© Brightlands
Author profile picture

Dysmus Kisilu, Panos Kouris, and Daan Welling reached the finals of the Marc Cornelissen Brightlands Award with their sustainability projects Solar Freeze, Goldilocks, and Young Climate Movement. During the official award ceremony on 20 January 2021, the winner of the third edition, in which 25 sustainability pioneers from all over the world participated, will be announced. An amount of 35,000 euros is attached to this prize.

During the semi-finals in Venlo, the candidates presented their sustainability projects to the independent jury largely through a video connection. “Because of COVID-19, the event took place without an audience”, a jury representative says. “Nonetheless, the candidates presented themselves without exception in an equally inspiring and passionate way as the adventurer and polar explorer Marc Cornelissen once did.”

Until his death in 2015, Marc Cornelissen fought with guts and perseverance, but just as much by showing leadership and seeking connections for a sustainable earth. In this respect, too, the candidates follow his example.

Marc Cornelissen was a pioneer in the Netherlands in the field of sustainability and climate protection. The extremely charismatic and passionate polar explorer died in 2015 at the age of 46 when he conducted research into ice thicknesses and snow profiles in Canada. It was one of the many trips Cornelissen made to draw attention to the major climate problems.

Solar Freeze

From Kenya, Dysmus Kisilu presented his project Solar Freeze, which consists of portable cooling units based on solar energy. This is needed to avoid unnecessary loss of products with a limited shelf life. The units are equipped with sensors, which ensure a constant indoor temperature of -20 °C. Local farmers can borrow or rent the units, increasing their income by up to 150%. At the same time, the units prevent malnutrition.


Replacing petroleum oil with organic oil will bring about a global green revolution. That is the plan of the TU/e spin-off Vertoro with the Goldilocks platform. Panos Kouris from Greece is physically present at the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo for his pitch. He explains that lignin – a substance found in all plants and trees – can bring about that turnaround. Organic oil can be used for the production of sustainable plastic window frames, as a raw material for the chemical industry, and as a substitute for polluting marine oil.

The Young Climate Movement

Within this originally Dutch movement, the voices of several youth organizations and more than a hundred thousand young people come together. Daan Welling points, among other things, to the Young Climate Agenda. With this agenda as its starting point, the Young Climate Movement invests in campaigns and holds discussions with policymakers, politicians, and the business community. The overarching goal: to let the voices of young people influence the approach to the climate issue and thereby contribute to a CO₂-free world.

Previous winners

The prize was awarded for the first time in 2017 to Martine Bouman, founder of the Centre for Media and Health in Gouda. The second edition of the prize was awarded in 2018 to Bart Knols for his work on the development of a cheap trapping system that can eradicate malaria mosquitoes sustainably and without insecticides.

Brightlands is an open innovation community in Limburg where more than 24,000 innovative entrepreneurs, talented researchers and promising students work every day on international breakthroughs in the field of sustainability, health and digitization. This happens on four campuses in Venlo, Geleen, Heerlen and Maastricht.