September 2, 2022 in Sustainability, Europe

European Sustainability Startups: Cause for Hope in a Year of Extreme Climate Anxiety

The European summer had a certain edge to it this year. For many of us, the usual long and carefree days that we used to anticipate joyfully featured an undercurrent of climate anxiety. Casual conversations about notably hot spells lost their innocence and we gave voice to our concerns that such insufferable conditions - July 2022 saw the UK experience its first-ever extreme heat emergency- may become the norm. 

The 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report forewarned us that climate change would impact regions of the world variably and that Europe’s temperatures would rise relatively faster than elsewhere. Yet its message only really hit home when we began to experience the impacts firsthand.

Even as summer fades to autumn and the threat of extreme heat and forest fires wanes, climate anxiety will likely not follow suit. Droughts across the region are predicted to continue for the rest of the year, and the impact on agricultural food production will be felt long past summer's end.

And if this wasn’t enough, energy supplies for the colder months are already at the forefront of many minds, with frantic efforts underway to mitigate the impact on gas flows and prices of Russia’s Ukraine invasion. The only positive is that the race towards renewables has been given a fresh impetus, tempered by some backsliding. Germany is for example reopening retired coal power plants to generate electricity for the winter, whilst urging citizens and businesses to cut back on usage now.

Most of us are left feeling rather helpless. Government action does not feel rapid enough to avoid the scenarios described by leading climate scientists in books such as Hothouse Earth, and we have a hard time envisaging how individual citizens or even large organisations could make a difference.

At Village Capital we are as keen as everyone affected by climate anxiety to find reason for hope. That is why we count ourselves as privileged, and encouraged, to have convened and supported a number of proactive startups aiming to have large-scale sustainable impacts, fast.

Earlier this year, we launched the GreenTech Europe 2022 program in partnership with VISA Foundation to support entrepreneurs providing greentech solutions for climate change challenges and increase the participation of women in building such solutions. It’s been cathartic to be surrounded by so many driven women-led startup founders, working super hard to create the urgent change we need to be seeing.

Here are three of the companies we have been supporting, with more examples below.

  • HelioRec: Based in France, HelioRec is creating simple, powerful floating solar technology for near shore locations. Its approach is particularly pertinent for Europe where solar energy is one of the most mature renewable energy technologies, but investment costs remain high due to their high land use requirements.
  • Maritime API - A decarbonization platform to monitor, reduce and offset carbon emissions for ships. MaritimeAPI offers software development and subject matter expertise on sustainable products in shipping. Carbon emissions from the shipping industry is an important challenge to crack because the industry is responsible for around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually, which is at least 2.5% of the world's total CO2 emissions.
  • SilviBio: SilviBio provides innovative seed technologies to protect plants from environmental stress and enable higher yields. The droughts in Europe are the worst for 500 years and threaten agricultural food production, with more predicted. Bolstering food production and security will be a focus as we try to mitigate the effects of climate change going forward

Whilst climate anxiety may be unavoidable, these startups and their founders are inspirational and they give us hope that prevents anxiety tipping into despair.

We invite you to join their ranks: Applications for the second and final cohort of the GreenTech Europe 2022 accelerator are currently ongoing. We will accept 15 additional gender-diverse startups to participate in our investment-readiness program, which has $150,000 of grant money. The program will launch in late October 2022 and run until early December.

Learn more about how you can join our latest program here

Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis, through September 12.

Other sustainability-focused startups we have supported in 2022:

  • LAM’ON: LAM’ON develops and produces biodegradable laminating films and clear packaging foils in industry-standard thickness and roll sizes at an affordable price.
  • TechniFris: TechniFris provides a sustainable solution to food loss in the supply chain which is 100% safe for both humans and the environment.
  • Nettle TOC creates bioplastic composites that can be used to replace plastic and are biodegradable and recyclable. 
  • Carbon Saver is using the power of AI to make ecodesign easier.
  • Fregata Space An earth observation platform which discovers pollutants in air and water bodies using machine-learning techniques.
  • PurOceans Technology - A mission to clean up waters and seabeds around the world, using a pioneering solution that performs sophisticated cleaning from oil products and microplastic sediments, using non-invasive air and pressure technology. 


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