Eco-friendly marine infrastructure startup ECOncrete Tech Ltd. won first prize at the Pitch to Rich event that took place Thursday as part of Virgin Atlantic and Calcalist’s Business Is an Adventure conference in Tel Aviv.

At the event, five Israeli startups pitched their technologies to Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire co-founder of multinational conglomerate the Virgin Group. The conference, held in celebration of Virgin Atlantic’s new daily flight route from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to London’s Heathrow Airport launched last month, and took place at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation.

Among the prizes won by ECOncrete are a trip to London to meet with top Virgin executives at the company’s headquarters, as well as an opportunity to join Virgin’s startup accelerator.

Founded in 2012 by marine ecologists Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and Ido Sella, Tel Aviv-based ECOncrete manufactures concrete structures that accelerate the growth of marine plants and animals, including fish, coral reefs, seaweed, and sea anemone.

ECOncrete develops a bio-enhancing material, which it adds to its concrete mix to reduce its carbon footprint and encourage fauna and flora growth. The structures are designed with crevices and textures that mimic natural surfaces such as rocks to encourage living organisms to develop on their surface. Perkol-Finkel, who is CEO of ECOncrete, introduced the company.,7340,L-3772388,00.html