Project B-fresh, winner of the Generator Zero Competition
Belgrade, 18.03.2022 – Project B-fresh, that solves the problem of rapid spoilage of fruits and vegetables, is the winner of the Generator Zero entrepreneurial competition of OTP banka Srbija, dedicated to supporting and rewarding the best solution for reducing the carbon footprint, as one of the biggest challenges of today. A total of 72 solutions applied for this year’s competition, while 10 of them entered the finals. The winning team won two million dinars, as well as the support of OTP banka in further project realization and promotion.
Driven by the fact that a third of food produced globally ends up as waste, which affects CO2 emission, the domestic startup B-fresh Technologies has developed a product that extends the life of fruits and vegetables, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of that waste.
The B-fresh spray is an innovative, environmentally friendly solution that emulsifies the interior of existing packaging, such as plastic, cardboard, paper boxes or wooden crates. As a leading creditor of the corporate and retail sector and a market leader in factoring, leasing and e-commerce services, OTP banka has been working for years on promoting and supporting innovation and domestic entrepreneurship, and the Generator Zero is one of the most important projects in this field.
“The Generator is a competition that has been growing from year to year. It is the result of our thematically monitoring market trends and needs. In this way, thanks to its constant relevance, we manage to present a large number of promising and innovative projects every year. Climate change and global warming are probably the greatest challenge for humanity in the 21st century. As difficult as it is to predict what awaits us in the years to come, one thing is certain: every contribution matters. In other words, each and every one of us should take responsibility and do everything we can to fight for a sustainable future. That is why, we at OTP banka, are strategically focused on the green transition with the objective to not only improve our operations in the direction of environmental sustainability, but to also motivate all our clients to do the same. One of our most important activities on this path is the Generator Zero project, which we have dedicated this year to the topic of reducing the carbon footprint, as one of the key causes of global warming. In this way, we want to motivate and encourage innovators to offer us new and creative solutions and thus engage in a common fight for a better future”, said Predrag Mihajlović, President of the Executive Board at OTP banka Srbija.
The number and quality of applications evidence the importance of this topic, while the jury had a real challenge to select the best project from the 10 that entered the finals.
“I would like to congratulate the winning solution B-fresh. To choose the best project was not an easy task at all. All finalists were really great, so participating in this demanding and extremely uncertain process of choosing the winner was a real pleasure and a great experience. I would like to thank all participants for the innovation and creativity they presented. We are glad that the topic proved to be so inspiring, which gives all of us at OTP banka an extra tailwind to continue with activities that contribute to an environmentally sustainable future. We will provide large support to the winning solution in the upcoming period, working together on its development and promotion. We believe that this will contribute to inspiring new creative projects in future editions of the Generator”, said Vuk Kosovac, member of the Executive Board at OTP banka Srbija for Retail Banking and president of the jury for selecting the winner.
Zorica Branković, representative of startup B-fresh Technologies, this year’s winner of the Generator Zero competition, thanked OTP banka for the award and won first place and congratulated on the excellent organization and finals of the competition. “We are very honoured for winning the first place and main prize at this prestigious competition. Participating in the competition was a fantastic experience that allowed us to meet great teams with whom we plan more intensive cooperation. We would also like to thank the members of the professional jury, top experts in the field of business, for recognizing the importance and potential of our product”, Branković said.
How does the B-fresh spray work? The inside of the packaging is sprayed and an insoluble and transparent layer is formed while drying, thanks to which the shelf life of food is extended. The emulsion is based on biopolymers, i.e. natural materials, chitosan and gelatine, and all its components are on the so-called GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) list, which means that they are safe for human use and have no negative impact on the environment. The presence of this protective layer does not affect the look of the packaging.
The Bank supported this year’s finalists by presenting them on its communication channels, and the winner, in addition to winning a cash prize, will also receive long-term advisory support, as well as presentation of the solution in OTP Lab Innovation Hub of the parent OTP Group and in the Portfolion Investment Fund.
The project partners, members of which comprised the professional jury, also awarded the finalists, namely:
Mastercard awarded the solution “Od tradicije do zelenije budućnosti” (engl. From tradition to a greener future) of the Bifrost Bioplastic team with EUR 5,000, while the SRBIJA INOVIRA (engl. SERBIA INNOVATES) project will provide this startup with access to funding and its consulting support.
Schneider Electric donated computer equipment to the Buttsy NFT team for their solution, while Robert Bosch presented a prize of 200,000 dinars for project “Samoodrživi staklenik sa komposterom” (engl. Self-sustainable greenhouse with composter) to company Bit inženjering.
ICT Hub dedicated three months of co-working space, the opportunity to present itself to the ICT HUB Venture Fund, consultations and networking with partners from the FMCG industry to startup Eat Me App for their solution bearing the same name, while Netokracija will provide valuable media support to this project.
The initiative DIGITALNA SRBIJA (DIGITAL SERBIA) awarded the project “Cloud city” coming from startup Smart City Technologies with mentoring and access to business angels, and the Belgrade Open School (BOŠ) donated valuable mentoring and support to the Association for Supporting Persons with Developmental Disabilities “Naša kuća” (Our House) for the project of handmade paper and packaging.
About the Generator
The Generator is a multi-year project of OTP banka intended for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, startup companies, startup informal teams and entrepreneurs wishing to contribute to the reduction of carbon footprint with their ideas and projects, one of the biggest challenges of today. The project has been running since 2017 and has so far supported innovative entrepreneurial ideas, students with entrepreneurial innovation, helped small and medium-sized enterprises to digitally transform and rewarded those entrepreneurs who helped micro, small and medium-sized enterprises overcome the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
About OTP banka Srbija
OTP banka is the largest creditor of the corporate and retail sector and a market leader in factoring, leasing and e-commerce services. It is focused on innovation and digitalization of its operations, which provides customers with new benefits with a focus on enhancing digital banking and user experience. One of the key strategic directions is the green transition, i.e. commitment to sustainable business and environmental projects. Thanks to the presence of OTP banka in 91 cities with 184 branches, clients across Serbia have access to a wide range of products and services, as well as efficient service and offers tailored to their specific needs, while the network of almost 300 ATMs is the largest in our country.