powerNEXT Challenges

A Circular Approach To Renewable Energy

Winning the SGD Connect challenge and establishing Vestas as a potential customer has significantly enabled ZILA BioWorks to secure financial support and advance their technology.

Impact Stats
100 K
Tonnes of epoxy resin annually by Vestas
60 %
less GHGs compared to petroleum-based epoxies
3 - 5 Year
Timeline from Pilot to Customer

September 2020 to March 2021

Building The Next Generation of Wind Turbines

This Challenge sought solutions for the designing and decommissioning of turbine blades, helping Vestas - one of the largest wind turbine manufacturers in the world - lower their environmental footprint and improve their circular economy practices.

ZILA BioWorks went from pressing the world's first snowboard created with industrial hemp oil-based epoxy resin to one of two winners, moving from a bootstrapping startup to a robust partner of Vestas. 

Challenge Sponsor:


Challenge Winner:

ZILA BioWorks and PointSource Processing

Challenge Coordinators:

The Trade Commissioner Service and Embassy of Canada to Denmark and Foresight Canada

Challenge Outcomes

In 2020, ZILA BioWorks was focused on the outdoor sporting goods industry when potential investors told them they needed to expand beyond such a small and niche market. It was around that time that the SDG Connect Vestas Challenge was launched. 

Since winning, they have signed an NDA with Vestas, who has been established as a potential customer in a 3-5 year timeline.


Business Progress

  • Since winning, ZILA has continued to raise both grants and equity investments.  To date, ZILA has raised US$2.9M, including US$1.1M of that in non-dilutive grants.  
  • ZILA continues to build out its team, partners, and supply chain to move towards commercialization.


Technological Progress

  • After winning the Vestas Innovation Challenge, ZILA formulated their bio-epoxy resin for wind turbine blades. Not only did the bio-resin perform better than a traditional petroleum-based epoxy, in the lab ZILA was able to demonstrate the recyclability of both the bio-epoxy and carbon fibres in full length tact providing a potential end-of-life scenario that aligns with the circular economy.
  • ZILA is now part of the Shell GameChanger Accelerator Powered by NREL for our wind turbine blade formulation. This accelerator will move ZILA through advanced mechanical and process manufacturing testing to ultimately build and test a 1-meter wind turbine blade at the National Wind Technology Center in Colorado. 


Environmental Progress

  • A 3rd party Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) found that ZILA’s bio-resin has the potential for a 60% reduction in carbon footprint compared to petroleum-based epoxies at pilot scale.
  • The LCA only included the carbon sequestered in the seed oil, not taking into account potential benefits from full crop utilization, carbon sequestered in the soil, or recyclability enabled by ZILA's unique chemistry.
  • ZILA continues to invest in learning more about LCA work internally with the intention of being able to understand environmental impacts of all the materials in their formulations at the design stage.
  • Their goal is to eventually achieve net zero and possibly even carbon-negative resin systems.

Challenge Background

Vestas is the energy industry’s global partner in sustainable energy solutions. They ran a Challenge to identify fully recyclable solutions that could be used in Vestas’ next-generation production of wind turbine blades to support a circular approach to renewable energy generation.  

ZILA BioWorks and PointSource Processing were selected as the Challenge winners. Immediately following the Challenge, Vestas worked with both to explore mentorship and one-to-one support for their technologies.

Finding solutions to these challenges helped Vestas advance the following SDG Goals:

Affordable and Clean Energy
Affordable and Clean Energy UN
Responsible Consumption and Production
Responsible Consumption and Production UN

Who Was Involved

  • Foresight Canada Horizontal
  • SDC_TCS_White-Leaf35-Red
  • ZILA_Full_Color
  • Vestas.svg