Image: Calluna Denkers
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Last Easter weekend, just under 23,000 people gathered at the NDSM grounds on Saturday and Sunday to kick off the festival season. Those arriving at peak time stood in line for over an hour to enter the festival grounds in Amsterdam Noord, and rain and wind threw a spanner in the works of the promised sunny Easter season.

But that doesn’t let (most) visitors ruin their mood. Besides dozens of DJs, exclusively vegetarian eateries, and a unique stage for the Stedelijk Museum, entrepreneurs testing their innovations are also on the program. They are part of Innofest’s Green & Inclusive Forward project. This organization supports entrepreneurs working on innovative solutions by allowing them to test their innovative prototypes in practice. The philosophy of Innofest? Festival venues act as mini-societies that are excellent for testing innovations. The organization works exclusively with start-ups that contribute to a better society; we visited three.

1. Peepal by Semilla Sanitation

The gender-neutral urinal Peepal collects urine, which is later converted to agricultural raw material and plant food. At DGTL, they mainly want to know if visitors use the urinal and if the toilet is comfortable enough.

The yellow containers look simple, but the high-tech toilets are equipped with quite a few technological conveniences. For example, the system can filter and clean wastewater to be used again as drinking water, plant food, or raw agricultural material. Founder Peter Scheer won’t tell you how exactly the company does that. “Eventually, we want to collect pure urine at all festivals and events to turn it into clean water and fertilizer.”

Is the toilet already easily accessible to women? “It’s still a little wobbly, and the space is not that big,” said a festival attendee just emerging from one of the bright yellow cubicles. “But I’m willing to put up with that. Peeing for charity should be a little less comfortable.”

2. TinTrooper from TechTics

In the fight against the 150 million cans that end up on the streets every year, TechTics developed the TinTrooper. A self-driving robot that approaches people and collects cans. Through a QR code, people quickly get their deposit back. “The prototype can store a hundred cans. We aim for a version that can store up to five hundred cans.” During DGTL, the TinTrooper will compete with regular trash cans to explore how to encourage people to recycle their cans.

Rather, TechTics co-founder Edwin Bos would have stood at the pound where festival-goers enter Amsterdam Noord, but the City of Amsterdam did not give permission for that. “Here on the festival grounds, there are plenty of opportunities to return your cans. Especially on public grounds, our innovation can change something.”

3. Soulmate

The first innovation we would like to tell you more about is Soulmate, a mobile and accessible relaxation cabin. Its creator, Ruben Bruggeling, wants to ensure that all festival-goers can go to a festival with peace of mind and always have the opportunity to take a moment for themselves to unwind. “We believe being inclusive means giving every festival-goer a chance to retreat from all the external stimuli into a quieter and more personal space,” Bruggeling said.

Bruggeling knows from his own experience how nice it is to escape the hustle and bustle of a big festival occasionally. At DGTL, the creators test how visitors experience the cabin and whether it improves their festival experience. “A festival is an excellent environment to test our innovation because it attracts a wide variety of people of all ages and backgrounds. DGTL and Innofest are helping us refine the design aspects of the booth by providing useful feedback on their experiences.”