Jelter, an Italian startup, invented a jellyfish-shaped buoy to clean up the seas of microplastics. The startup was created by three girls, 22 years old each, college colleagues who just graduated from Ied, Milan’s European Institute of Design.
Their startup was born from their thesis in Product Design. They are Rebecca Raho, Emanuela Tarasco, and Caterina Favella, and their startup is called Jelter. They come from Milan, Matera, and Vicenza, respectively.
“We wanted to do something against pollution and looked at the sea. We realized that there are many projects dedicated to plastic, while little felt is the issue of microplastics. In fact, it is a far-reaching emergency that puts the health of the environment and humans at risk,” Caterina said.
Read more about the smart buoys that were built to clean up the seas of microplastics, and find the most important financial news of the day with the Born2Invest mobile app.
The smart buoy at work
Microplastic fragments range in size from 0.33 to 5 mm and can cause devastating consequences for entire ecosystems. They are dangerous to animals and humans. For 9 months, the girls were supervised at the university by experts and mentors and were able to realize the idea and create the prototype.
“We created an autonomous, self-sufficient, and sustainable buoy, powered by solar panels, which thanks to a filter and a pump sucks up water and with a certified net collects microplastics. The design of the buoy is inspired by the jellyfish, which is a living thing indicator of clean seas.” In fact, the name Jelter comes from the union of jellyfish and filter (jellyfish + filter). With the prototype done, the founders aim to create a community and make people protagonists.
“The buoys can be adopted through an App and thanks to an interactive map you know their location and the amount of microplastics filtered out. This will also be our business model. People who want to rent a buoy pay a monthly or annual subscription. Our challenge is to bring people closer to the marine ecosystem in a creative and innovative way, aiming for a sustainable future. The system has a sensor built into the buoy that allows those who have adopted it to track progress and share it within their community.”
To self-fund the buoy, the founders chose to participate in awards and calls for proposals
They participated in the Francesco Morelli Foundation award for students who graduated in the year and are waiting to hear the results. As part of COP28, the United Nations climate change conference scheduled to take place in the coming days, the three girls have joined the Prototypes for Humanity 2023 call, targeting recent graduates from all universities for innovative social impact solutions or projects.
“Based on the results we will figure out what to do in the future and how to continue in the creation of our enterprise,” she said. “When I started university, I never imagined that I would be able to do something so concrete and real. And I am grateful to my institution for pushing us to create such a project. We learned so much: from idea to enterprise.”
“We understood how to manage a team, how to create a business model, and how to make a prototype. Between us, we divided the tasks: Rebecca was the CEO, Emanuela took care of the prototype, and I took care of all the finance parts. Doing business and at the same time doing something useful for the Planet is the best experience we could have had,” Caterina concluded.
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First published in StartupItalia. A third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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