Climate change pushed to the forefront by Covid-19
"Covid-19 has directed corporations towards being more prepared for climate change, and that means coming up with the climate tech solutions that we need," Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Lab
"What we've seen since the pandemic began is a doubling-down on commitments towards sustainability, towards climate action and we didn't necessarily expect that. We thought people might get distracted, but we're seeing large corporations saying: 'No, this is even more important now, because we're understanding what it is that we are not prepared to handle, with this Covid-19 outbreak’. So I think it's really almost a reckoning, an understanding that we need to have more resilient systems and solutions, and so if anything, I'd say that Covid-19 has directed corporations towards being more prepared for climate change, and that means coming up with the climate tech solutions that we need, and supporting those solutions to get to market scale," Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Lab, said during Calcalist and ESIL Technologies’ Sustainability and Innovation Week.
Reichert said that Greentown Labs is the biggest climate tech incubator in North America and has supported over 280 companies that have raised $850 million and created 65,000 jobs. The main parameter the incubator uses in accepting companies is whether they provide solutions for global challenges in climate change.
"We really have first and foremost an industry-focused filter. As I mentioned, the largest greenhouse gas emitting sectors are the areas that we are looking for solutions to connect with our partners, and as well to connect with our network of investors. We do not invest ourselves, we are a mission-based organization, and so we work with a network of about 500 investors who are actively investing in the climate tech space," explained Reichert. "In terms of our process of bringing companies in, we are looking for not only then their industry focus, but also their team. It is very important for an organization like ours to promote and support teams that are going to be a strong part of a broader community of entrepreneurs. And so we're looking for companies who are going to both give and take from that community, companies that are going to be able to support other peers, who are interested in being part of a broader ecosystem, who are all addressing the climate challenge in different ways. So I'd say the industry focus, the team being important, and interest in community, and then of course we're looking at their business plan, and as well the probability that they will be successful. And when we think about one key factor for success, we're typically looking for them to have already raised some funding from an outside source, which provides an important validation before they get to us."
Reichert explained why Greentown Labs collaborates with corporations that pollute at a wide scale.
"We're delighted to have a number of partners working in all aspects of the energy sector, and the other sectors that I mentioned, that big greenhouse gas emissions sector areas that we focus on. So we work with companies in the building sector, electricity sector, utilities, and then also with companies that are the current incumbents in the energy sector, so those would be typically known as oil and gas energy companies," said Reichert. "How we think about the problem is really that it is a gigatonne-sized problem, and we need gigatonne-sized partners, and those who can scale solutions of that size, are used to working at that scale, to be part of the solution. And so, our thinking is that these companies, large companies, are typically going to be the partners for these startups to get this new innovative climate technology to scale where it can make a difference. So we actually think it's very important to work with them, rather than against them if we're going to address climate change in the time that we need to address this challenge."