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How 5 start-ups help to tackle the climate crisis

Creative and disruptive ideas from start-ups are our high hopes when it comes to winning the race to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Munich Re and ERGO are currently supporting five start-ups as part of the Climate-KIC accelerator that are active in the field of carbon removal, where they are making an important contribution against global warming. In an interview series with next columnist Markus Sekulla we will present the 5 young companies with big ambitions in the upcoming weeks: NeoCarbon, Reverse Carbon, Silicate, Treeconomy and Ucaneo Biotech.

The Twitter account in my feed to which the predicate “bittersweet” most applies is “What a week, uh? Captain it's Wednesday - every Wednesday.” An account that posts nothing more, but the same Tintin photo every Wednesday. What started as a small idea now gets a lot of interactions and can even be seen as a small market research. The “worse” the events of the week, the more hearts the midweek post gets. With all the current crises in the world, you want to say, “What a yeah, uh? Captain it's September!”.

Especially the effects of the climate crisis are becoming more and more noticeable. Even my neighbour, who I don't know at all and from whom I sometimes overhear snippets of conversation said to an acquaintance the other day, “I'm definitely not a tree-hugger, but there's a connection between the heat and climate change.” Well, I think so too. But there is reason to hope!

Carbon Removal: Taking Greenhouse Gases out of the Air

For me, a source of hope are conversations with start-up founders who are completely dedicated to their purpose of making the world a little better and being part of the solution and not part of the problem. Hhope is rising in me that the climate crisis can be overcome after all. In Bill Gates' book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need” the Microsoft founder and philanthropist describes that the great challenge of our time is (to put it simply) to take the heat-trapping greenhouse gases out of the air.

Bill is not the only one who knows that very well. EIT Climate-KIC has responded with Europe’s first dedicated CDR accelerator, delivered in partnership with Munich Re and ERGO, as well as Delft University of Technology, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and Pannon Pro Innovations. In this year Munich Re and ERGO have again selected five promising climate entrepreneurs to support in the second stage of the Carbon Removal ClimAccelerator.


Start of an interview series

Reason enough for us to try to win these start-ups for an interview-series on next. In the next five weeks we will interview all five start-ups and share their thoughts in a weekly series with our //next readers.

To give you a little appetiser: 

The team at Ucaneo Biotech has developed the world’s first cell-free Direct Air Capture technology leveraging a biocatalytic membrane to capture CO2 from the air.  

Treeconomy uses high-resolution remote sensing and machine learning to quantify and track CO2 storage in woodlands to a higher degree of accuracy than is available today

By accelerating a natural geological process – the weathering of Silicate minerals – Silicate removes excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it over geological timescales.

Reverse Carbon converts biomass residues into stable and carbon-rich biochar and then buries it deep underground in closed mining sites and establishes a vegetative cover.

NeoCarbon uses existing infrastructure in the form of cooling towers to perform Direct Air Capture (DAC) up to 10 times cheaper and faster, making DAC mass-market ready.

All founder’s had one thing in common. The kind of creative start-up esprit that inspires us. In our conversations, and I asked them questions about this serious topic and got fresh perspectives on how to solve the climate problem of our times. For instance, I asked them whether the climate crisis can be tackled at all? How they came up with their ideas? Plus, what their tips are for us as individuals who want to do something about global warming today.

The answers will be available here on next in the coming weeks. As always, we welcome feedback from our readers.

https://www.ucaneo.com/

https://www.treeconomy.co/

https://www.silicatecarbon.com/

https://www.neocarbon.tech/

https://www.reversecarbon.com/

Text: Markus Sekulla

Hier geht es zur deutschen Version dieses Textes: Wie 5 Start-ups helfen, die Klimakrise zu bewältigen