Today, the Harvard Innovation Labs introduced the inaugural participants selected for the university innovation center’s Harvard Climate Entrepreneurs Circle, a selective incubation program for high-potential ventures working to address climate change. The program is spearheaded by the Harvard Innovation Labs and the Harvard Alumni for Climate and the Environment (HACE), a 1,200-member strong community, with expertise from HBS’s Business and Environment Initiative (BEI). The university innovation center also announced a new season of the Climate Rising podcast focused on climate entrepreneurship, produced with HBS’s BEI.
Introducing the inaugural Harvard Climate Entrepreneurs Circle
The Harvard Innovation Labs is cultivating the next generation of climate entrepreneurs who are actively uncovering new, unexpected ways to take on climate change. Kicking off a cohort that combines Harvard students and alumni learning from each other, the Climate Circle includes ventures that span the globe: from Indonesia to Uganda, South Africa to the Midwestern U.S., Austria to Boston.
“The most powerful solutions to our climate crisis often lie in unexpected places where a new approach can change our default ways of doing things,” said Rebekah Emanuel, director of social entrepreneurship at the Harvard Innovation Labs. “Whether in forest management, heating and cooling, or financing, entrepreneurs are the ones who make these solutions part of our daily routines. Our hope is that the ventures in the Harvard Climate Entrepreneurs Circle will lead society to a lower-carbon future. We want to look back and say, ‘All these changes that seem normal now, once were hardly imaginable. But now they are just how we do things. And they came from this unique circle of folks exchanging ideas and tips.’”
Climate Circle participants will have access to world-class coaching, legal counsel, warm connections to industry leaders, and a peer group of ventures that are all working on innovative solutions to tackle climate change. During the nine-month program, the Harvard Innovation Labs advising team will support Climate Circle ventures through one-on-one meetings tailored to their individual goals, as well as workshops on relevant topics. The Harvard Center on Negotiation and Mediation will also support ventures with tailored negotiation advice. Additionally, the Harvard Innovation Labs advising team will connect Climate Circle ventures to a global network of experts on a range of climate and startup topics. Many of the climate experts are active members of the HACE community.
The 16 ventures in the inaugural 2021–2022 Climate Circle include:
Anuel Energy, Inc: A business-to-business solar financing platform launched in Uganda connecting last-mile deals to retailers and financiers.
Atlas Metrics: A platform for businesses to collect, manage, and report environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data in compliance with the world’s leading impact standards.
Elio: Building a modern climate change data platform that remains as up-to-date as social media, in order to power climate action built on tight data feedback loops.
Empowered Homes: For South Africans facing increasing blackouts and rising electricity costs due to a constrained majority coal-fired power grid, Empowered Homes provides easy access to renewable energy solutions by recommending the best energy mix (centered on solar and storage), managing the installation process, and providing on-going energy insights.
Gaia AI: Using drones, automation, and artificial intelligence to regenerate and monitor forests at scale.
Goo, Inc.: Addressing the excessive waste and non-biodegradability of filaments in 3D printing by creating high performance, marine biodegradable filament, and developing a closed-loop solution that “upcycles” existing filament to enhance its quality and biodegradability.
Metafin: For Indian retail customers who want to install cleantech solutions but lack the upfront capital, Metafin provides rapid financing decisions and works with partners to systematically minimize installation and operational risk. Metafin is India’s first licensed non-banking financial company (NBFC) focused on solving the upfront capital problem for retail customers who have been hindering the adoption of cleantech in India.
Metric: Data analytics software to help private market investors measure their portfolio’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance.
Onvector: Increasing the energy efficiency of industrial wastewater treatment by as much as 97% and displacing incineration of sludges with electrification, Onvector provides plasma water treatment technology to reduce cost and enable beneficial reuse of high-strength wastewater streams.
Poplar Energy Storage: For grids trying to transition to renewables but blocked by intermittent energy supply, Popular Energy Storage is developing long-duration, grid-scale energy storage systems in the form of compressed nitrogen in underground porous rock reservoirs.
Quintessence Marine: Creating consumer markets to drive removal of the invasive and destructive lionfish for use as both high-end food and luxurious leather for fashion brands. Removing lionfish protects 80% of all life in coral reefs and directly displaces cow products and their emissions.
Shelly Xu Design (SXD): A design-tech startup pioneering an industry transformation that works for our bodies and our planet. Shelly Xu Design creates and intelligently scales 100% zero waste clothing designs that look better and cost less to produce.
Siklus Refill: Provides Indonesians a more affordable alternative to household goods sold in plastic packaging by delivering refills of everyday products to the door, eliminating plastic waste at the source.
SubjectToClimate: A not-for-profit, online connector for K-12 teachers of all subjects to find credible and engaging materials on climate change.
Suyana Climate insurance: Providing insurance against climatic risks in developing countries, Suyana works where information is limited, deploying climate and data science to bridge the gap.
ThermoTerra: Developing an energy-saving technology for cooling and heating. Verified in thermal simulation and lab scale experiments, ThermoTerra’s technology uses ambient humidity fluctuation to fuel a substantial part of the heating and cooling of buildings.
Announcing a new season of Climate Rising focused exclusively on entrepreneurship
Climate Rising features innovators who are leading businesses that address the unprecedented challenges that climate change poses to business and society. Hosted by Harvard Innovation Labs Director of Social Entrepreneurship Rebekah Emanuel, Season 3 showcases the stories of innovators who are bringing decades of experience in their effort to tackle climate change successfully and profitably.
This season of Climate Rising focuses on the unanticipated places from which climate solutions originate—ranging from investing in cemeteries, to new ways to draw carbon from the air to unusual applications of known technology that reduce our carbon footprint, to using mushrooms to replace cow leather. CEOs from around the world discuss the unexpected business opportunities found in actively addressing climate change.
The eight episodes in Season 3 include:
- Investing in No-Sacrifice Models for Climate: Nancy Pfund from DBL Partners outlines how she finds and invests in unusual places that address climate change and produce a profit.
- Bringing Money at Scale to Climate Game-Changers: David Crane shares how and why he launched the Climate Real Impact Solutions SPAC, and why SPACs can be a paradigm-shifter specifically in climate.
- Using Mushrooms to Replace Cow Leather for a Better Climate: Matt Scullin, CEO of MycoWorks, tells us how he is working with top brands to develop a whole new luxury leather.
- Ensuring a Resilient Future: Shalini Vajjhala and Jamie Rhodes from re:focus partners share how to build beautiful infrastructure solutions that protect our communities from weather disasters before disaster strikes.
- Critical Climate Infrastructure: Scott Jacobs, founder of Generate Capital, shares how he uses known, existing technologies to change the game on climate.
- Electrifying Mass Mobility: Uday Khemka, SUN Mobility, discusses building shared electric vehicles for the middle class.
- Investment Management for the Carbon Potential of Forests: David Brand, CEO of New Forests, highlights profitable strategies for how the forestry industry can go from a producing carbon to capturing it.
- Making a Marketplace for Captured Carbon: Steve Oldham, CEO of Carbon Engineering, describes extracting carbon from the air… and getting paid to store it.