We live in a world facing unprecedented levels of change. Drastic, far-reaching environmental change brought on by the emission of greenhouse gases. The 20 warmest years in history have been within the last 22 years. Global sea levels have risen 20cm in the past century. Ice sheets and glaciers are shrinking at an unprecedented rate. This is a global emergency and it requires a global response.
The World Economic Forum suggests that digital technology could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2030 – but 40% of these technologies are yet to reach the mass market. So this year, supported by BNP Paribas, we launched the Net Zero growth programme. This government-backed initiative is the very first in the world to focus on accelerating the growth of promising scaleups which are driven by a shared mission reducing global carbon dioxide levels.
This week we held a special event for our Net Zero 1.0 cohort; it was an opportunity for these businesses to showcase their work and initiate a conversation with an audience of change-makers from 38 countries globally.
The 30 companies and 4 fellows in our first cohort come from over 10 sectors and all come at this challenge from a different angle. From companies decarbonising energy systems, such as Zeigo and Electron, to those creating zero-carbon homes, such as Sero and Project Etopia. From organisations initiating a sustainable farming revolution, like Small Robot Company and LettUsGrow, to those transforming transport infrastructure, like Connected Kerb and Antonym.
The scaleups on the programme may vary in their approach, but they are all equally as inspiring and equally as driven to not only reconfigure markets, but to reshape our planet. You can find out more about their innovative work here.
Power in collaboration
Innovation is accelerated by collaboration and so we were privileged to be joined by three of the UK Government’s strongest advocates for a carbon-neutral future: Alex Hickman, Business Adviser to the Prime Minister; Andrew Griffith MP, the UK’s Net Zero Business Champion; and Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth. All stressed the importance of the role of tech and entrepreneurs in driving towards the UK Government’s ambitious – and precedent-setting – target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The ‘green industrial revolution’ poses many challenges, but we also have the opportunity to be a world leader in greentech and we look forward to working together on this goal.
In addition to government, collaboration with major corporates is essential to reaching our goals. Louise Roper from Volans outlined that many of these companies are beginning to reimagine their entire industries. Anne Marie Verstraeten, from our headline partner BNP Paribas, stressed that banks also have a key role to play in the transition process to net zero. Many large corporates have made public pledges to support a greener world, and good intentions need to be held to account in order for change to be made.
Infrastructure is another key element to net zero success. Dominic Falcao, Founder of Deep Science Ventures, rightly pointed out that we don’t just need to scale existing tech – we also need to integrate it. Existing infrastructures were built for fossil fuels, and so there needs to be a collective effort to rebuild and remodel how the world works.
For lasting change to occur, public support and buy-in is essential. Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, reinforced the role that consumer behaviour plays in the adoption of greentech. We have all played a part in impacting the global environment and we all have to take responsibility.
We know that the journey to net zero will be demanding and, for us, this event and growth programme are just the beginning. The brilliance of the speakers we heard from yesterday has given us a renewed confidence that tech will play a key role in aiding a green recovery and building a sustainable future for generations to come.
These innovative companies have long-term goals of reducing our carbon footprint – far longer than the goals we would usually think of when helping startups and scaleups to grow. We have to be prepared to back them for years to come. And, through our Net Zero programme, that starts right now.
The (E)Mission Net Zero event was produced in collaboration with our Headline Partners BNP Paribas UK