3 + 1 key takeaways from Cleantech Venture Day

Opinion 17.06.2019

Cleantech Venture Day shone light on dozens of trailblazing cleantech startups. We navigated through the official World Circular Economy Forum side event and made three main observations on the current cleantech scene.

1. Circular economy is a treasure trove for startups.

Cleantech Venture Day highlighted the ever-increasing transition from linearity to circularity. The Circular Economy pitch track introduced us to five forward-looking startups whose business ideas range from biochar to low-threshold item sharing. In fact, sharing economy is a fruitful platform for environmentally sound businesses. One of the startups that pitched at CVD was Stuffstr, who partners with retailers to buy back everything customers are done using. The business model seems to be working: In 2018, the social enterprise had 100% customer satisfaction in a pilot project with department store John Lewis.

2. Everything is a service.

Mobility, packaging, outerwear? There’s a service for that. As demonstrated during Cleantech Venture Day, a big trend in circular economy and cleantech is anything that ends with -aaS. One of the event’s many themed sessions was the Smart Mobility track that included pitches from five startups. These companies develop data-driven, sustainable mobility services. Ekorent’s Nopia Ride, for instance, is a service that offers electric car rides in Nairobi, Kenya, through a smartphone app. The company aims to have the cars rely on local renewable energy in the near future.

3. It’s high time we embrace ecosystems.

There’s strength in numbers, especially when it comes to turning current wicked problems into sustainable business. More and more people seem to be advocating business ecosystems, forms of collaboration between, for example, companies, cities, and universities. However, Europe is still quite far from fully embracing them. To quote keynote speaker Antti Rantanen, Founder of Avanto Ventures: “Europe has fallen behind in the leading smart mobility markets because there simply aren’t enough ecosystems or permanent test beds”. To help the continent catch up, Rantanen works on the Mobility City Campus in Rotterdam. It’s a collaboration platform for different actors in the mobility industry to come up with innovative new businesses.

+ People sure love the Netherlands.

The Netherlands seems to be everyone’s favorite benchmark country. We heard about the country’s circular economy and cleantech prowess in keynotes, pitches, and panels during the two days in Finlandia Hall. In fact, we ourselves mentioned Amsterdam as a city to look up to in our recent post on cities as motors for circular economy. The Netherlands strives to maintain its status as a sustainability pioneer: Amsterdam boldly aims to be 100% circular by 2025.