Sand Engine is created by depositing in once 20 million cubic metres of sand to create an artificial peninsula. Waves and wind will constantly spread the sand over time so that it will be naturally distributed along the coast. Compared to the previous approach, the Sand Engine minimizes human activity over time and acts in synergy with nature. In 20 years, the peninsula is expected to disappear by being naturally integrated with the existing environment.

Find out more

The forest maker by Motaz A.

I would like to share with you the story of “”the forest maker”” as he called nowadays, Tony Rinaudo. He is working for world vision Austrailia. He moved to Niger in 1981. He intended to develop the people’s life using his agriculture background. All of a sudden, he found himself in a poor land that has been hit by drought. In addition to lack of trees and pure air. He decided to plant trees with the help of the local people.

One day, in the barren, dry Sahel while planting the trees, he discovered a bunch of stumps growing a small tree. At that moment he realized the forest already existed “under the soil surface”. Thus, he came up with the approach of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). With the help of the local people, Rinaudo started the management of the trees that grow naturally by choosing the trees that have the chance of surviving. By pruning the indigenous trees, after six months the stump turns into a full tree depending on their own root systems.

Find out more

Camp Naturplac Na Skali by Viktória A.

The innovation I would like to briefly summarize firstly, is the idea of “glamping”, which has become a widespread service offered in Slovenia. Glamping is a combination of glamorous and camping, thus offers an “all in one” way of recreation. Glamping offers a place to be far away from the crowded touristic spots, embracing nature with the possibility of having all the comforts. In my opinion, this is why this concept is innovative and even though it is not entirely new, the idea creatively converts the old service provisions and embeds current trends and consumer needs.

Find out more

Comexi Company by David M.C.

The innovation I want to show is their new printer – a newly-designed printer that eliminates the solvents on their inks-, and at the same time, it saves up to a 40% of the electrical energy utilisation and increases the capacity of production and is more economical by using cheaper parts for the process.

Find out more


BiosUrn by Alessia G.

I am going to write about an interesting business idea linked to the funeral services, developed by the Spanish Estudi Moliné design company: the production of an eco-friendly urn, 100% made of biodegradable materials, created to host, not only the ashes, but also the seed, for a new tree. The idea is to turn death into “new life” through the tree, contributing at the same time to counterbalancing the human production of CO2.

Find out more

Honey Road by David Arzu G.

The innovation is a unique honey hospitality tourism sector in Northeastern Turkey that provides compelling economic and educational opportunities for women, their families, and small-scale honey producers.
The customers are whoever wants to see the honey production areas and taste the honey.

The experiment of the Honey Road reveals the great potential and demand for agri-tourism in Turkey. Recognizing the region as a home of boutique honey production, supporting, and mentoring local women beekeepers and entrepreneurs so that they receive proper training, supplies, and credits, and help with promotion and marketing.

Holistic Land Management & Perennial Farming by Patrick C.

The Innovation: Holistic Land Management & Perennial Farming (Multi-story/biodiverse farming)

This innovation is based on a very old concept of farming, basically it’s how everybody farmed all over the world (and many still do) prior to the Industrial Age.

The farming situation in the United States today is one of every increasing size of commodity crop farms managed with lots of fossil fuel and inputs like chemical fertilizers by massive corporations. Using the annual commodity cropping methods of high inputs (fossil fuels, fertilizers, tilling, etc.), the only way to be remotely profitable in farming is to increase your size ever more to gain economies of scale.

Find out more:


InVEST software by Nicolas D.K.

In order to manage landscapes in accordance to climate change scenarios. Crop pollination models are an appropriate example because future climate scenarios can affect pollinator dependent crop production, potentially having a significant impact on food security worldwide, predominantly when insects contribute to 75% of the major global food crop production (Rader et al., 2013). Modelling fisheries is also possible through InVEST, a productive system that currently suffers from climate change (Ninawe et al.,  2017); additionally marine fish aquaculture, offshore wind energy, hydropower production, wave energy, carbon storage and sequestration and a myriad of other models can be generated through this software, whilst incorporating habitat quality as an alternative output  (Mckenzie et al., 2012).

APV-RESOLA by Alessandra S.
The APV-RESOLA is an innovation group that is giving a significant blow to the photovoltaic energy field, creating a new system to combine it with agriculture, as the name APV, Agrar Photovoltaik (in english agriculture photovoltaic) already evokes.
Find out more


Ecological Footprint Calculator + SULAPAC by Chiara R.
This tool is an online platform that processes lifestyle information, e.g. eating habits, energy consumption, etc., and returns the personal impact on the planet, allowing you to know your Earth Overshoot Day. After that, you can make a donation to make up for your ecological footprint. There is no target ecosystem service but donations will be used to finance further research on depleted natural goods.
Find out more


4ocean Bracelet by Caterina P.
In 2017 the ‘4Ocean’ project was started by two surfers and it is spreading all over the world. The basic idea was to create something with the huge amount of plastic founded in the oceans in order to fund the desired cleanup efforts. So the 4ocean Bracelet was born.
Find out more


Advanced Material ‘s paint by Giada G.
I will talk about an innovative product that aims to enhance the provision of clean air especially in cities, indoor places or even street tunnels where the spaces to plant trees and create green areas can be limited. It is a wall paint produced by the Advanced material srl. This paint is VOC (Volatile organic compounds) free and mainly composed of mineral elements.
Find out more


ECOSIA Search engine by
I want to talk to you about Ecosia, a search engine I recently discovered and which I think is a clever innovative business idea. Ecosia is a social business based in Germany, founded in association with Bing, Yahoo and the WWF. Ecosia, despite being a for-profit company, guarantees that 80% of its revenues are destined for WWF in projects to protect the tropical forest. It compensates the CO2 emitted by the web servers.
Find out more


*ECOSTAR is an Impact Hub that promotes the start-up and acceleration of new business initiatives with a positive impact on environment and society.

And it is also a Research-Business alliance that links universities and companies, providing networking and market-oriented training. Find out more