Discussing Climate Impact Metrics and Startup Piloting Opportunities at the Navigate Partners Summit

On April 6, Navigate brought together startup incubators, accelerators, corporates, and other supporting pillars of cleantech startups to examine the current needs and opportunities to combat climate change and accelerate cleantech innovation. During this virtual Navigate Partners Summit, innovators discussed topics including calculating emissions reduction potential of technologies and funding resources for startups.  

The Summit began with a panel on Climate Change & Climate Impact Metrics, moderated by Tyler Hamilton of MaRS. The panel discussed the needs and obstacles of regulating emissions and reducing climate impacts. Virginia Covo of AB InBev, a multinational drink and brewing company based in Belgium, explained the complexity of regulating emissions and obtaining data throughout their brewing and distribution process. The collection of emission data from the supply chain and transportation is falling short, explained Suzanne Green from MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. Jennifer Wagner of CarbonCure, a company that uses recycled CO2 to improve the manufacturing process of concrete, chimed in on how the cement industry, comprising 5-7% of global carbon emissions, is starting to improve its methodology in tracking carbon emissions due to external pressures.

The calculation of emissions, particularly emission projections for the longer term, is especially difficult for early-stage and new technologies. To solve this problem and understand the potential impact of new technologies, CRANE was created, explained Josh Browne. CRANE, a free tool released this April, assesses the emissions reduction potential of climate technologies, allowing investors, entrepreneurs, and others to obtain reproducible, objective data.

The second panel switched topics to focus on piloting opportunities in the US and internationally. Moderated by Nikhil Gargeya of Activate, the panelists from Schneider Electric, EDP, IKEA, and Iberdrola, elaborated on their pilot opportunities, most of which generally support technologies that are ready to be tested as opposed to first-mover-advantage. 

Carla Pimenta of EDP, which shoulders 45 pilot projects a year, emphasized that if a startup’s technology is not ready to be tested, EDP will wait for the technology to develop. “It is better to wait then rush and do it the wrong way,” she said. Samir Karoum of Schneider Electric explained how big companies like Schneider have the time to develop long-lasting relationships with early-stage startups not yet ready for a pilot. EDP, Schneider, and Iberdrola are also continually looking for innovative ideas and trends, though not all of them may be ready for testing. Exciting trends that stood out to these corporates include technologies related to remote services, digitization and automation, and electrification of heating.

These influential and powerful cleantech organizations brought together by the Navigate Partners Summit possess a ceaseless and augmenting effort in combating climate change. Though the pandemic might be a current hindrance, these companies have displayed that they do not forget the long term threats. The more we come together, learn from one another, and spread our determination, the more we help.

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Delilah Fairclough-Stewart

Delilah is NECEC's Navigate Intern.