For the past few weeks, the world has turned its eyes to Glasgow, where the Annual UN Climate Change Conference has taken place from October 31 till November 12. The world is at a critical juncture in the fight against climate change and COP26 has been considered the most important climate debate since the Paris Agreement in 2015.
During the conference, there were notable successes and some setbacks — both having implications for businesses globally. In this blog, we have highlighted some of the most important takeoffs for cleantech startups from the conference.
Cleantech startups at the forefront of the net-zero movement
While world leaders will be the faces of any agreements that are struck, startups will be on the cutting edge of developing new technologies that can turn those pledges into reality. Whether it’s growing vegetables in urban shipping containers, floor tiles that convert footsteps into energy, tree-planting search engines or second-hand clothing marketplaces, new opportunities for innovative businesses are plentiful and much needed in the fight against climate change.
Many commentators suggest that startups, particularly those in the climate tech sector, will be at the forefront of the net-zero movement. Startups are more agile and well-positioned to implement cutting-edge solutions, unlike their larger counterparts. On top of this, they have a unique perspective as they are usually more connected to their local community than larger businesses. And finally, startups are more likely to take a multi-disciplinary approach to problem-solving.
“SMEs and startups have a unique perspective as they are usually more connected to their local community than larger businesses”
The issues surrounding the ability of larger businesses and corporations to implement net-zero plans will require unique skills and perspectives. Many tech experts suspect this will mean more collaboration with startups, SMEs and grassroots projects as focus shifts towards tailoring plans to suit communities, particularly those bearing the brunt of climate change.
VC Funding is booming
Cleantech and climate-related businesses have enjoyed a surge of investment during the COP26. VCs have put their trust in the sector, as they’re opening their wallets at a record rate and sustainability is one of the hottest sectors in the market right now. Some important facts to consider:
- World Fund announced Europe’s largest ever climate-focused fund, with more than half of a €350m target fulfilled already.
- More than $1bn had been invested into cleantech in London alone so far in 2021, already more than in all of 2020.
- Angel investors are a fantastic source of pre-seed and seed-stage capital, and many are focusing solely on sustainability. Check out this growing list of climate angel investors in Europe.
- For a sense of which VC firms and investors are scoping out the sector, have a scroll through this list of the hottest sustainability investments from the last quarter.
Things every startup should be doing
Cleantech is a booming market, with record amounts of investment this year, and startups in unrelated sectors can also take action to improve their sustainability.
- Drawing up an accurate carbon footprint can be a difficult and long process, but it’s vital to understand where your company’s emissions come from. There’s no perfect solution, but startups can look to do it themselves through the helpful toolkit put together by Much Better Adventures, a sustainability-minded travel company, who lists the metrics you ought to be measuring to keep track of your footprint.
- If a company has a bit more money to spend, they can look at one of the growing numbers of carbon accounting products on the market.
- Taking a strategic overview of climate risks and opportunities for your company’s portfolio.
- Assessing the spending of transition capital required to reduce emissions, especially from existing emissions-intensive assets.
- Engaging with the public sector to set rules for net-zero transitions.
- Creating long-term plans for reducing emissions, including short-term targets for 2025 and 2030.
- Creating a program for building capabilities monitoring external conditions and deciding how your plan can be updated and implemented as situations evolve.
Sustainable Marketing: Key Principles
Last but not least, we would like to highlight some tips on how to approach and utilize sustainable marketing. We believe that a successful sustainable marketing strategy follows a number of important principles:
- Have more focus on purpose;
- Place value ahead of profit;
- Be consumer-oriented;
- Reflect sustainability in every aspect of your brand.