In the conservation world, we’re always looking for new ways to scale up our work. Lately, some of our best ideas have come from the private sector. One especially promising strategy we’re borrowing from business is early-stage investing in technology start-ups.
Last week I was excited to participate in the official launch of a program that’s putting this strategy to the test—the Techstars Sustainability Accelerator. The Accelerator aims to scale up start-ups with disruptive, commercially viable technologies that can help solve the world’s food, water and climate challenges.
Here’s how it works. Investors created an equity fund for the program, which provided seed funding for ten entrepreneurs with the most promising ideas for sustainability technology. The entrepreneurs are now participating in an intense 3-month program designed to help them grow their business. At the end of the program, they’ll participate in a “demo day” to showcase their technologies to potential investors for subsequent funding rounds.
The 2018 Accelerator class is now up and running, and it’s an impressive group:
It’s encouraging to see entrepreneurs increasingly looking for ways to help save the planet. Think about the role that technology has played in transforming entire industries such as finance, healthcare, and transportation. Now imagine those kinds of breakthroughs in addressing pressing environmental and social issues.
At The Nature Conservancy, we’re excited to help advance those breakthroughs by providing the Sustainability Accelerator participants with our conservation know-how. Meanwhile, Techstars will contribute its business and technology mentorship. But the ultimate success of these forward-thinking companies and others like them will depend on the investors and business leaders willing to step up and support their development. That’s where you come in.
Together we can demonstrate that there is a viable market for technology companies focused on solving big global challenges—and the time to invest is now.