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The global 1st Ranking of Climate Adaptation StartUps (monthly)

“You destroy my hope, that we still can save the planet” - I often hear this outcry when advocating for more Climate Change Adaptation. Many focus solely on decarbonization, ignoring the big adapation need (see UN Environment Programme Adaptation Gap Report 2023). However, alongside the green tech investment frenzy, there's a significant “$2 trillion” opportunity in adaptation for the private sector, as the World Economic Forum stated.

Alright, let's talk about hope:

·   Do you love innovation?

·   Are you passionate about technology?

·   Do you aspire to save not just the planet, but also humanity now?

In a world increasingly affected by the rapidly changing climate, the innovative power of startups will be crucial. While climate adaptation is slowly gaining public attention, various progressive technologies are emerging.

Here's the news: I'm thrilled to introduce a monthly TOP5 ranking of Climate Adaptation Startups, offering solutions for a hotter, drier, wetter, or windier climate. Researching globally, I welcome your experiences and tips – if your suggestions make it into the TOP5, I will acknowledge them.

Ranking Structure: Each month, I'll focus on a specific climate threat, beginning in January '24 with Heat, followed by Drought in February, Flood in March, and Storm in April, etc. The solutions should significantly benefit livelihoods, communities, or individuals in becoming more resilient against climate change. There's no public consensus yet on measuring adaptation success – my startup selection will contribute to this need, too. Today's introduction covers all climate threats, providing a broader initial perspective. By year's end, there will be a final vote for the 2024 Climate Adaptation Startup of the Year.

Let's delve into the exciting world of climate adaptation startups, building resilience and hope in anticipation of a >3°C world we face.

1. SolCold (Heat)

When I first encountered this Israeli startup and its innovation, I was astounded. A nano-technology capable of cooling up to 11 degrees without any energy consumption! The more intense the sun, the stronger the cooling effect (“We make the sun cold” they say). This is achieved with just a thin piece of fabric. SolCold's tarpaulin boasts impressive features:

·   Reflects 98.5% of solar radiation

·   Converts heat into visible light

·   Releases heat through radiative cooling

Particularly tested on cars to keep them cool in summer, SolCold has already demonstrated its product's effectiveness in various projects, with much more potential for future cooling.

The two most significant climate-related challenges in cities are severe air pollution and intense heat during temperature spikes. Green City Solutions, a German startup, caught my attention with its nature-based solution. It offers a moss-based air filter tower that can lower temperatures by up to 4°C while significantly improving air quality. This super-power innovation reminded me of “Moss Man” – perhaps a nod to my 80s childhood. Their goal is to provide cleaner air to 500 million people by 2030. Best of luck to them.

Agriculture, heavily impacted by climate change, faces challenges from extreme weather like heat and drought, affecting crop yields. Seeds adaptable to these changes are crucial. Ginkgo, a U.S.-based biotech startup, harnesses DNA programming to develop seeds resistant to extreme weather. Their work also extends to researching new medicines for a changing environment. Their claim, “you can grow anything,” is bold, even hinting at dinosaurs.

4. Ecogrid (Flood)

Climate change brings dangerously rising precipitation in some areas, often causing floods where human settlements have sealed surfaces. EcoGrid, although not a startup anymore after 20 years in business, is growing rapidly and fits this list. Based in the UK with German production, EcoGrid offers a permeable paving solution that prevents ground compression and reduces flooding by allowing rainwater to infiltrate the ground. Made from recycled plastics, it's eco-friendly, durable, and suitable for heavy loads, ideal for sustainable, flood-resistant urban and parking area development. EcoGrid demonstrates that even a “low-tech” solution can make a significant impact.

Severe storms have increasingly damaged infrastructure and property. From 2020-22, there were about three times more $1bn damage events compared to the period since 1980 (source: NOAA). A simple yet effective resilience measure is enhancing building stability through robust construction materials. This led me to select CarbonCure an US-based company, whose technology strengthens concrete, making it more storm-resistant. The company licenses this technology to industry manufacturers. And by the way, the technology, retrofitted into concrete plants, enables concrete producers to inject captured CO₂ into fresh concrete during mixing. It´s mission: Saving 500m tonnes annually (here you go, even a decarbonization benefit for extra-hope).


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