3 Startups Making Sustainability Their Business

Sustainable business ideas are not only disrupting the strategy of large corporates, but are also one of the strongest drivers for innovation in the startup world

Written by Theresa Zöckler

3 years ago

One of the core challenges our economic system faces, as identified by decision leaders around the world, is to implement business solutions that address climate change, resource scarcity and social inequality. In 2016, the World Economic Forum in Davos has identified the support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a crucial step for future economies to thrive. Rethinking your business strategy towards sustainable business solutions can help you find a stronger purpose for your organization’s brand and at the same time save costs and satisfy your employees and customers.

Sustainable business ideas are not only disrupting the strategy of large corporates, but are also one of the strongest drivers for innovation in the startup world. Investors are increasingly taking ethical factors into their decisions and a growing number of accelerators are now supporting cleantech start-ups or social businesses ideas. Their purpose goes far beyond making money by addressing a social or environmental cause.

Meet the three Mindspace startups which have the most inspiring and innovative sustainable business models:

NeoTop Water Systems – Saving Fresh Water

Less than 1% of the Earth water is fresh drinkable water, that is not locked underground or in glaciers. These sources of clean water are increasingly stressed under climate change, growing population and agricultural use. Storing water in artificial reservoirs for different economic means has become very common, and especially in remote and dry regions this water again is stressed by high evaporation.

NeoTop, a member at Mindspace Tel Aviv, has taken on this issue and developed a system that prevents water in artificial reservoirs from evaporation.

The company produces the TopUp Ball and a modular system that covers ponds and reservoirs. While it can reduce evaporation up to 90%, it also cools down the water temperature, which reduces algae and keeps the ecosystem in the pond balanced. It is not a surprise that the invention is coming from Israel, a country that suffered and still suffering from water scarcity and at the same time very strong with technological innovations, says Noam Levy, CEO of NeoTop. The company was even awarded the Israeli Prime Minister Award and is growing its business strongly in other areas of the world, especially in Australia, U.S., South America and India.

From an environmental perspective, it is important to note that the NeoTop’s product is not aimed at places that are natural habitats, but focuses on artificial reservoirs especially in remote places that are generally dry and windy causing them to be heavily exposed to evaporation of fresh water.

NeoTop is a great example of a company that has found a strong business case by solving an environmental problem and can be a great inspiration for all future entrepreneurs that want to make a sustainable impact with their business idea.

Pendula – Recycling Online 

In order to provide the resources we consume through our human activity we would currently need 1.6 planets, in western countries with very high consumption patterns. This number can go up to even 5 planets. Most of the resources are turned into tons of waste, while only 14% worldwide is recycled. Therefore, moving towards a circular economy that aims to a higher productivity of resources, the reduction of waste and the use of biodegradable material are the key to address this issue.

While many sectors have improved their workflow and efficiency through digital technologies, the waste and recycling industry is still using outdated methods to communicate with customers.

Screenshot: www.pendula.de

Mindspace-Hamburg member Pendula has developed an online-platform that enables a simple solution for companies to manage their waste, improve resource efficiency and save costs. Gathering this data, the company also helps European policy makers to get a more detailed picture on the amount of waste generated by businesses and can improve regulations based on this.

Pendula is one of the few start ups in Hamburg that are part of the Climate-Kic Accelerator, an EU program that supports clean tech start ups.

Being a member of the Mindspace Hamburg community, Pendula has already kicked off some great ideas on how to elaborate on our waste in Mindspace and we are looking forward to a great cooperation.

I-med Vision – Educating for Health 

Sustainable business innovations are clearly not restricted to environmental issues, they also take on problems in society. While environmental start-ups often find a stronger business case by reducing or replacing resources, social start-ups directly aim at improving standards in society and addressing inequality, diversity or health care. I-med Vision in Mindspace Berlin has started to implement digital technology in the health sector in South Africa.

Despite a comparably good health system, around 80.000 children in South Africa die every year before reaching the age of five. This problem is mainly caused by knowledge gaps and insufficient access to medical treatment in townships.

Dr. Bärbel Reckhard, a pediatrician and Prof. Markus Reckhard, a neurologist, have identified the need for basic education that will decrease infant mortality, and developed an e-learning platform to implement comprehensive medical knowledge systems in the townships. The idea is rooted in their vision to improve development opportunities. The I-Med platform is used by nursery teachers who take care of the children during the day and know their needs very well. They are a far stronger multiplicator than the parents directly. Besides the online training for nursery teachers, the parents and nurses have access to a knowledge platform with all required information. The platform is combined with a telemedicine portal that allows nurses to directly contact specialists for complicated cases.

After an initial pilot phase in 2016, the first run of the complete platform is scheduled for September 2017 in cooperation with the Grootbos Foundation. Working with a local organization is an important step in order to include all local stakeholder into the decision and action processes.

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