Many concepts and ideas that aim to make a contribution to combating climate change or the consumption of finite resources are currently shaping the image of the German and international start-up scene. In the vicinity of the Hamburg metropolitan region, numerous projects deal with complex, science-based start-ups. And there, too, topics with a direct or indirect link to sustainability are becoming visible time and again. Effects that are not just hype in Hamburg, but a continuing trend. What is behind this development? A brief stocktaking by our editor Olaf Ledderboge.
Start-ups actively position themselves on environmental and resource protection issues
A look at current rankings also shows how important aspects of sustainability have become in start-up topics. In the “Top 50 Start-ups Ranking”, the top three places were awarded to start-up teams that actively want to achieve an environmentally friendly impact.
The start-up “traceless materials” (1st place), for example, wants to solve global plastic pollution with new, nature-based materials – the two founders from Hamburg are supported by beyourpilot and Startup Dock. The third-placed team in the “Top50 Startup Ranking”, team “Crafting Future” develops sustainable reusable products in the food environment and also aims in a comparable direction. But the runners-up also have environmental aspects in mind, at least indirectly: With practical robot solutions, “Conbotics” from Hanover wants to significantly reduce pollution, for example, during painting or craft work. For some of the other teams in the Top50 ranking, addressing sustainability issues also plays a role.
Positive market environment and technology-driven innovations
Topics such as green energy, mobility or questions about sustainable raw materials are thus present in the start-ups and are being developed into marketable products and services. These developments are not a flash in the pan in Hamburg either, and with teams like traceless they are also becoming visible time and again in the beyourpilot environment.
Other examples are the two start-up teams EnergieDock, which is tackling the transformation of the energy sector, or CarbonStack, which wants to revolutionise environmental certificate trading with practical blockchain technology. “In our eyes, the market situation is simply very open to new ideas in the field of climate protection and sustainability right now. And many established companies are also looking for new approaches to make their business models more sustainable. But it is also important that there are numerous funding opportunities for start-ups, especially in the green tech environment,” explains Julian Kakarott, Managing Director of CarbonStack.
The market environment still seems open to green innovations and established companies are also looking for sustainability-oriented business model innovations. Both start-up projects are now legally established as limited liability companies and, after successful capital rounds, are well beyond the seeding phases of their start-ups.
”Generation Z” ensures further change
The markets are also increasingly responding to the wishes of end consumers and buyers. There, too, the importance of green products and services continues to grow. Naturally, this also happens through generational effects. In a more comprehensive survey on the Bundestag elections, the consulting firm PWC identified current development trends among the young generation. The conclusion: sustainability innovations remain important.
According to the survey “Gen Z chooses sustainable”, two-thirds of 18 to 25-year-olds also pay attention to sustainability and corresponding signals in the goods and products they buy when they go shopping. According to the authors, the most important purchase decision signals continue to come from price and quality. “In order to respond to the needs of this important purchasing group, it is worthwhile for retailers and manufacturers to expand their range of sustainable products in a targeted manner and to invest in clear, transparent and honest communication about the product characteristics,” says co-author and sustainability expert Harald Dutzler, outlining the facts behind the findings.
Start-ups develop solutions that also find a market
In principle, there is also a willingness to pay a premium for products that meet certain sustainability criteria. And there would also be a desire for alternatives to plastic or solutions against the flood of packaging waste.
Whether EnergieDock, CarbonStack or traceless materials, the founders in Hamburg are developing solutions that meet with corresponding demand. And apparently meet functioning market forces for green services, which are also supported by environmental and climate awareness in the younger generations.
Sources / Links:
Steckbrief: „Traceless“ https://www.top50startups.de/start-ups/ranking/2021/traceless-materials-gmbh Steckbrief: „Conbotics“: https://www.top50startups.de/start-ups/ranking/2021/conbotics Steckbrief: „Crafting Future“: https://www.top50startups.de/start-ups/ranking/2021/crafting-future-gmbh PWC Studie „Gen Z wählt nachhaltig. Umfrage unter 18- bis 25-Jährigen September 2021“; https://www.pwc.de/de/nachhaltigkeit/gen-z-waehlt-nachhaltig-2.pdf Artikel „Die Gen Z legt Wert auf Nachhaltigkeit“; PWC; https://www.pwc.de/de/pressemitteilungen/2021/die-gen-z-legt-wert-auf-nachhaltigkeit-beim-einkauf-und-bei-der-bundestagswahl.html