Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Oxara AG

What is the name of your solution?


Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

A circular, cement-free, low carbon and low Cost building materials for sustainable construction and affordable housing

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

Native from Togo, Gnanli Landrou lived inequality through Housing. The poor lives in non safe or non decent mud or earthen houses, while the rich can afford to build with cement and concrete homes. It is the reality of many people. So much so that the WorldBank and UN Habitat estimated that we need to build houses to 2 billion people by 2030. Yet current construction materials (fired clay brick, cement and concrete) are responsible of 11% of global CO2 emission, depleted billion of tons of natural resources getting scarce and in the global south they are expensive. Furthermore, the construction industry generates 1/3 of global waste (excavation materials, mineral sludge and demolition waste) and earth material locally available resources is not used at scale due to the high labor and have bad social image.

To respond to the global climate and resources challenge while providing safe, healthy, low carbon and affordable housing, we need to modernise earth construction, find ways to re-use efficiently construction waste without changing conventional materials production and construction process

What is your solution?

Oxara has developed and sell to concrete producers and brick manufacturers, patented non-toxic and non-hazardous, mineral admixtures and binders named Oxacrete, Oxabrick and Oxaflow that help to transform construction waste and earth materials into circular, cement-free and low carbon building materials to substitute concrete, fired clay brick and cement in housing.

The admixtures and binders are designed so that when added to mineral construction waste and earth materials, improve the fluidity of the mixture. Then due to the chemical reaction process, the fluid mixture harden to form a solid construction or building materials

Oxara building materials based on the admixtures and binders (cleancrete and cleanbrick) reuse up to 80% of waste and earth, and have more than 70% of CO2 reduction compared to conventional brick or concrete and are up to 30% cheaper at scale.

Currently 3 mineral admixtures and binders are validated at industrial scale and one Oxabrick is market ready. 

Thank to the admixture technology, we are able to use recycled the waste while using current process. this is an advantage as we keep similar process and infrastructure. 

For instance, the cleancrete uses similar concrete mixing machine, same formwork for casting and can be demoed within 3 to 4 days. this make the technology accessible, easy to implement and scale.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Oxara admixture and binder innovation serves the global construction industry. With the current cleancrete and cleanbrick performances, to build houses for up to 6 storey, we can replace more than 50% of global concrete and brick market. 

Housing is a human right and of importance to access better education, better health, to develop business and more. In Africa, we need to build more than 500 million homes, more than 310 thousands schools and 85 thousands health centre at reasonable cost. With Oxara technology, we are able to use the resources under our feet and construction waste to erect these infrastructure therefore impacting the life of million of people at lower cost. 

We are currently a team of 14 people based in Switzerland. Since the incorporation of Oxara in 2019, we demonstrate the product market fit. We proved that the technology work at industrial scale, and identify a huge opportunity and market for cleancrete and cleanbrick. We have partnerships with leading Swiss concrete and brick producers, and construction company. This raised the interest from global concrete players like Holcim, Cemex, Saint Gobain and more. 

Up to date, we implemented cleancrete in 4 small projects.  For instance, we completed a 20 sqm pavilion where we use cleancrete to make walls of the pavilion in Geneva. We also built a 500sqm floor in a church in Zurich. This led to the growing demand of projects from well known architectural offices around the globe.

To achieve its vision for sustainable construction and affordable housing, then climate and social impact, Oxara is strengthening his presence in Europe by growing it partners ecosystem and acquiring new projects (21 projects request up to date). Furthermore, we are entering new market such as India and East Africa. In East Africa, Oxara first move is to partner with EarthEnable to deliver healthy sustainable floors and affordable housing.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Oxara team members are composed of skilled technical team developing and improving the admixtures and the building products. This represent the core of Oxara activities to develop robust solution to transform earth material and construction waste into building products. 

The team includes architects and application developers to advice, train and support in the implementation of Oxara based products in construction projects. For instance, we provide consulting services to real estate developers, architects, building owners on the use of cement-free, low carbon building materials. We also train concrete and brick producers on the production of high quality building products

Finally we have industry and business experience in finance, in operation and construction activities to strength market position and enable execution of project. We hired 20+ years financial director, 15+ years construction project manager and lead operation and 12+ years experience in concrete supply to balance the young innovative, technical team. 

Overall, our team is compact, agile, and motivated to drive the innovation towards market readiness and implementation.

However, to reach our goals we need to grow substantially the team in different region with technical sale for the acquisition of project, local and international business development, a partnerships manager. We need also to get more architects onboard to develop Oxara internal concept on affordable housing as well as growing the technology team to further develop the products.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Support informal communities in upgrading to more resilient housing, including financing, design, and low-carbon materials or energy sources.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?


What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization testing a product, service, or business model with a small number of users

How many people does your solution currently serve?

Our solution is in the implementation phase. 

We have two construction projects: 

Burkwil: a 6 storey house in Switzerland that combines cleancrete with wood in 2024. The execution of the project can serve more than 100 family. 

Pavilion Zero: is a 250 sqm project destined to student at University of Luzern. the project will start late 2023 and have the potential to impact the livelihood of 5000 students on the campus.

We are also designing together with EarthEnable a showcase house in Rwanda to demonstrate that the technological solution work in the Rwanda context. Similar implementation projects are explored in India with Habitat for Humanity.

Why are you applying to Solve?

Through the application to Solve, we want to tap into the academic, industrial network to grow and scale up the innovation, the business. This implies access to construction company, concrete and brick manufactures, real estate developers, architects but also and VC, family offices, strategic partners network to join the the journey of Oxara as board or advisory boards. We want to connect with MIT and others US Universities to attract top technical, sales and business talents, experts to join our growing team.

Solve gives us the opportunity to collect data about the US market; get the Oxara solution known to a larger audience and create the traction needed to accelerate the implementation of the solution.

Finally, our application is to access the funding available to scale up the solution and start construction in Switzerland, in Europe, in India, in East Africa and maybe in the US.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business Model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Financial (e.g. accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. delivery, logistics, expanding client base)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Gnanli Landrou

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Conventional solutions to replace cement in concrete consist of new process and technology such as curing under CO2, or changing the alkalinity of the system, setting up a new plant for the calcination of clay, or requiring ramming process to use excavation materials. Furthermore, for brick or block no innovation have been able to scale because it does not match the production process.

Oxara admixtures and binders are the first one to one replacement of cement bag in concrete yet they are not corrosive and can be handle by hand

Oxara admixtures and binders are simple, fast and easy to use. They are the first solution able to transform up to 90 % of mineral construction waste, excavated earth materials into building products using similar concrete and block production process. Therefore no new investment is required from the industrial customers or local masons.

Oxara admixtures and binders are the first to remove firing process (cost intensive step) in brick the production

Oxara admixtures and admixtures enable drastic reduction of CO2 therefore creating a carbon revenue for industrial customers interested to sell carbon credits. 

Finally, Oxara admixtures and binders solution represents a win win for the Oxara and the industrial customers. So far the waste is landfilled. In Switzerland and EU, 1 ton of waste cost around 15 Euro to landfill. We evaluated that for a industrial customers/partners, they could save 12 Mio Euro by not landfilling and reusing the waste. 

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Our key metric and indicators are targeted to our vision: enable sustainable construction and affordable housing. 

We calculate on one hand the amount of CO2 saved by using using our technology. So far, for the project completed, we have saved more than 100 tons of CO2 eq. 

Over the next year our goals is to saved 100 to 1000 kg CO2eq per construction and housing projects. We estimated to saved annually minimum 6000 kg CO2eq in 2026 onwards. 

Furthermore, we want to impact the life of people by enabling access to affordable housing. We expect by 2026 to build houses for 10 families. By 2030 reach more than 10'000 houses in the global south. while in the conceptual west region accelerate the adoption of Oxara products to reduce use of cement and energy intensive building materials. 

The business model proposed enables a rapid scale up after market entry. Our social impact includes to create a comfortable and welcoming working areas for the team members.

To reach these KPI, in the European market Oxara has 21 projects in the pipelines to be implemented by 2027. The project database is growing with request from Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia, Senegal, Gambia and more. Oxara has 3 partnerships with leading concrete and brick manufacturers in Switzerland and is growing the partnerships in other European countries and in East Africa with Earth Enable and India with SolarPunk

Oxara collaborates with well known architects and engineers to recommend Oxara products during the design phase in their respective projects. We currently collaborate with Herzog De Meuron: an Pritzker prize in Architecture, Zumthor and, Duplex Architecture two winners of the architectural prizes in Europe. 

Oxara is in discussion with Habitat for Humanity, NGO focus on affordable housing and school development, and housing development programs in Global South to implement the vision of Oxara for affordable housing. 

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Oxara has two indicators: 

1) a CO2 indicator linked with the admixtures sold per year 

2) a Social indicator linked with the amount of affordable housing projects completed per year

3) A resource indicator linked with the amount of building materials produced annually  

We believe we need more target and KPI. We hope to learn from Solve how to identify our key impact indicators

What is your theory of change?

Oxara admixtures brick and concrete will have the desired impact because of our approach to solve the problem. 

1) Involving the ecosystem of decision maker in the development of Oxara based building materials products, 

2) Allowing the regulators and government authorities in enjoying the success, 

3) creating new revenues for customers of the admixtures and binder solution

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Cement is a versatile construction materials that harden when added to water. However cement at global scale is top 3 contributors of global CO2 emissions. Reducing cement use and impact is a bigger challenge in a fight against climate change.

Oxara admixture and binders are a blend of mineral powders that react with clay particles and fines demolition waste in presence of water. The solution has two effects: First is the deflocculation or dispersion of the fines particles through steric and electrostatic repulsion. The improvement in workability correlate rheologically with the addition of the admixture. This cause a yield stress decrease that enables to process the cement-free concrete (cleancrete) like conventional concrete. This is possible as the admixture adsorb on the surface of the clay particle and of the waste fine.

Then through delay reaction, an exothermic chemical reaction is induced between the constituants that compose the solution. This enable the fluid mix to start hardening. This phase is called setting. The reactive phase, calcium silicate hydrate, or calcium phosphate crystallise and create a Van Der Walls bonding interaction forces between the fines particles. Similar reactive phases are observed in cement system. Our solution is the able to produce the binding forces without the high intensity of cement. 

Both the deflocculation and coagulation are the basis of the formulation of the admixture and binders as explained in this paper

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new technology

How do you know that this technology works?

The technology used by Oxara is co-developed by Dr. Gnanli Landrou, during his PhD at ETH Zurich. 

Following the PhD, since 2019 we have tried the solution with different construction waste and earth materials, at lab scale and with industrial producers in concrete plant. The first trial was the casting of 300 L cleancrete and the production of 10 kg of admixtures in 2019. In 2021, we built a 12sqm pavilion with Marti Geneva, exterior furnitures with the Swiss railway company SBB, a 500 sqm floor for a church in Zurich and a private house in Portugal. The technology worked as shown in the completed project Cleanbrick is certified and Cleancrete is going under the industrial validation and certification procedure.

A new demonstration that the technology work is the acquisition of 6 storey high residential building in Zurich. The project will start in 2024 after certification of cleancrete

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Materials Science
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

To improve work life balance, Oxara set a policy to favourite part time an hire most people at 80% with the right choose if you want to work higher or not. We are a team of 14 people. Two members working at 100%, one at 90%, and one at 30% and another at 20%. All the rest of the team work mainly at 80%. We also work with consultants 50% focus on financial planning and raw materials supply chains.

How long have you been working on your solution?

Oxara was founded late 2019 in Zurich. Prior, Dr. Gnanli Landrou did his PhD for four years in developing the technology and understanding the science

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Oxara means community. It has a diverse team Culture, Nationality and Race. It is an inclusive team that promote 80% working conditions and work-life balance. Oxara team has more than 50% women: 9 women for 7 men. 

Our strategy consists of hiring the best people and talent. We realised that candidates applying at Oxara as community are people and talent focused.  

We share our values during the hiring process of Trust, Compassion, Curiosity and Community, and working advantage like 5 weeks holidays/year at 100% instead of 4 weeks, flexible working hours and location. 

Oxara also fight the discrimination that exists when applying for health insurance for the employees and do the extra effort to hire non EU candidate. 

Oxara has also option incentive for the team to be part of the journey and responsible of the project

As the team expand and business grow, our strategy is to hire local talents to manage the local business, to do so we work with local consultants.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Oxara business model has different revenues stream. The business model focus on one hand on direct sales of admixtures and binders to building bricks or concrete materials producers. On the other hand, Oxara provide a service solution that include consulting, training and product quality management. We believe this business model is aligned with the current construction value chains and is based on feedbacks from industry players.

To understand that, we need to evaluate the construction project phase from acquisition to execution. 

The first 2 - 3 years of an architectural projects design and planning, Oxara provides paid consulting service to the planning team (architects, engineers and project manager) in order to best use Oxara based products. 

Simultaneously, Oxara trains the material producer and construction company on how the produce the building materials at scale. 

As the project reach the implementation phase (3 to 4 years), Oxara is paid by the construction company to ensure good product quality of materials to build with. 

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

Up to date, Oxara raised 4 Mio Euro through startup wards, grants, and convertible loans. 

our current strategy is to bring in equity investors that will support our growth phase and fund the production of the admixtures and binders. in addition to get additional grants. However, being financially sustainable, Oxara rely on the sales of the admixtures and the binders. 

We expect to generate through one partner in Europe a revenue of 28 Mio Euro when replacing 40% of his concrete production by Oxara products. 

Due to the vision of sustainable construction and affordable housing, Oxara is in contact with foundation and looking for government contract to fund the affordable housing aspect as the market is subject of low profit margins. 

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

Since incorporation, Oxara raised 4 mid CHF in startup prizes, grants and convertible loans.

Around 1 Mio CHF came from the startup awards such as deVigier, Pioneer Fellowships, Venture Kick, Innobooster and more. Then around 2 Mio CHF in European grants and the Swiss Climate Foundation. the remaining in convertible loans. 

To achieve Financial Sustainability in the future, Oxara is seeking to raise money in exchange of investment to respond to growing projects demand. 

Solution Team

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