The Dopper Changemaker Challenge Finalists!


Last weekend has been marked in fluorescent yellow for weeks, circled multiple times. We’ve been anxiously waiting for those two days since… Well, since we first came up the idea 6 months ago. “What idea?”, you might ask. The Dopper Changemaker Challenge of course! On the 15th and 16th of June the finals were held. But not just in Amsterdam. No. That would have been to easy. This pollution problem is worldwide and so was this year’s Changemaker Challenge. Simultaneously, finals were being held in Berlin, London and Kathmandu. Out of the 20 semi-finalists (per location), 10 winners of research grants were chosen. Because, yes, being named ‘changemaker’ is a prize in itself. But we couldn’t let these students go home empty handed, could we?


As hard as it’s to believe, we understand that not everyone has been so invested in this challenge as we were (and are!). So, how about a quick introduction of the Dopper Changemaker Challenge? Here it goes.


Thesis award with a goal

We all know the recipe for plastic soup. Just add over 9 billion kilos of plastic to the ocean every year. Stir a little. Done! More plastic than fish by 2050. We don’t like those numbers. With the Dopper Changemaker Challenge we started our own thesis award to accelerate the development of solutions that have a big impact on the plastic and water issues we’re currently facing. Because life in plastic? Definitely not fantastic.


We believe that we need the next generation of changemakers to change the world for the better. It’s all in a name, right? This is the generation that knows what’s happening and chooses not to look away. A bunch of superheroes, they are!


Now you know what we’re all about, let’s get right into the challenge!


Showered with innovative ideas

Our waterful weekend started out on the 15th of June with 20 very nervous semi-finalists (per location). Ready to pitch their kick-ass ideas to a ruthless jury. This jury was burdened with a heavy (not literally) task. Participants were assessed on impact, innovation, presentation and feasibility. Which research position was so watertight that it could sail into the top 10? We won’t keep you waiting any longer! It’s time to reveal the results!


Reducing plastic waste in Amsterdam, the Netherlands


Our 10 Dutch and Belgian finalists had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to the jury and commuters while crossing the river in Amsterdam on a GVB (Municipal Transport Company) ferry.



The jury (consisting of: Virginia Yanquilevich – Dopper CEO; Ev Liu – Sustainable Entrepreneur and founder of Straw by Straw; Camille van Gestel – Founder of Waka Waka; Reinier Lambers – WWF Senior Advisor; Marco de Graaff – Marine Biologist and Water Engineer; Bert van Son – Founder of MUD Jeans; and Justin Pariag – Head of sustainable Business at De Bijenkorf) decided on the following winners:



First place, to take home €5000,- in prize money, to get featured in the media, to be invited on stage and to get useful network introductions was… Drumroll please…


Roos Kolkman, 1st place

Roos develops education packages for teachers – whether they teach Biology or Economics – to educate and inspire their students on one of our biggest challenges yet – plastic pollution. Awareness and change regarding plastic use is needed, especially in this target group. Her packages are easy to implement in the existing planning. Global education will inspire change and empower future changemakers. What’s not to love?

Hannah van der Kerkhof, 2nd place

Hannah researches chemical additives and microplastics leach into the (marine) environment when plastic litter is disposed in nature. Her research is conducted with beach plastic collected at the west coast of India (Goa and Mumbai).


Annerieke Bouwman, 3rd place

In Annerieke’s study, the potential role of the seabed as a sink for microplastics in the Mississippi River Delta (MRD) was studied. She obtained microplastics by performing a density separation, treated with Fenton’s reagent, and finally analyzed by light microscopy and Raman Spectroscopy.
And of course our other finalists, in random order:


Colin Deblonde
Daphne Persoon
Lennert van Rompaey
Lotte Jonkergouw
Nikki Groote Schaarsberg
Samantha G. R. Jenkins
Shaakira Jassat



Saving our oceans in London, the UK


Our 10 UK finalists had the opportunity to pitch their ideas at Cody Dock, a creative hub on the Lower Lea River, where they not only impressed the jury but also all Londoners who where in the area.



The jury (consisting of: Merijn Everaarts – Founder of Dopper; Andrew Hughes – Photographer and Artist; Maria Coronado Robles – Senior Consultant in Natural Resources at Euromonitor International; Jamie Rowles – Investment Processes Lead and Portfolio Manager at Sky Ocean Ventures; Debra Guo – Environmental Sustainability Manager at Stella McCartney; and Lizzie Carr – Activist, author and adventurer) decided on the following winners:


First place, to take home £5000,- in prize money, to get featured in the media, to be invited on stage and to get useful network introductions was… Drumroll please…


Marcus Rodin, 1st place

The objective of Marcus’ project is to convert kelp into a usable product, may that be for packaging, building, or other suitable applications. As one of the fastest growing organisms on the planet, kelp can be farmed to achieve carbon sequestration and converted into an extrudable bioplastic, locking the carbon inside the material.


Mia Wreford, 2nd place

The phenomena and management of abandoned, lost, or other discarded fishing gear, otherwise known as ‘ghost fishing’ is a considerable concern for marine health and the global economy. Mia is researching the potential to valorise and recycle this material sustainably through an innovative process of thermal cracking.


Sarah Kakadellis, 3rd place

Sarah’s research project will address the sustainability of conventional and biodegradable plastics in the field of food packaging. Since the use of plastic is a contentious issue, but the prevention of food waste it can contribute is often overlooked.


Our other finalists, in random order:


Alexander Kumi-Larbi Jr
Haamid Iqbal, Nikhil Ramaraj, Olga Milevska and Sara Thanyaset
Hannah Guest
Michail Dzigajev
Mohamed Kamal
Ondrej Ludvik
Uma Dassaye, Chitra Yadav and Arihant Jain



Getting inspired in Berlin, Germany


Our 10 German finalists had the opportunity to pitch their ideas on the Panther Ray, a raft on the banks of the Landwehrkanal in Berlin, where they not only impressed the jury, but also other people who were around at the time.



The jury (consisting of: Alexander Nolte – Entrepreneur & Co-founder of Langbrett; Niels Heijman – Dopper R&D; Julia Propp – Senior Consultant at Phineo AG; Ulrich Petschow – Senior Researcher; and Harriet von Froreich – Concept & Communications at CRCLR Hub for Circular Economy) decided on the following winners:

First place, to take home €5000,- in prize money, to get featured in the media, to be invited on stage and to get useful network introductions was… Drumroll please…


Carla Maria Scagnetti, 1st place

Carla is a true changemaker! With her research project, she combines classic life cycle analysis with the analysis of marine litter in order to enable consumers to make choices based on a wider concept of the sustainable footprint of a product’s packaging. With her help we’ll be able to finally answer the question: what’s better for the planet, a cucumber with or without shrink wrapping?


Stefan Gerbes, 2nd place

Stefan created Project Waterfilter. His aim? To provide safe and clean drinking water to the communities in Tanzania by producing and selling organic water filters.


Malu Lücking, 3rd place

Malu is exploring how to turn algae into yarn for various textile goods, thus balancing the ecosystem of lakes and at the same time producing sustainable textiles.


Our other finalists, in random order:


Carina Käller
Agnes Isabel Hoffmann
Charlotte Stadtbäumer
Lukas Novaes
Jonas Vargas
Jannik Lutz
Anna Volc



Fighting water pollution in Kathmandu, Nepal


Our 10 Nepalese finalists had the opportunity to pitch their ideas at the site of an ancient water source between the temples in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Where they not only impressed our judges but also the rest of the passerby.



The jury (consisting of: Lenny Houwaart – Marketing Manager Dopper; Shilshila Acharya – CEO of Himalayan Climate Initiative; Suman Shakya – Managing Director of SmartPaani; Roshan Man Bajracharya – Professor at Kathmandu University; Anil Chitrakar – Entrepreneur, Engineer, Motivational Speaker and Co-founder of HCI; and Roos Spekman – Project Manager at Dopper) decided on the following winners:


First place, to take home NRS 200.000,- in prize money, to get featured in the media, to be invited on stage and to get useful network introductions was… Drumroll please…


Anisha Maharjan, 1st place

Anisha’s project aims to reduce water wastage due to the inability of soil. She is creating a model to solve the urban flood problem of Kathmandu valley. This project will ease the lives of people affected by urban floods every year tremendously!


Amrita Sigdel, 2nd place

Amrita’s research work is concerned with the development of Starch Based Biodegradable Plastic that helps to eliminate the synthetic plastic from the earth.


Aashraf Pradhananga, Gaurab Dhungana and Sandesh Rajbhandari, 3rd place

These guys aim to produce nanocellulose from bamboo to find a possible replacement for single-use plastic.

Our other finalists, in random order:


Amrit Regmi and Rajendra Joshi
Bigyan Subedi
Suraj Shrestha
Kanchan Pathak
Shreeja Lopchan and Milan Samal
Aman K.C., Ashih Chalise, Deepak Parajuli, Nabin Dhital, Suman Shrestha and Tejendra Kandel
Sudati Shreshta, Sachin Shrestha and Tejaswi Kunwar