Long before the first founder hit the stage, there was a buzz in the air at Betahaus Neukolln. Climate KIC’s 2019 Demo Day was about to commence, giving 16 promising start-ups in the cleantech sector a chance to showcase their ideas to investors, network with their contemporaries, and gain insight into the latest trends and developments in cleantech.
Something about Demo Day 2019 felt different than other start-up events. Coming on the heels of the largest global climate protest the world has ever seen, a sense of urgency emanated from the crowd. The heightened significance of the evening was not lost on the founders, as they delivered their ideas with enthusiasm and conviction.
The first company to showcase their idea brought a concrete solution, literally, aiming to transform the archaic concrete industry. Co-founder Leopold Spenner comes from a family with more than 90 years in the concrete business, giving him an innate understanding of the industry and its problems. Spenner explained that one of the biggest issues in the concrete industry today is companies producing excessively strong concrete, resulting in considerably higher costs and carbon emissions. Alcemy uses advanced AI to reduce the time needed to test the strength of concrete from 28 days, to only 40 minutes. This makes it possible for companies to test concrete in real-time, and then select the proper mixture for each product — enabling use-specific concrete on a deadline.
Alcemy was not alone in trying to tackle the problem of an inefficient concrete industry. Mixteresting co-founder Franz Haller explained his company’s vision of using machine learning and AI to quickly and cost-effectively calculate new mixtures to be tested. Haller explained that his company wanted to bring the “least digitized industry in the world” into the 21st century. The two start-ups explained that the cement industry creates between 8–10% of the world’s CO2 emissions, making it very apparent that the industry is ripe for change, with more sustainability and lower costs well within reach.
A common thread emerged as the night continued; construction appeared to be a hot topic, and one company, in particular, offered a solution that could stand to transform the industry as a whole. Kamioni brings a centralized, digital solution to the world of construction logistics — delivering a new level of transparency and efficiency to the industry. Founder Daniel Dancs explained that the time is now for the industry to evolve, and claimed that the notoriously traditional sector was finally giving way to new ideas that can usher in a new era of construction logistics. Kamioni’s software is already in use, being tested by several companies in the Berlin-Brandenburg area.
After construction, the industry most represented at the event was the food industry, which at present is estimated to contribute between 20–30% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The first of these companies to take the stage was AgroSustain, which uses plant-derived formulas to tackle the problem of food loss from mold. The Swiss start-up is developing comprehensive solutions to eliminate food waste while actually improving how our food tastes. AgroSustain’s proprietary formula protects from 50 types of mold and has the potential to reduce 80% of produce waste.
Rebel Meat takes an interesting approach to reduce the carbon intensity of meat products, combining meat with mushrooms. With Rebel Meat burgers already available at a handful of Vienna restaurants, they claim their product can save 1.5 kg co2 1000 litres of water, and 100 square metres of land compared to an all-beef burger — all while retaining the great taste. As an added bonus, Rebel Meat contains vitamins A and D, and 55% less cholesterol and 50% less fat. The start-up has a long term goal of shifting to lab-grown meat once the technology matures, making their process even more sustainable, and cruelty-free.
Rounding out the event was Cirplus, a marketplace platform that CEO Christian Schiller hopes to build into “the Amazon for recycled plastics”. Schiller’s presentation painted a grim picture of the current state of affairs in the plastics industry — at present only 6% of plastics used in Europe comes from recycled sources. With the market set to grow 40% by 2030, Schiller hopes a comprehensive market to connect plastic buyers with recyclers can help the share of recycled plastics grow to 25% in the next decade.
The night ended with an opportunity to reflect on the event over drinks and a vegetarian BBQ, keeping the sustainable nature of the evening intact right ’til the very end. At face value, Climate KIC’s Demo Day 2019 served as an informative overview of some of the most promising new start-ups to emerge in Europe. In reality, the event presented a microcosm of the most pressing global issues, and the ambitious young entrepreneurs working to solve them.
Time will tell which of these start-ups will ultimately have a significant impact on the world, but one thing was already very clear; the wheels are well in motion to build a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable society. The importance of events designed to bring together the people developing these solutions with investors and decision-makers will only grow in the future. Climate KIC has shown once again its desire and capacity to be at the forefront of the global shift to sustainability — the roadmap is already there, its time for us to join together and move in the right direction.
A contribution by DWR eco.
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