The launch of the Sustainable Innovation Programme initiated by Swedbank was announced yesterday at the sustainable innovation and technology centre Rockit. The aim is to help early-stage start-ups to develop their ideas and turn them into solutions for sustainable business change. The programme has selected 16 start-ups developing products or services in the industry, transport, energy, real estate and other business sectors.
"Today, climate change is one of the most significant long-term global risks, and the key solution is to minimise greenhouse gas emissions from economic activities. Businesses are under intense pressure everywhere - from conscious consumers, employees, regulators and financiers. The EU-wide Taxonomy Regulation, the Sustainability Reporting Directive and other requirements are about to come into force, and the financial sector is obliged to redirect capital flows towards more sustainable areas. Therefore, companies that want to remain competitive and secure long-term success must change their business models and look for sustainable solutions. These changes are not possible without innovation", - says Remy Salters, Chief Financial Officer of Swedbank and member of the Board.
He said that more collaboration with the start-up community could help businesses to innovate and achieve sustainability goals faster.
"Large companies are very complex, and it is difficult to make rapid changes and redesign processes that are often interconnected. On the other hand, start-ups are used to speed, higher risk, and experimentation and can offer an outside view, a new perspective. So combining this with the ability of large companies to see the context, forecast, plan and understand the market's needs can deliver the best result," - comments R. Salters.
This is one of the reasons why Swedbank initiated a sustainable innovation programme for start-ups. "One of our goals is to contribute to sustainable change in business and society, and we hope that this programme will pave the way for new partnerships in the future that create innovative business models," said Remy Salters, Chief Financial Officer of Swedbank and member of the Board.
According to Lina Žemaitytė-Kirkman, Head of the Rockit start-up space, the growing focus on sustainability is also a unique opportunity for start-ups developing sustainable innovations.
"It is estimated that between 5 and 7 trillion USD will be needed annually to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations by 2030. This is a perfect illustration of the vast opportunities for sustainability innovators. It is no coincidence that we are witnessing a growing number of sustainability start-ups worldwide," says L. Žemaitytė-Kirkman. - Sustainability is increasingly becoming a strategic goal for companies. Businesses are measuring their environmental impact, setting CO2 reduction targets, and looking for solutions to help them achieve these goals. Start-ups that innovate for sustainable change are becoming relevant partners for business.
Six months Swedbank's Sustainable Innovation Programme selected 16 start-ups with a product idea based on sustainability principles. The start-ups participating in the programme include "Viridis Sustainability" and "hold.earth", which offer a service for measuring or offsetting pollution footprints; "Luna", "Stuart Energy", and "LightMirror", which are active in the field of energy efficiency; "Hikos", "Priepat", and "Magic broth", which are agri-food innovation start-ups; "Market Trend Valuation Center", "Pingin", and "Strato AI", which are in the field of real estate; and "Viezo", which focuses on the transport sector. The largest group of start-ups is in the circular economy, with "Zerozon", "Ecogrant", "CupCup", "Kulagen", and a concept-level packaging sorting start-up developing solutions.
Over the next three months, the start-ups will develop their solutions with the help of mentors participating in the programme. Those selected for the second phase of the Sustainable Innovation Programme will then have the opportunity to test them in a real business environment.