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And the winner of Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF 2022 is…Minerva Lithium

TechCrunch Disrupt 2022 -- the first in-person Disrupt in three years -- is in the books. And as always, we end it by crowning the winner of Startup Battlefield.

It began with 20: As seasoned TechCrunch readers will know, startups participating in the Startup Battlefield were handpicked to compete in the event. During the first two days of Disrupt, the companies pitched before judges -- multiple groups of VCs and tech leaders -- for a chance to win $100,000 and the coveted Battlefield Cup.

After much deliberation, the TechCrunch editors pored over the judges’ notes and narrowed the list down to five finalists: Advanced Ionics, AppMap, Intropic Materials, Minerva Lithium and Swap Robotics.

They pitched in front of the final panel of judges today, which included Mar Hershenson (Pear VC), Yahoo CEO Jim Lanzone, Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures), TechCrunch editor in chief Matthew Panzarino, David Tisch (BoxGroup) and Richard Wong (Accel). One startup emerged victorious. Without further ado!

Winner: Minerva Lithium

Minerva Lithium has produced Nano Mosaic, a coordinated polymer framework that looks a bit like black gravel and extracts critical materials from brine in just three days. Minerva says that it can extract one metric ton of lithium using just 30,000 gallons of water, and it can do it in three days. Evaporative brine processing needs to evaporate 500,000 gallons of water to get to the same amount of lithium. Just one gram of this absorbent material has a surface area equal to that of a soccer pitch, which should give you an idea of just how little you’d need to extract a large amount of minerals. Read our coverage on Minerva Lithium here.

Runner-Up: Intropic Materials

Plastics are great for so many things, but they stay around for an awfully long time. Intropic leaps to the rescue with a set of enzymes that can be added to plastics at the very beginning of their life cycle, before it is even turned into products. The additives the company makes have been proof-of-concept tested and it wants to upend how plastics are made and disposed of. Intropic’s additives make many of the most commonly used plastics biodegradable in normal commercial composting. The enzymes are added to the pellets or powders that are used in the normal course of plastic production. This gives plastics new, biodegradable capabilities without changing the manufacturing processes used to create plastic products. At the end of the life cycle, when it’s time to get rid of the material, the products can be composted into their component parts. Read our coverage on Intropic here.