Israeli marine biologist Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, head of Tel Aviv-based ECOncrete, was selected as an awardee in the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge, the first global business competition for women entrepreneurs who are advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The WE Empower Challenge honors five female entrepreneurs, one from each of the five UN regions, who are advancing the SDGs through their business practices. The opportunity recognizes their innovative work, provides capacity-building training sessions and high-level advocacy opportunities.

Perkol-Finkel cofounded ECOncrete in 2012 to address the ecological damage done by concrete ports, breakwaters and piers.

ECOncrete’s environmentally sensitive concrete products enhance marine life while increasing the structural stability, longevity and aesthetics of urban waterfronts and coastal structures. The technology features a modified concrete “recipe,” a variegated texture attractive to marine life, and a 3D design to accommodate elements such as tiny holes for little fish to hide in.

ECOncrete has won awards including the Ocean Exchange challenge (Savannah, Georgia, 2012); best startup of the EISP 8200 competition (Israel, 2014); first prize at the World Science & Technology Innovation (Shanghai, 2015); SwitchMed Green Pitch competition (2017); and Port XL scale up alumnae (2018); the 2018 Biomimicry Design Challenge for its Tide Pool Armor product; and the Island of Happiness Coastal Design Challenge (Bali, 2018).

The WE Empower Challenges Awardees will convene in New York City during the week of the UN General Assembly starting September 24. They’ll attend the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, a dialogue with the Council of Women World Leaders (CWWL), the We the People Summit, the G5 Collective Dinner and the Global Citizen Summit.

Representing the “Western EU & Other” region, Perkol-Finkel will join the other four awardees in a pitch competition hosted by fashion designer, activist and Vital Voices Board Member Diane von Furstenberg, vying for a $20,000 grant.

Perkol-Finkel has a PhD in marine biology and ecology from Tel-Aviv University and was an EU Marie Curie Fellow during her post-doc at the University of Bologna, Italy.