circle17 Alumni


About the team

Epiclay’s mission is to bring nature back to cities and make urban areas more livable with our modular system of living green walls. The startup was founded within the BUILD’s program – an EU-funded project – and it consists of an international and transdisciplinary team of architects, designers, bioengineers and economists. Epiclay’s green wall modules are carefully produced in Austria and Spain, using local materials to ensure a fair and sustainable product. 


Our experience with circle17 has been truly amazing so far. The best part of this program is to meet and interact with like-minded people who all want to develop solutions that make a positive impact on the environment and our world. Furthermore, circle17 always provides a range of experts from various fields. Those who mentored and supported us not only helped us advance with our start-up, but also connected us with important key players of the market.

Header: (c) Epiclay

Pictures: (c) Epiclay

Specify the problem you are trying to solve: 

According to the WHO(1), around 7 million people die every year due to the consequences of air pollution. Additionally, urban heat islands are a major cause of extremely high temperatures in cities compared to rural areas, which leads to stress and discomfort for city dwellers. We are convinced that green walls are the most effective and efficient way to fight these issues, especially because space in cities is scarce and other solutions, for instance trees, often go at the expense of crucial infrastructure such as sidewalks, parking spaces or cycling lanes. On top of that, Epiclay green walls help to increase the worth and livability of cities – not only because of the environmental impact, but also due to the high aesthetic value provided by the modules, making every building a sight worth seeing.

(1: World Health Organization (2021, January 15). 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/air-pollution )

Describe your proposed solution:

Compared to existing solutions, Epiclay’s green walls are modular, soil-free, lightweight and require little maintenance, which makes them ideal for outside facades as well as indoor areas. They do not harm existing walls, in fact, they even serve as an extra layer of protection for buildings. Especially the modularity allows for flexibility and versatility that is needed in places where only little space is available. All these product features make our solution extremely cost-effective. Moreover, each module is carefully crafted with an innovative material mix as well as a unique plant mixture that are sourced locally and adapted to each individual use case. The base specifically is created by combining ancient building materials with a highly technology-driven approach by using various forms of robotics and other emerging technologies. The surface is designed in a way so that plants can easily attach to and grow on the modules. 

Team Members

Christoph Hornik, CEO

Chris has substantial experience in tax advisory (i.a. Deloitte), as well as corporate innovation management (i.a. Daimler AG). He is also the founder of the social project "Impact Vouchers" and co-initiator of "Zusammen-Leiwand.at"

Melanie Kálmán, COO

Melanie has been working in the sphere of logistics and personal sales in an art gallery for numerous years. This allowed her to gain valuable insights into supply chains and the sales of high-priced goods. Additionally, she studies Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy.

Camille Feliciano, Head of Marketing

Camille studied marketing communication and innovation. Professionally, she focuses on digital marketing and innovation management. Furthermore, she is passionate about content creation and is a skilled photographer. Besides Epiclay, she also runs her own marketing agency.

Mary-Eve Henrotte, Head of Biotechnology

Mary-Eve has an engineering degree with a specialization in agriculture. She has thorough experience in sustainable agriculture, the development of green city solutions and environmental sciences.

Mauricio Casian, Head of Architecture

Mauricio is an architecture student from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia. He has vast experience in graphic design, architecture model construction, and fabrication.

Sumit Nemmaniwar, Head of Design

Sumit has been working in architecture and design for plenty of years and now holds a Master's degree in Advanced Architecture from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia. His expertise lies mainly in urban planning and climate responsive design.