Techstars Launches the Sustainability Challenge
Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, is now accepting entries for the Techstars Sustainability Challenge from anyone with ideas for how to reduce the significant toll global supply chains have on the environment. Winners will be showcased at the first Techstars Sustainability Summit in April, and at least one will have the opportunity to develop a proof-of-concept with a Techstars Sustainability Challenge Program Partner. Techstars Pathfinder members and Challenge Partners for this effort are: ABN AMRO, Cargill, Comcast NBCUNIVERSAL LIFT LABS, EG, Endeavor, Equinor, Princeton University through Princeton Innovation and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Semapa NEXT investment company, Stanley Black & Decker, The Heritage Group, The Nature Conservancy, Temasek and World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA).
The Techstars Sustainability Challenge is designed to accelerate efforts to develop new products, solutions and processes that will improve supply chain operations. Techstars and its Challenge Partners see collaborative efforts like this as critical to reducing the negative environmental impacts of supply chains and creating efficiencies that will drive long-term positive impacts for industries, markets and people around the world.
“A massive challenge in sustainability today is improving operations of the global economy’s complex supply chains to be more efficient and environmentally friendly. It’s difficult for companies to get insights into their overall footprint and the operations of their suppliers, and ultimately alter behaviors and systems,” says Cody Simms, SVP of Investments and leader of Techstars’ global sustainability programs. “Through the Techstars Sustainability Challenge, we are putting out the call to entrepreneurs, tech startups, researchers, NGOs and corporate innovators to help us find and scale solutions to one of the world’s most urgent sustainability problems. We are looking for innovators who can help build a more sustainable supply chain through their work on the measurement and management of supply chain impacts.”
Innovators will submit their entries to one of two specific areas:
- Data & Automation: Solutions to help companies use automation, internal data collection, or more accurate inferences of external data sources to better measure, trace, and track the impact of their supply chain footprints.
- Materials & End-of-life Impact: Enable a manufacturer to reduce the impact of a product’s footprint through new materials innovations, either natural or synthetic. Solutions can range from limiting the extractive process for obtaining the raw materials, extending product lifespan, or mitigating the product’s end-of-life impact on the environment.
A panel of sustainability experts from Techstars along with Challenge Partners will judge all submissions on three criteria: problem-solution fit; scale of the solution’s potential impact; and the ability to implement a proof-of-concept with an enterprise organization.
- November 16, 2020: Applications open
- March 8, 2021: Applications close
- March 25, 2021: Finalists notified
- April 1, 2021: Proof-of-Concept (POC) Working Session (virtual) - Finalists will deliver their pitches to judges, receive formal introductions to relevant corporate business units, and participate in matchmaking workshops with Founding Partners to brainstorm proof-of-concept and pilot concepts.
- April 15, 2021: Techstars Sustainability Summit Event (virtual) - Winners announced. At least one winner will have the opportunity to run a proof-of-concept with one of our Challenge Partners.
“The goal is actionable impact,” adds Simms. “The winners’ journey with Techstars won’t end in a competitive victory. We will partner them with mentors from our global participating partner network so they can immediately begin working on building out real-world solutions that will affect meaningful change.”
Building a Strong Network of Mentors and Investors
Techstars Pathfinder Membership matches corporate innovators with exactly the right startups who can turn innovative ideas into business opportunities and open new revenue streams. The ultimate goal is to speed corporate innovators to action. That can mean establishing partnerships, building proofs of concept, identifying and seizing investment opportunities, or acquiring teams, technologies and/or customers.
The Techstars Sustainability Challenge is the anchor project for bringing together a group of members in 2020 to drive real progress toward a more sustainable world.
The Techstars worldwide network helps entrepreneurs succeed. Founded in 2006, Techstars began with three simple ideas — entrepreneurs create a better future for everyone, collaboration drives innovation, and great ideas can come from anywhere. Now we are on a mission to enable every person on the planet to contribute to, and benefit from, the success of entrepreneurs. In addition to operating accelerator programs and venture capital funds, we do this by connecting startups, investors, corporations, and cities to help build thriving startup communities. Techstars has invested in more than 2,200 companies that today have a combined market cap valuation of more than $30 Billion. www.techstars.com
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