The two winners of the More Lithium, Less Huella contest are seen in the image

Results of the “More Lithium, Less Footprint” Contest

SQM’s “More Lithium, Less Footprint” Competition Comes to a Close:

Antü Energía was awarded first place in SQM's innovation competition, taking home US$50,000 that it plans to use to benefit families in remote locations. 


The winning startup dazzled the jury with its pitch on a mobile energy generation and storage offering for users in isolated communities who are energy impoverished and/or electro-dependent.


As part of its corporate sustainability and innovation plan, SQM launched the “More Lithium, Less Footprint” innovation competition a few weeks ago. The competition concluded on Wednesday, November 10th, at an event hosted by journalist María Elena Dressel at the TVN television studio where 10 proposals selected from a total of 52 participating in the competition presented their projects to the jury. Jury members included Pablo Altimiras, Beatriz Oelckers, Carlos Díaz, Iván Vera, Ángeles Romo, Sebastián Gilbert and Felipe Matta, experts in areas ranging from the lithium industry to innovation, startups and venture capital. The three winners were Antü Energía, Movener and rECOnnect, which were awarded US$50,000, US$30,000 and US$20,000, respectively, to support their projects. In addition to this funding, SQM executives also committed to provide mentoring.


Pablo Altimiras, Senior Vice-President of Sales, Lithium and Iodine at SQM, explained why this project is so meaningful for the company, “The ‘More Lithium, Less Footprint’ challenge is very important because it brings together three elements that are key for SQM: sustainability, the lithium business and innovation. These elements achieve the triple impact of supporting Chilean entrepreneurship, aiming to solve environmental challenges and making a significant social impact. Lithium batteries are positively changing the world and we see that impact also potentially benefiting Chileans through this competition. We are cognizant of what our country and our planet need today. And we do not want to hold back from the fight to reduce the carbon footprint. Rather, we want to be active role models and contribute our expertise. We are very pleased with the results of the competition and definitely plan to hold others in the future.”


“More Lithium, Less Footprint” was supported by INNSPIRAL—a corporate innovation accelerator—and was open to R&D centers, universities, SMEs, startups, among other organizations. It was looking for proposals that contributed to and positively impacted initiatives related to electromobility and storage systems. About the competition, INNSPIRAL president and founder Iván Vera remarked: “We are very happy with the outcome. We have achieved something very important by connecting companies like SQM with startups with the potential to scale up in Chile and abroad. The support is not only financial, but includes know-how regarding large-scale business and the key players in the ecosystem.”.


Noteworthy Finalists

Of the 52 proposals participating in the contest—running from September 27th to October 24th—48 were from different regions throughout Chile, while the remaining four were from other Latin American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico), demonstrating the scope and market surrounding the topic.


Highest honors went to Antü Energía, with its lithium-ion battery-powered device that can connect to photovoltaic panels and, therefore, take electricity to the country’s most remote areas. According to Manuel Mata, the founding partner and CEO of Antü, it was an “opportunity to show the world what we do, demonstrating to the public that innovation and technological development can be done locally, while caring for the environment and positively impacting those who need it most.”.


Second place went to Movener, a startup specialized in training mechanic shops all over Chile to give them the tools they need to convert combustion engines to electric in order to strengthen electromobility in Chile. “We attack the problem of climate change and carbon footprint not only from the standpoint of operating a vehicle but also that of creation. By making it an electric car, we are producing one fewer new vehicle and, therefore, we have reduced emissions from manufacturing,” explained Gonzalo Pacheco, founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Movener.


And, finally, third place was awarded to an initiative that delivers bulk cleaning products in reusable containers within 48 hours, with a platform to predict the demand of each household and plan logistics for the electric vehicles transporting the products. Antonio Irarrázabal, founding partner and CEO of rECOnnect, touched on the importance of the innovation competition, “It meant a lot. One can move existing processes into the future. It has been quite a learning process, where we have been able to validate each of the stages we have developed. It has been fun, challenging and extremely encouraging, from the support to opportunities like this, where SQM and INNSPIRAL joined forces to help us make models like these grow and generate a better Chile with consumer products that are viable for the future.”

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