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Search for sustainable start-ups: Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield awards upcycling start-up Airpaq as the winner of the Westfield Grand Prix for the Germany and Austria region

A select expert jury including industry leaders and members of the Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) management team chose Airpaq, which creates upcycled products such as backpacks and bags from car parts, as the big winner of the Westfield Grand Prix 2023. The Community’s Choice Award was presented to CleanlyEco, which produces sustainable washing strips. The awards evening took place at the shopping and leisure destination Westfield Centro in Oberhausen.

Airpaq was able to prevail over the other seven finalists in the grand final on September 26 at Westfield Centro. The expert jury consisted of Alvaro Gellings, serial entrepreneur and investor, Heidemarie Kriz, architect and designer, Florian Michajlezko, entrepreneur, as well as the representatives of URW, Andreas Hohlmann, Managing Director Austria & Germany, Paul Douay, Director of Operations Austria & Germany, Constantin Wiesmann, Director of Leasing Austria & Germany, and Marijana Prtija, Head of Westfield Rise Austria & Germany. The jury voted Airpaq as the winner of the Westfield Grand Prix and particularly highlighted its unconditional focus on sustainability and resource conservation, its clear business model and its great scaling opportunities. Airpaq, founded by Adrian Goosses and Michael Widmann, pursues the mission of offering durable and high-quality upcycled products made from car parts at a fair price. The entire value creation process is geared towards sustainability. Customers receive a durable product, the sewers are paid fairly and the company helps to protect valuable resources of the planet.

The winner of the Community’s Choice Award was chosen from a total of eight finalists by interested parties and fans of the competition. The start-up CleanlyEco won the award. CleanlyEco has set itself the goal of making washing more sustainable. The company uses biodegradable ingredients, avoids aggressive chemicals and reduces packaging waste and transport emissions.

CleanlyEco///Credit: URW

Prior to the announcement of the winners, the finalists presented their concepts to the expert jury and around 80 invited guests from local business, politics and retail in Oberhausen at the exclusive awards evening. The award evening was moderated by Verena Fink, AI expert and innovation scout.

Andreas Hohlmann, Managing Director Austria & Germany, says: „Innovative, young concepts are essential for the attractiveness of our retail and lifestyle destinations. Only in this way can we offer our visitors more variety and always new experiences. Sustainable offers, whether in ecological or social terms, have played an increasingly important role, especially in recent years. The Westfield Grand Prix is an excellent platform to cooperate with sustainable start-ups and young companies and offers them a stage. With Airpaq, we have found an outstanding winner who has convinced the entire jury and is pursuing a sustainable and responsible business model in an exemplary manner. We also congratulate CleanlyEco, the winner of the Community’s Choice Award, as well as all the start-ups that took part and wish them continued success – especially Airpaq with their future store unit in one of our Westfield destinations.“

Adrian Goosses, Co-Founder Airpaq, says: „Being on stage with such innovative start-ups was a win in itself. This win reinforces our commitment to creating something new from something old. With the support of the Westfield Grand Prix, we will take our sustainable backpacks made from scrap cars even further into the world. We are very excited!“

Westfield Grand Prix – Background to the competition

URW announced the international expansion of the Westfield Grand Prix – including into the region of Germany and Austria – in spring this year. The competition was launched in France in 2007 with the aim in mind of finding the most promising and innovative retail concepts. Since 2023, the search has focused specifically on start-ups that have a clear sustainability focus in their business model.

In each region, the winning start-ups of the Westfield Grand Prix will be selected by a jury of experts, and, as part of the Community’s Choice Award, another winning company will be chosen by the public through online voting. The jury award includes a free lease of up to one year in a Westfield centre in the region, tailored support, e.g. with shopfitting and store concept, from URW experts and a special advertising plan developed by the in-house retail media agency Westfield Rise. The package has a total value of around 280,000 euros. In addition, the start-up will have the opportunity to participate in the European final of the Westfield Grand Prix at the end of October. The winner in the Community’s Choice will receive a major platform and showcasing opportunity at the Westfield Good Festival, URW’s sustainability festival, in a Westfield destination from the region in 2024.

The competition was open to sustainable start-ups in the areas of retail, leisure, hospitality, entertainment, health as well as wellbeing and services whose solutions enable more responsible consumption and sustainable living.

Credit: URW

Finalists of the Westfield Grand Prix 2023 in Germany and Austria:

Airpaq: In Germany, approximately 501,658 tonnes of car scrap are produced every year. From this, the company creates sustainable, upcycled products that conserve resources and reduce waste. Airpaq: “Thank scrap, the journey continues!”

balmyou: The company specialises in the simplicity and purity of cosmetics. On Mission #ZeroWaste, they have succeeded in producing 80% of their products completely plastic-free. They follow the motto: protect your skin. protect your planet.

CleanlyEco: Washing strips instead of washing powder – the new way to wash. The award-winning, vegan and hypoallergenic universal detergent in water-soluble biodegradable strips is the sustainable practical and space-saving washing solution for every household.

Geniale Sandale: Geniale Sandale (genius sandal) is a 3mm sole held securely and comfortably on the foot with a simple lacing system. There is puncture-resistant recycled rubber at the bottom and organic or vegan leather at the top. Biomechanically identical to walking barefoot! *Geniale Sandale was unable to attend the final at Westfield Centro at short notice.

MOOT: The name MOOT – “Made Out of Trash” is the agenda and symbolic for the radical approach to produce new clothes exclusively from supposed trash. MOOT produces sustainable mainstream fashion from 100% used textiles


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