We believe that chemistry plays a critical role in developing a sustainable future. Chemists have a special responsibility to develop those new products, resources and processes to make that happen. The Elsevier Foundation-ISC3 Green & Sustainable Chemistry Challenge seeks to stimulate innovative chemistry research that helps the environment and low-resource communities in emerging and developing countries.

The 2020 winners of the Scientific track of the challenge have now been announced!

Our winners


From natural biopesticide in Malaysia to ecorestoration in Nigeria, from natural preservatives in Nepal to butterfly attractant in India and wastewater treatments in Jordan.

Meet the Green & Sustainable Chemistry Challenge winners and read their stories.


The winners will be announced at the 2020 Green & Sustainable Chemistry Conference in Germany. The Challenge is articulated in two tracks:

Please note: participants will be able to submit either to the Scientific Prizes or the Entrepreneurial Prize. 

The Elsevier Foundation-ISC3 Green & Sustainable Chemistry Challenge is jointly run by the Elsevier Foundation, Elsevier’s chemistry journals team and ISC3. The Challenge is open to individuals and non-profit organizations whose projects use green and sustainable chemistry solutions to tackle some of the developing world’s greatest sustainability challenges whether in water, sanitation or energy. Read more about Elsevier and green chemistry.

The 2020 challenge is now closed.

1. How do I submit my proposal?

You can submit your proposal on the Elsevier Foundation-ISC3 Green & Sustainable Chemistry Challenge platform at this link: https://efcc2020.skild.com/ Please note: the deadline is September 15, 2019.

2. What are the Challenge’s process and deadlines? 

The Elsevier Foundation-ISC3 Green & Sustainable Chemistry Challenge is articulated in two phases. 

Phase 1this is the general submission phase. Proposals can be submitted from July 1st to September 15th. 

Reviewing phase: out of all submitted proposals, a number of eligible proposals will be selected for the second phase. Specifically, 50 proposals for the Scientific prizes and 7 proposals for the Entrepreneurial prize. These will be asked to submit additional information in their respective groups (Scientific or Entrepreneurial prizes). 

Phase 2: those selected after the reviewing phase will have one month to submit a full proposal. Proposals can be submitted from October 16th to November 17th. 

Judging phase: the scientific jury will evaluate the proposals and identify the finalists. Top 5 finalists will be selected to compete for the Scientific Prizes, and another Top 3 for the Entrepreneurial prize – and will be invited to present their proposal at the 2020 Green & Sustainable Chemistry Conference in Germany. 

For a successful proposal it is essential to familiarize yourself with the Challenge’s criteria.

3. What are the prizes of the Green & Sustainable Chemistry Challenge?  

The Elsevier Foundation-ISC3 Green Sustainable Chemistry Challenge awards 3 prizes. Two of them are Scientific prizes: one prize of €50,000 and one prize of €25,000. The Entrepreneurial prize is €25,000.  

4. How are the prizes different? 

The Scientific Prizes award projects that use green and sustainable chemistry solutions to tackle some of the developing world’s greatest sustainability challenges – encouraging researchers to come up with new solutions.

The Entrepreneurial Prize highlights entrepreneurs with promising innovations and evaluates them in terms of market potential, business models, technological innovation and impact. You can find additional information about the Entrepreneurial prize on the ISC3 website. 

The application process for the Entrepreneurial Prize (the 3rd prize) does not differ from the application process for the Scientific Prizes (the 1st and 2nd prize). All applications must be submitted via the same dedicated platform. However, it is important to be aware that a proposal can be submitted only for the Entrepreneurial award OR the Scientific awards. The same application cannot be considered simultaneously for the two different tracks 

All 3 prizes will be awarded during the 2020 Green & Sustainable Chemistry Conference in Germany. 

5. When will I know the results of my application?  

The list of the top 50 proposals for the Scientific prizes and top 20 proposals for the Entrepreneurial prize that will move to the Phase 2 of the Challenge will be published on October 15, 2019 on the Elsevier Foundation website. 

The list with the shortlisted candidates (Top 5 for the Scientific Prizes and Top 3 for the Entrepreneurial prize) will be published in January 2020. The finalists will be invited to present their project at the 2020 Green & Sustainable Chemistry Conferencewhere the winners of the 3 prizes will be announced. 

6. Can I get feedback on my proposal?  

Unfortunately, due to the high number of applicants, it is not possible to offer individual feedback. 

7. Is it possible to get a certificate to prove that my proposal was selected for the top 50 (Scientific prizes) or top 20 (Entrepreneurial prize)?  

Yes, it is possible. Requests for certificates should be made at chemistry.challenge@elsevier.com 

8. Who is ISC3 and why have you partnered for the Challenge? 

ISC3 – the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre – promotes and develops Sustainable Chemistry solutions worldwide. Collaboration across sectors and actors is the key principal of this independent institution. ISC3 provides a platform where all players from policy, civil society, industry and academia can come together to exchange and develop new innovative solutions for the most pressing problems of our time. 

The partnership with the ISC3 complements Elsevier’s existing network, going beyond our strong academic focus to include industry and policymakers in the green and sustainable chemistry ecosystem.  

ISC3 joins the Green & Sustainable Chemistry Challenge by contributing the 3rd Entrepreneurial prize. You can read more about the collaboration in this press release. 

9. I have questions about the application platform: what support is available?  

We are using the Skild Knowledgebase platform for handling the application proposals.  You can find all platform-related FAQs here. 

10. Who can I contact if I have additional question?

For any question or clarification, you can reach us at chemistry.challenge@elsevier.com.

Before submitting your proposal, make sure to read the criteria with which the proposals will be evaluated.

Read the 2020 criteria for both the Scientific track and the Entrepreneurial track.

Scientific Prizes – Judging Panel

Prof. Dr. Borhane Mahjoub
University of Sousse, Tunisia

Prof. Dr. Borhane Mahjoub (1973) received his MSc and PhD in Waste Sciences and Technologies (1999) from the National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) of Lyon (France). Then, he went to the Polytechnic High School of Montréal (Canada) for a post-doctoral research study in 1999-2000. Read more

Prof. Dr. Klaus Kümmerer
Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Germany

Prof. Dr. Klaus Kümmerer is Professor of Sustainable Chemistry and Material Resources at the Leuphana University Lüneburg and director of the Research and Education Hub of the International Collaborative Center for Sustainable Chemistry (ISC3). His interest is in designing benign chemicals to address the quest of micro pollutants in the aquatic environment, usage and protection of material resources, environmental chemistry and water chemistry, ecology of time, and the development of interdisciplinary study courses and programs of  sustainable chemistry. He is also founding editor and editor-in-chief of the scientific journals “Sustainable Chemistry and Pharmacy“ and „Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry“. Read more

Prof. Dr. Regina Palkovits
Aachen University, Germany

Regina Palkovits is Full Professor for Heterogeneous Catalysis and Chemical Technology at RWTH Aachen University. Research in her group focuses on the development of novel solid catalysts for the efficient utilization of fossil and renewable resources and on process design for the transformation of biomass into value-added chemicals and biofuels. Read more

Prof. Audrey Moores
McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Prof. Dr. Audrey Moores is a leading expert in the field of catalysis using metal, metal oxide and biomass-based nanomaterials, with a special emphasis on sustainable processes and use of earth abundant starting materials. Her research was recently highlighted in Nature in 2016, and she was selected as an emerging leader in 2017 by the RSC journal Green Chemistry. Read more

 Dr. Sam Adu-Kumi
Environmental Protection Agency
Accra, Ghana

Sam Adu-Kumi has a diverse research interests in the areas of: environmental fate, human exposure and health risk assessment of POPs and Heavy Metals (Mercury, Lead, and Cadmium) in Ghana, particularly in monitoring, sampling, analysis and risk characterisation of human health risks. Read more.

Dr. Helmut Krist
GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit)
Bonn, Germany

Dr. Helmut Krist is an environmental engineer. He worked since 1975 with the German technical cooperation in various countries in Northern Africa, South East Asia and the head quarter in Germany in the field of water resources management and environmental protection.

Entrepreneurial Prize – Judging Panel

Dr. Claudio Cinquemani
Bonn, Germany

Dr. rer nat. Claudio Cinquemani is Director for Science and Innovation at the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3) where he analyses and fosters innovative ideas and works on strategies for sustainable chemical solutions. He studied Environmental Engineering in Germany, Spain and New Zealand and additionally holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry. Academic research in biochemistry and green solvents led him to a position in industry, where he optimized polymer use for technical applications. His interest has always been in developing green and sustainable processes for industrial applications.

Dr. Carol Lin
City University of Hong Kong

Dr. Carol Lin is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Energy and Environment at the City University of Hong Kong.  Her research group aims at valorising organic waste materials through bioconversion processes to recover their inherent nutrients for transformation into value-added products. Waste-based biorefinery not only provides a means for waste treatment, but also promotes the development of a circular economy with special focus on the development of integrated biorefinery strategies to valorise food and textile wastes.

Dr. Joel A. Tickner

University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell)

Joel Tickner is a Professor at the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences and a pioneer in making chemistry safer for people and the environment. His research focuses on the development of innovative scientific methods and policies to implement and accelerate the design and application of safer products and manufacturing processes. Tickner is an internationally respected expert on environmental health, green chemistry, chemicals policy, and pollution prevention and the founder of the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3), a powerful network of more than 120 companies, bringing together the entire value chain from chemical producers to major brands and retailers.