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Team Citrion from the University of Athens has won the 2020 BISC-E student competition today (October 20). The team developed a profitable solution to the nuisance caused by bitter oranges in the Greek capital.
Editorial office / Brussels

All over Athens there are orange trees with inedible fruits. About 40 kt of oranges fall on the road every year. They start to smell, become slippery and cause traffic accidents and blockages of rainwater drains.

Team Citrion developed a plan in which citizens collect the fruits in ‘smart bins’ at various locations in the city. Doing this, they can earn points through a game app, with which they can save for discounts in local shops. Various valuable ingredients can be obtained from the collected fruits. Two have been studied, namely preservatives for cosmetics and natural pesticides for organic farming. According to Citrion, a total of 15 ktonnes of product can be made and a profit of € 86 million can be achieved per year.


The winners received a check for € 5,000 to further develop their idea. The second prize (€ 2,500) went to the Dutch team Sucker Spheres, from Leiden University and the University of Groningen. They developed rapidly degradable microplastic pearls (microbeads) for cosmetics from a material that can be found in squid suckers, but can also be produced in a standard industrial bioreactor.

The Finnish team Zeopack from the University of Aalto won the third prize (€ 1,000) for their idea: a (recycled) paper insert with additives to absorb ethylene. This can extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetables by up to 40%.


The three finalists were selected by an expert jury from six participating student students. Jurors were Kees de Gooijer (TKI Agri & Food, NL), George Sakellaris (Academy of Sciences Czech Republic, CZ), Manfred Kircher (Wageningen University, DE) and Kevin O’Connor (University College Dublin / UCD and the Irish National Bioeconomy Research Center / BEACON, IE). The prize winners were chosen by industry members of the Bio-based Industries Consortium. After the digital award ceremony, Nelo Emerencia, Program Director of BIC, expressed the ambition that teams from at least half of all European member states will participate in the competition by 2021.

The Bio-based Innovation Student Challenge Europe (BISC-E) aims to promote disruptive innovation in the bio-based sector, in an annual competition between some of Europe’s most promising university students (BSc & MSc).

Videos of all submissions can still be viewed on the BISC-E YouTube channel.

Image: chrisontour84/Shutterstock