Editorial Note: The first in a series of two articles to give examples of climate innovation in practice.
Meet the Companies Making a Difference to Climate Change
Innovation is complex, and climate-innovation more so; hence the Climate-KIC accelerator.
Sustainable Nation, in partnership with Climate-KIC and supported by AIB, is working with 13 innovative companies that are developing climate-aligned products or services as a part of its Accelerator programme.
The Accelerator is an 18-month, three-stage programme designed to help start-ups grow a clean-tech idea into a great business. The programme supports start-ups by providing the tools, opportunities, and network to transform their breakthrough innovations into a marketable product or service that will appeal to consumers who want to support climate-innovation to change the systems in which they live and work. These companies embody change and prove that collaboration across Europe and beyond, structured training, and world-class trainers can shape the skills and behaviours needed to progress toward a clean future.
The companies participating are addressing challenges in cities, agriculture, production, and finance. Let’s meet some of these start-ups:
Transforming our cities and communities
The transition to clean, green cities requires everyone to play their part, including start-ups. Cities, due to their scale, can bring about positive social and environmental change, but this requires smart thinkers who can see creative linkages and capitalise on opportunities.
Charging as a service
One of the largest contributors to climate change is the transportation sector, and start-ups in the Accelerator are actively working to find alternatives. Bolt promotes EV charging as a service, making it more convenient for people to own electric vehicles and remove fossil fuels from the city landscape.
Another part of life in an urban area is energy consumption. Xunison works to make homes smart, enabling homeowners to reduce their energy consumption by unplugging certain appliances and devices during non-peak times.
Smart waste collection
Kollect offers a solution that optimizes waste-collection; it is a platform that connects customers with top-quality, pre-screened, independent bin collectors, allowing for route efficiency, thus reducing the transportation costs and carbon emissions associated with having multiple service providers in the same neighbourhood. More importantly, it gives customers a sense of control in managing their domestic waste, which will lead to longer-term behavioural change.
Preparing for an urban transition to more sustainable practices is not without its challenges. City authorities play a significant role in enabling and planning for this transition, but often they struggle to go further due to lack of capacity and funding to implement long-term change. By advocating for innovative start-ups – such as Bolt, Kollect, and Xunision—and their connection with a customer base, cities can continue to lead the way in the development of clean-tech and bolster the resilience of an urban area to the impacts of climate change.
Decoupling economic growth from unsustainable resource use and emissions
Global industry is responsible for over 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, making it imperative to transition to a circular production and economic model. The sustainable production system supports urban areas and land-use sectors in their transition to carbon-neutrality by promoting start-ups that will deliver high-impact climate solutions to reduce waste and emissions associated with manufacturing.
The production of clean energy is one of the biggest issues facing the sector today. Accelerator start-ups like Dowmann embody the idea of a circular economy into their core values. Dowmann believes that there is no such thing as waste, only resources that have been misplaced. By using locally sourced, unconventional, and underused forms of biomass, Dowmann recovers and repurposes lost resources to create local and sustainable jobs and generate renewable energy.
Niche markets also provide opportunities for start-ups to make a difference. Hexafly capitalises on the global shortfall in aquaculture feed, using black soldier flies as a sustainable food source. By using an innovative and improved method, Hexafly produces four products – oil, protein, frass, and chitin; the oil and protein are used are used as aquaculture feed, frass is a high-value plant fertiliser, while the chitin – a biopolymer – has many applications including use in medicine, cosmetics, and in the food industry. Using a circular approach, Hexafly has taken a previously underutilised resource and created a sustainable commodity.
Mimergy created an environmentally friendly technology which converts waste rubber into high-value chemicals and fuels. This technology breaks down the organic compounds found in rubber, creating a variety of recovered products including solvents, oils and carbon black. Recognising that waste tyres contain valuable resources, Minergy wants to contribute to a circular economy and give industrial consumers the opportunity to achieve sustainability by using green recovered products.
There are many extreme environmental costs associated with the fast fashion industry, from toxic dyes polluting waterways to water treatment facilities struggling to filter out microplastics. Two companies in the Accelerator strive to reduce this waste while promoting fashion.
The Nu Wardrobe is a platform that enables users to share clothing with people in their hyper-localized area. Users can enjoy beautiful and changing fashion in an affordable way, giving them access to clothing for any sort of event. Nu significantly extends the lifecycle of clothes and keeps new pieces from entering the waste system.
Fitted produces a garment which lets users know their exact size before ordering online, lowering the transportation costs associated with return shipping. In addition, all the products sold on the Fitted website are from talented, ethical, and sustainable brands and designers.
Circular economic and production models supported by Climate-KIC are also in-line with policy initiatives from the European Union, one of the major drivers for wide systems change across all themes. In their 2018 goals, the EU prioritized the implementation of a circular economy. This decision drives many companies to evaluate their supply-chains and turn to start-ups like those above for innovative solutions to enable their transition to a carbon-neutral and waste-free production model.
To learn more about the start-ups participating in the 2018 Accelerator, please CLICK HERE
To learn more about the start-ups that participated in the 2017 Accelerator, please CLICK HERE
Stay tuned to learn more about start-ups working in sustainable land-use and decision metrics.