Crowdfunding since 2010

We develop a stand-up paddle board made of 100% renewable lightweight material for the perfect wave - free of petroleum-based plastics!

Our vision: Water sports become plastic-free! With your help we are developing »ecoSUP« - an ecological stand-up paddle board - made of completely renewable material. Our wood-based lightweight construction material would make water sports more environmentally friendly and give the entire industry a new perspective. Support us and send a clear signal against the plastic flood in our waters and for this wonderful sport to be in harmony with nature!
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Funding period
11/12/20 - 12/22/20
March 2021 to February 2023
Minimum amount (Start level): 14,000 €

will help with the purchase of materials and special tools for the first prototype, which will be donated to a non-profit organization after our tests.

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What is this project all about?

Stand-up paddling (SUP) is booming and has now conquered all waters, whether sea, river or lake. Stand-up paddling has become a trend sport for young and old and is even set to become an Olympic sport. Not only since the »Corona-Summer« the sales figures of SUP boards have been increasing. Alone on the board, surrounded by water, stand-up paddling means freedom, independence and relaxation and is a true nature sport. Sportsmen and women need little infrastructure that could disturb wild and aquatic animals and can take their boards into action directly on their local waters.

However, the production of surfing equipment and accessories is not very environmentally friendly. Usually, conventional surfboards are made of petroleum-based plastics. Inflatable boards, so-called iSUPs, primarily consist of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the solid hardboards are made of polystyrene or polyurethane in the core. Polyester or epoxy resins are used for the coating and reinforced with glass and carbon fabrics. This is exactly what we want to change by developing a completely ecological SUP hardboard made of recycled and natural materials: the »ecoSUP«. Our first development attempts have already led to promising results.

For the core, we use balsa wood from discarded rotor blades of wind turbines. At the end of their life cycle, these accumulate as waste. In order to achieve the longest possible CO2 binding, it makes sense to find material recycling possibilities for the balsa wood rather than simply burning it. We are creating a new recycling path for balsa wood as a raw material and reducing our CO2 emissions in the long term. For the shell of the »ecoSUP« we aim at a 100% bio-based Polymer. As reinforcement, we are concentrating on the use of flax fibers, as they have excellent mechanical properties and are grown in Europe.

We are a team led by Christoph, a scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI in Braunschweig, and we want to develop the first completely ecological SUP board. Christoph and his team have laid the foundation for this with promising material developments and initial preliminary tests. Together with you and this crowdfunding campaign, we want to create visibility for the project and finance special tools and material costs for the first prototype. We want to prove that water sports are possible without plastic. To realize this, we need your support!

What is the project goal and who is the project for?

SUP boards made of recycled and natural materials would make the water sport even more environmentally friendly. Nowhere else than on the water, the human intervention in nature becomes more evident. Gigantic rubbish carpets, plastic in the stomachs of marine mammals or animals trapped in packaging remnants are visible signs of our throwaway society. We want to bring the environmentally friendly surfboard from a niche product to a broad application, using only natural and recycled materials.

Our initial focus is on SUP hardboards because the material is exposed to a wide range of factors such as moisture, salt water, UV radiation and mechanical stress in this sport. The lightweight composite material developed could be adapted for other water sports boards (e.g. surfboards, kiteboards) and recreational equipment (e.g. skateboards). Our vision is even broader: our technology could be used in boat building (e.g. cabin partitions, hulls) or in the mobility sector (e.g. train or automotive industry), which would reduce our ecological footprint in the long run.

Therefore, »ecoSUP« is aimed at all nature-loving water sports enthusiasts while also targeting all people interested in research who want to express their love of nature and set an example against environmental pollution. We want to inspire people who share with us the view that inventive talent and engineering skills can change the world.

Why would you support this project?

Lightweight construction is considered a technology of the future because of maximum weight savings. However, it generally uses fossil resources. If we succeed in developing lightweight construction materials from renewable resources, we could create new perspectives for entire sectors and industries while making our everyday life more environmentally friendly.

The »ecoSUP« would be the first example where we highlight that bio-lightweight construction material is a real alternative to conventional plastics. To ensure its competitiveness, we are subjecting the new bio-hybrid material to various tests. It should not only be more ecological but should also be relatively durable because of its high specific strength, while offering technical advantages for lightweight construction applications.

To enable as many water sports enthusiasts as possible to paddle on ecological boards and to ensure organic plastics find their way into our everyday lives, inventive spirit and passion are needed – two qualities that distinguish Fraunhofer researchers. The workshops and laboratories at the Fraunhofer WKI offer the best conditions for this. The preliminary tests have been completed and we are now holding a promising lightweight wood foam in our hands.

With crowdfunding we want to accelerate the development of the first »ecoSUP« and finance the purchase of materials and special tools for the prototype. Crowdfunding helps heart-felt projects like »ecoSUP« which are not in the immediate economic interest.

As a rule, we at Fraunhofer carry out contract research. In contrast to universities or similar public-sector research institutions, Fraunhofer researchers like Christoph have to acquire the majority of the funds for their projects themselves. Although the federal and state governments provide basic funding, this accounts for just one third of the budget.

In the early phase of material development, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has supported the »ecoSUP« project. Now the team is looking for additional funding sources to develop the product. This is generally where companies come into play as financiers. However, we do not want to develop the bio-based materials for a single company only. Rather, we want the ecological material to be widely used.

So, you as a crowd are a special kind of client in this case, the people that make this possible! Thank you for being here!

How will we use the money if the project is successfully funded?

Reaching the first funding target (14,000 €) helps to purchase material and special tools for the first »ecoSUP«. To produce the prototype, we optimize the balsa wood foam and develop a suitable eco-based polyester resin. We subject the manufactured materials to a series of tests on mechanical properties, processability and durability using accelerated aging simulation in climate chambers. Afterwards, the prototype is donated to a non-profit organization.

The second funding goal (25,000 €) serves the development of accessories such as paddles, fins and fin boxes – to go alongside the »ecoSUP«. These accessories are also subject of intense practical tests regarding influences such as salt water, UV radiation or mechanical stress. After our tests, this additional equipment will also be donated to a non-profit organization.

Who are the people behind the project?

Project initiator of »ecoSUP« is Christoph, researcher at Fraunhofer WKI. In his spare time, he is often out and about on the SUP, ending his work days with some physical activity in nature. After studying engineering at the TU Braunschweig, he is now researching lightweight construction materials and sustainable solutions.

The idea for »ecoSUP« was born on a vacation trip. The otherwise so untouched island landscape was spoiled by a lot of urban waste. A look at his feet or more specific the SUP underneath made it clear that as a water sports enthusiast one is part of the problem oneself. Thus the desire to research sustainable materials was strengthened. Christoph found ideal conditions for this at the Fraunhofer WKI with its interdisciplinary teams.

The financial foundation stone for the now completed exploratory phase was laid by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The Fraunhofer WKI team is supported in the development of the material by researchers from the Technical University of Braunschweig. The team from the TU Braunschweig is also determining the ecological footprint of the new material composition. For the feasibility study and practical tests the researchers are also joined by experts from the field of materials science and the surf scene.

During this crowdfunding campaign, the research team around Christoph is supported by other colleagues from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft: Alexandra and Federico help to promote the project and provide you with the latest project information. Malgorzata and her team at Fraunhofer IMW are doing research on crowdfunding and are supporting the campaign from a scientific perspective. Among other things, they have created a questionnaire to find out what motivates you to support projects from the scientific community.


The crowdfunding project was not successful and can no longer be supported.

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Fraunhofer IMW

The Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW is investigating aspects of sustainability, environmental awareness as well as effectiveness and scope in relation to the »ecoSUP« campaign. Click here for the survey.

Fraunhofer IMW

The Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW is investigating aspects of sustainability, environmental awareness as well as effectiveness and scope in relation to the »ecoSUP« campaign. Click here for the survey.

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