The devastating effects of climate change are undeniable. We’ve all witnessed heartbreaking viral news: a starving polar bear, whales washing up on shores with car parts in their stomachs, the deadliest wildfires in California history, and the worst tornadoes in Alabama in 30 years. The United Nations panel on climate change warned the world of irreversible climate impact as early as 2030. Despite mounds of irrefutable evidence and the consistent toll on humanity, wildlife, and the environment, world leaders resist implementing urgent and transformative change in favor of economic growth. Thus, it is imperative that corporations, individuals, organizations, and local communities band together and drive grassroots change.
Technology startups are founded by entrepreneurs passionate about solving problems in their daily lives and in the world around them, and there is no shortage of startups who have jumped in to do their part in the global fight against climate change.
According to a revealing CNN report, the leading causes of climate change are electricity and heat production, transportation, and manufacturing and construction.
Leading Startups Doing Their Part to Fight Climate Change
Startups are tackling both the upstream causation of climate change as well as the downstream effects. Here are 24 innovative startups leading the charge across transportation, agriculture, and waste management.
Transportation is shifting. Key trends combating climate change in transportation include increased adoption of electric vehicles and infrastructure, ride-sharing, and launching mass easeful adoption of environment-friendly bikes and scooters.
Changing the way we move: electric vehicle (EV) startups to watch
- Weltmeister: One of the few EV companies targeting the mainstream (vs luxury) market with a well-designed, 100% electric vehicle, Shanghai-based Weltmeister is positioned to lead the charge. It has raised an impressive $1 Billion and is led by a former Volvo executive, Freemen Shen.
- ChargePoint: This electric vehicle charging infrastructure startup operates the world’s largest and most open EV charging network. Based in California, ChargePoint has raised over $500MM from top automotive brands such as Daimler and BMW.
Hail away: top ride-sharing startups steal markets from Uber
- Bolt (formerly Taxify): Estonia-originated ride-sharing company rapidly expanded in Europe and Africa and is challenging Uber in those markets with $170MM in funding.
- Didi Chuxing: Backed by Chinese giant TenCent and having acquired Uber’s China unit, the company known as “China’s Uber” is valued at a whopping $56B, making it the 3rd most valuable startup in the world.
Urban transportation domination: which startups will win the bike-share wars?
- Mobike: The Shanghai-based startup emerged as the winner of the China bike-sharing market while rival Ofo is on the verge of bankruptcy. Mobike exited successfully via a $2.7B acquisition by Chinese super app service Meituan-Dianping.
- Lime (formerly Limebike): As the bike-sharing market becomes increasingly saturated, California-based Lime is differentiating itself by phasing out its signature electric bikes in favor of electric scooters.
The top ways to combat climate change within agriculture include reducing meat consumption, specifically from beef cattle to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, leveraging technology to reduce excessive land and vehicle dependencies, and optimizing water transportation and usage.
Tastes like meat: top plant-based or lab-grown meats
- Impossible Foods: Along with Beyond Meat, Just, and Terramino Foods, this Bill Gates-backed, California-based startup is the most recognized brand in plant-based meat and is already in numerous restaurants, including popular chains such as the Counter, Umami Burger, and Dave and Busters.
- Mosa Meat: Along with Memphis Meats, Aleph Farms, and Finless Foods, this Netherlands-based company is leading the way in lab-grown meats made from animal cells, significantly reducing land and soil depletion, methane emissions, and often inhumane practices caused by traditional cattle raising.
Smart farming: technology startups optimizing farming resource allocation
- Bowery Farming: The leader in urban farming, this New York-based startup backed by GV (Google Ventures) builds warehouse farms that use proprietary computer software, LED lighting, and robotics to grow leafy greens without pesticides and with 95% less water than traditional agriculture.
- TerrAvion: This California-based technology company uses aerial imagery along with heat and soil maps to identify problem areas across expansive farms and efficiently deploy targeted solutions.
Slow the flow: startups in water usage optimization
- AquaSpy: Based in Australia, this water technology startup provides a soil-monitoring system that measures moisture, temperature, and electrical conductivity. This tells farmers specifically where to apply fertilizer and improves crop yields of up to 40%!
- PowWow Energy: Another California-based startup turns existing smart energy meters into water flow meters that detect anomalies in water irrigation patterns to reduce waste. It also helps with tracking, monitoring, and reporting for regulatory compliance.
Landfill & Oceanic Waste
Waste in landfills and our oceans are primarily managed through reducing the initial production and then during the reuse/recycle and clean-up processes. Major contributors to environmental waste come from single-use plastics, textiles/clothing, and food waste.
Waste creation: innovative startups turning trash to treasure
- Everlane: This young fashion startup uses recycled water bottles to make its stylish Renew line. Committed to having no new plastics in their supply chain by 2021, Everlane is focused on replacing all synthetic fabrics with renewed materials, replacing all virgin plastic poly bags with renewed versions, and eliminating all single-use plastics in their offices.
- Bakey’s: India-based Bakey’s launched a Kickstarter (raising about $600K) to create edible, fully degradable vegan cutlery made from rice. Since September 2016, the company has produced and sold 2.25 million edible spoons and forks.
Waste reduction and cleanup: startups focused on ridding the planet’s waste
- The Great Bubble Barrier: This Dutch startup won The Green Challenge, one of the world’s largest competitions for sustainability entrepreneurs. Their ingenious solution produces a wall of air bubbles rising in the ocean to redirect plastic waste to the side of the ocean while still allowing marine life and ships to pass through.
- Olio: A simple yet effective concept, this app allows communities, businesses, and stores to share their food to reduce food waste. Downloaded 180,000 times, Olio has closed a $6M Series A round led by Octopus Ventures.
Waste management: startups focused on efficient and optimal waste processing
- Rubicon Global: The first ever tech unicorn in the garbage industry, dubbed “Uber for Trash” and backed by Marc Benioff, Rubicon is taking on industry behemoth Waste Management by providing businesses with an affordable on-demand trash-hauling service. Its model incentivizes businesses to reduce waste management costs and divert trash out of landfills.
- ZenRobotics: Based in Helsinki, ZenRobotics is the leading waste-sorting robot that can sort a wide range of waste types and objects, reducing the need for waste and recycling centers to pre-process waste, which is costly and increases processing lead time.
Reshape Business Impact on Climate Change
Climate change is an urgent and deadly challenge affecting all living beings. As evidenced above, numerous innovative startups passionate about affecting change are embodying the growing consumer demand to fight climate change. Thankfully, leading corporations have tremendous influence and impact to reduce key drivers contributing to climate change, whether it’s through their raw materials procurement, supply chain inputs, vendor selection, or influence on customers and consumers’ preferences. Pairing corporations’ scale and influence with the passion, ingenuity, and technology of these startups, solutions reversing climate change can be created and enacted at scale.
RocketSpace is equally passionate about using the power of technology to better businesses and our planet. We are a leading technology innovation consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and London, and we have been curating partnerships between Fortune 1000 companies and leading technology startups since 2011. Through our Industry Collaborative programs such as our TERRA Food and Ag Accelerator, or our Mobility Tech Innovation Collaborative, we work towards a cleaner, more sustainable future by leveraging the power of emerging technology. Or, allow us to run a private engagement that is customized to solving your most imminent business challenges today. Set up a call with one of our experts to learn more.