The "Controversy" Around Tech
Big Tech has taken a lot of heat lately – some of it appropriately and some if it perhaps not. Nevertheless, whatever you think about Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, technology is an integral part of our lives today for better and for worse. At Altitude Accelerator, we focus on the ‘for better’ aspects and work with our entrepreneurs to deliver solutions that make the world a better place.
Global Challenges Towards a Better Future
What does making the world a better place mean in the context of technology? Let’s start by asking what major concerns we have today in the world. The Millennium Project focuses on improving humanity’s prospects for building a better future and has identified 15 global challenges. On top of their list (and almost everyone else’s) is sustainable development and climate change. Are we inexorably headed toward a dystopian future where the planet spirals into chaos, or can environmental challenges be meet and reversed?
We’re optimists! We don’t think the dystopian future is inevitable and neither do our entrepreneurs! Meet Altitude clients that focus on this category – often broadly referred to as Cleantech firms.
Trustworthy ESG Measurements to Assess Real-Time Environmental Impact
Let’s start our journey by referring to management thinker Peter Drucker’s famous quote ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’. Drucker meant that we can’t know whether our efforts are successful unless success is defined and tracked. In the context of this post, we can’t know whether firms are improving environmental outcomes unless we measure those outcomes. In the environmental world we do this via Environmental, Social and Governance or ESG measurements. Unfortunately, many ESG metrics are self-reported by firms and may or may not be trustworthy.
Altitude client EnvAI Solutions (Investor Readiness 2021) addresses this issue by using artificial intelligence to provide cutting edge, independently verified data on the environmental and social footprint of corporations to help them better orient themselves for the 21st century and to help investors decide whether they’re delivering on their promises.
The Recovery and Recycling of Lithium to Drive the EV Revolution
Once we can measure the success of cleantech activities what might we focus on next?
In the United States, the transportation sector represents the largest segment of greenhouse gas emissions at 29%. Recently, great headway has been made in electrifying the transportation sector as Tesla and many other existing and innovative new firms launch products to replace traditional carbon intense vehicles based on internal combustion engines. There’s a problem though. Electric vehicles require batteries (usually lithium-ion batteries), and batteries are scarce. Specifically, lithium is scarce and expensive. Also, there are concerns about what to do with lithium-ion batteries at the end of their life cycle.
Enter Altitude Client Li-Cycle (Incubator, 2018). Li-Cycle has developed a sustainable and scalable process for recovery of critical materials from all types of lithium-ion batteries. Li-Cycle is scaling exponentially and has investors excited as they grow their global footprint. The most recent investment was $100 million US from KSP.
Converting Waste into Useful Outputs
Another example of a successful Altitude client is Char Technologies (Incubator 2014). Char focuses on a different Cleantech area by using a proprietary process to convert woody-biomass and challenging organic waste streams (manure, sludge, biosolids and others) into renewable and valuable outputs such as natural gas, pollutant filters and fertilizer additives.
Substituting Harmful Microplastics with Biodegradable Options
Cleantech isn’t only about energy. It also refers to organizations that address different pollution and environmental issues.
One great example is Altitude client Anomera (Incubator 2017). Everyday trillions of plastic microbeads from cosmetics pollute our lakes, rivers, and oceans. Those microbeads cause water and pose an environmental hazard for aquatic animals in fresh and ocean water. Anomera initially created a new class of biodegradable cosmetic powders that replace plastic and silica microbeads and other inorganic ingredients used in make-up and skin care. Anomera has now expanded their product lines to other areas such as cement/concrete and paint.
In all cases their award-winning products minimize negative environmental impacts and enable modern advanced manufacturing while conserving energy and natural resource.
Challenges beyond Sustainability
How much of your cash is in inventory that takes up space on your warehouse shelves?
And so, how much product do you really need, especially as a startup? Budgeting for low inventory is a safe bet to start with, reducing expenses.
Planning for the future
Obviously, climate change isn’t the only challenge that Canada and the world are facing and it’s not the only challenge that our start-ups are addressing. We’ll expand on solutions to some of these other challenges in future posts but here’s a taste to hold you over.
For many people challenges associated with the future of work and equitable access to quality employment would be follow climate change on their priority list of global challenges.
Meet Altitude client Knockri. Knockri is tackling the challenging problem of systemic bias in hiring. Specifically, they use behavioural skills assessment that improves diversity without impacting work performance or hiring efficiency. Canadian and global companies are flocking to their solutions to help them hire the best possible candidates while reducing hiring bias, cutting costs, and improving the candidate experience.
In this post we’ve outlined how Altitude start-ups are making the world a better place while creating innovative new firms and new high-quality jobs in Ontario. Investors, customers, and employees are flocking to their solutions. When you work with organizations like these you can’t help but be optimistic for our global future.
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