Spending an afternoon at Movin’On Summit, the international event on sustainable mobility organized in Montreal by Michelin was very enlightening, here are a few impressions, from this first day.
Applying circular economy to mobility
This year, talking about sustainable mobility is associated with circular economy, which is quite innovative. Indeed, we usually think of recycling when we hear about circular economy, but it can be so much more than that.
Putting circularity at the core of new mobility products and services, we realize that it has to do with shifting behaviours.
For example, being circular can translate into finding solutions to commuting and therefore, working from home can be a solution to decreasing traffic jam while increasing quality of life and well-being of workers in urban areas.
Embracing climate constrains to design urban spaces
Thai architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom designs parks, gardens, green roofs and bridges that address the city’s flooding problem while also reconnecting residents to their natural environment. She has designed a stunning park in the center of Bangkok where rainwater is collected, cleaned and reduces urban heat. Considering the recent Montreal flooding, this project was truly inspiring.
Making the automotive industry greener
Did you know that there were cars working with hydrogen instead of CO2? Did you know that in Quebec, there was a 100% electrical dumpster? That Michelin is developing an air-free tire, Uptis, that was connected and 3d printed? All these innovations are happening to make the future of mobility greener and more efficient.
The solution to making mobility more circular lies in technology.
Movin’On is happening in Montreal, from 4 to 6 June 2019. More information here.
From electrical vehicles to lab-grown meat, from humanizing design to promoting circular economy, C2 Montreal is once again enchanting.
Setting its 2019 theme as Tomorrow, the 2019 edition of C2 Montreal was expected to be all about futurism but the lesson that arises from this very first day, is that tomorrow will only be possible if we start changing ourselves, the way we behave, and if we give a voice to young innovators.
Lab-grown meat anyone?
What if, instead of turning vegan, you could actually taste meat while avoiding the killing of animals? Beyond Meat has been producing plant-based meat substitutes for a decade but a 15-years old scientist explains how she wants to develop genetically modified proteins and a new generation of lab-grown meat. Isabella is part of a The Knowledge Society, an innovation programme that develops young leaders skills. She wants to disrupt food production processes through her cellular agriculture research.
Artificial intelligence is everywhere
It is a known fact that artificial intelligence was everywhere, from healthcare to transportation, from Google search to agriculture… For the general public, AI is associated to Siri, robots and sometimes machine learning (when Gmail suggests the end of your sentence). Even better, AI can be used to predict if someone is likely to contract a disease. Samarth and Ayaan, 14 and 15 years old, are working on algorithms to make diseases predictions even more accurate and better understand human biomarkers. Today, accuracy for an AI-generated diagnosis is of 90% (vs. 70% for a human).
The future is circular
Did you know that IKEA had launched a programme dedicated to circular economy? Dominique Fularski‘s mission, through Circular IKEA, is to work towards becoming the biggest circular retailer, reusing only existing material, by 2030. The giant Swedish retailer wants to work towards a better world, at its own scale. If circularity is often associated to recycling, it also has to do with refurbishing and remanufacturing. IKEA has decided to reuse, repurpose, repair and recycle, not only because it makes the company grow sustainably, but also because it is more convenient for its customers.
Stay tuned for more highlights around C2 Montreal. The 2019 edition is happening from 22 to 24 May in Montreal.
Healthy products are currently booming and food innovation is becoming more and more growth-generating. People want to be able to eat tasty, quality and healthy products and at the same time, they want to generate as little waste as possible. This is just what Mushup is aiming to do: providing a healthy coffee alternative with a beautiful but sustainable packaging.
It all begins with friendship and travels
Rachèle brought her background in business development and her passion for sales and public relations. Maeva had a previous experience in sustainable development, events management, marketing. But most importantly, both of them shared one important asset: a true friendship.
We needed new challenges, we wanted to change the way we lived… so we went on a backpack trip to Colombia to find inspiration and see if we were ready to start working together.
In November 2017, on a hike in the beautiful zona cafetera, they decided to launch a business in the coffee industry that would be socially responsible. Back to Montreal, they met with a mycologist who introduced them to the complementarity between coffee and medicinal fungus.
After months of research and development, they came up with a coffee bean that integrates the positive mental and physical impacts of these fungus. Spark, Vigor and Vital each provide a different benefit.
It was important to select the best possible coffee. All grains are hand-picked and slow-roasted.
Innovation by curiosity
Neither Rachel nor Maeva have a technical training in mycology or in science. They are not inventors but they can be innovators because they have an acute perception of the market. They understand consumers, their needs and desires for alternative products.
Some people might find it strange to add mushroom extracts to coffee beans but not our generation. Curiosity is part of our DNA.
They also know how to make the solution attractive: they have created three types of coffee, with three exclusive visuals from French designer Julien Brogard, picked through an international competition and their boxes are zero waste.
Collaboration and independence all the way
Collaboration is key to their growth. Mushup is working hand in hand with partners like graphic designers (from the Billy Club) to develop, one coffee at a time.
Starting a new business was a way for us to come back to our original life objectives. We needed to gain control over our lives so it was natural to also keep control over our business
You can buy Mushup products online or in a (growing) number of local shops. You can also taste it, among other places, at the lovely Bistro Tendresse in Montreal Village neighbourhood.
3D printing is at the core of innovation and opens the possibilities for the hardware industry. You can now print pretty much everything, from the little piece that would allow to stabilize your living room table, to a new shinbone for surgery. Two French engineers have developed a new material, made of recycled plastic, to make these more sustainable.
Today, Nefilatek’s Kickstarter campaign is almost over but the project started a year ago, as a school project. Bastien was studying at Polytechnic and was convinced that developing recycled 3D printing filaments could be realistic. He was able to win grants from Fondation Arbour and enter Universite de Montreal and Polytechnique JAB incubator.
A few months after, Angel joined the adventure with a background in Physical Engineering. After working in a biomedical lab, he wanted to find a meaningful project that allowed him to contribute to society.
Recycling makes the cost of raw material much cheaper
Thanks to research and development innovations, pretty much all plastics in the industry can be recycled: old electronics, home appliances are thrown in recycling factories and transformed into plastic pallets.
Nefilatek has been able to develop different filaments: HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) is good for the general public and for startups while PC (Polycarbonate) is more resistant and used in biomedical labs. In addition, the team builds spools that are also recycled, reusable and very light to avoid wasting empty stools.
Closing the loop of the circular economy
For now, the team at Nefilatek uses plastics from sorting centers which is not 100% clean and needs to be decontaminated but the aim is to find raw plastics and make their own mixture.
We want to be able to collect used filaments from 3D printed prototypes and objects and recycle it to develop Nefilatek filaments. Then, we would be truly closing the loop.
3D printing could be the new DIY trend
Over the past years, it is mostly known by geeks and tinkers, but 3D printing is a fun and useful hobby … and it is not that expensive! Did you know that you could buy a 3D printer for $350? And you can use it for making a missing piece of furniture, instead of buying a new one, or to make a new flower vase, deco pieces or toys for your children, or anything you want! Most models are open source so you can find them on websites such as Thingiverse.
It would be great to build a community of individual clients and democratize circular economy, show people that they can make everything by themselves.
If you’re interested in testing 3D printing and doing it in a sustainable manner with Nefilatek filaments, you can contribute to their Kickstartercampaign until 22 April 2019!
Millennials are all about making a difference in our world, consuming wisely, giving up on some habits. But it does not mean that they give up on quality. This is the mission statement of Solios Watches, a young Montreal company founded by Alex Desabrais and Sam Leroux. We met them in the confessional at Fondation Montreal’s Grand Messe on 27 March 2019.
Where it all started…
Alex and Sam met at HEC Montreal during their Bachelor of Finance. They shared a common interest in case competitions and entrepreneurship.
When graduating, they were looking for meaningful experiences. Alex joined District M, a tech startup, where he developed his sales leadership and learned how small companies were able to grow. Sam started working at Snowdon partners, an entrepreneurial investment fund, and realized that this smaller ecosystem was exactly what he was looking for.
Both of them spent 4 years in their respective companies, learning, growing and … maturing their entrepreneurship project. They then started designing their dream watch in-house and building their business plan which, two years later, launched through one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of 2018.
Choosing entrepreneurship to make a difference in the world
When you are not an engineer or a developer, when you are not a millionaire, it is more difficult to find an idea for your startup. But we knew we wanted to focus on an eco-friendly idea.
Why solar watches? The technology is already well established and recognized, and it is a way to improve a very traditional consumer item. Also, in the watch industry, the affordable luxury watches market is the only part currently growing because consumers are aware that quartz watches are not sustainable.
Rather than offering direct consumption goods, fast fashion items, we want to make a fashion and sustainable statement.
Eventually, Alex and Sam want to develop a portfolio of responsible products, with full transparency on the sourcing of materials. They work hard to create a relation of mutual trust with their suppliers and distributors and travel regularly to Hong Kong and Japan. Each component, each manufacturing process behind Solios Watches is carefully chosen to be as sustainable as possible while maintaining the quality, from the choice of packagingto the coloration of steel and the choice of bracelets.
People think that vegan leather is sustainable but in fact, it is made of plastic and petrochemicals, which is eventually polluting. Instead, we use silicon leather which is not vegan but more sustainable.
The team obviously aims at selling their products, but their goal goes beyond that sole purpose: they want to educate consumers and change behaviour patterns and common beliefs (yes, a solar watch can work in the UK where the sun does not always shine bright).
For now, the team has just received the first batch of orders from their Kickstarter campaign and started delivery in April 2019. You can order their products online.
We, humans, have never been so self-conscious about the way we eat, for better or for worse! We eat differently, we seek innovations in the products we choose, we want to be healthier, but while having fun! If you recognize yourself in the “we”, you should discover these 5 Montreal startups.
Innovation MTL discovered them during Fondation Montreal Inc. annual event, La Grand’ Messe. For this 3rd edition, 100 startups were gathered to present their newly crafted products to investors, media, influencers, and the general public.
Do you also have that colleague who decided to cut off his coffee consumption because he was experiencing chest pains, insomnia, anxiety? Perhaps he or she would be interested in Mushup coffee… quality and fair trade coffee beans, roasted in Montreal, but without all the negative effects of coffee thank to a magic ingredient: mushrooms! Not magic mushrooms, but medicinal mushrooms extracts that add healthier virtues while enhancing the taste of coffee beans. Who knew that the coffee industry still had room for innovation? Try it out, it is delicious (and the branding is gorgeous too)!
Eating is about so much more than feeding yourself or even
indulging, it is about living new experiences. If you cannot afford a trip to
an exotic destination perhaps you can at least experience that change of scene
during a handful of seconds by biting in one of Cultur’ dough cookies. You can jump
from Japan to the Mediterranean, from Mexico to the Middle East, without any
visa, directly from your taste buds to your imagination. For those who seek
something different from regular cookies, it is definitely worth it.
Choco de Lea
Chocolate is a guilty pleasure in so many ways: it is rarely
fair trade, it is a calorie bomb, it uses animal products, and often comes in
non-recyclable packaging. Léa wants to solve (almost) all these problems with
her craft chocolate bars. Using soya milk and gourmet ingredients, she
advocates a more responsible consumption of chocolate. We had the opportunity
to taste the camomile and cherry flavoured white chocolate. It was surprisingly
delicious. It is brand new, so follow her adventures on Instagram!
Haumana produces baobab natural energy bars. If you wonder what a baobab is, it is a tree that grows in Africa. People there consumes the citrusy fruit that comes from the tree after drying it and making a powder out of it. It is said to have true health benefits. Haumana is working with a cooperative of women in Senegal to produce their vegan, raw and gluten-free energy bars. The light sour taste gives it a funky twist. And don’t worry, there is an option with chocolate too, it is available here.
Blue Pearl Distillery
Last but not least, if you want to make that old gin &
tonic look rejuvenated and more exciting, while supporting a Montreal based
Pearl Distillery has created a surprising, delicious and funny product to
try. With 100% Quebecois ingredients, their Bleu Royal gin has a flowery
flavour (it is distilled with juniper berries and coriander) and a natural blue
color (apparently it comes from the butterfly pea flower) and… when you mix it
with (1642) Tonic, it becomes pink. More than an ordinary liquor, Blue Pearl
wants to offer experiences, and magical ones, preferably. You can find Bleu
Royal gin at the SAQ.
Designing, creativity and adventurousness run in the family for Antonio and Lorena. Having an industrial designer as a mother and an astrophysician as a father, the siblings have a passion for design. They are inviting Montrealers to embrace their innovative products.
Not interested by traditional paths
Lorena studied ceramic and graphic design while Antonio went for sculpture and industrial design. They both started their careers few years ago in the corporate world and in design studios. However, something was wrong – a sense of uneasiness, lack of authenticity? Antonio decided to go back to studying and chose an environmental programme in design and architecture at Universite de Montreal and Lorena quit her job. Brother and sister decided to become partners and Co/Crea Studio was born.
We did not agree 100% with what the market had to offer, we needed to create ourselves something that aligns with our vision of the world.
Their conception of design is responsible and interdisciplinary, it embraces circular economy and has a positive impact of society while remaining viable.
Going against the grain: durability vs. trends
People are either graphic designers or industrial designers but studios rarely combine the two. Blending 2D and 3D is a way to provide richer experiences and mutually benefit from each other.
Lorena and Antonio work on the ideation process together, then, the lead will depend on the type of product or service. The focus is always on offering a sustainable product or service with an extended life – which is against the processes of the industry.
Conveying messages through products
They are currently working on a series of products called the “Fundamental Series”, to promote good habits: a book-end, to leave technology aside and go back to reading books, candlesticks to give more light to our lives…
To do so, they are partnering with Mexican artisans from a small village called Tecali which is famous for its expertise in marble and onyx craft. Unlike many manufacturers that go there for cheap but quality labour, the two Montrealers want to provide artisans with fair trade opportunities and… to come back to their country of origin!
Another product, “My Montreal, our island” was created after a call for projects inviting designers to reinterpret Montreal souvenirs (that are mostly made in China as we all know…). Using Montreal’s insularity, the designers created an original mug that showcases Montreal diversity and authenticity: it is made in clay as a reminder of the sand beaches on an island, it has the island of Montreal carved in the bottom, and the name is written just like you would write with your fingers in the sand.
Of course, if you don’t know the story, you might just see it as another mug in a souvenir shop, but this is why design is so important for us – it helps conveying stories in a durable and creative manner.