Amazon and Virgin celebrate milestones on sustainable start-up accelerator schemes

Image: Amazon

Amazon has this week confirmed that, from the 1,200 applications it received from startups across the UK and Europe, it has selected 12 to receive support through its Launchpad Sustainability Accelerator. The scheme is delivered as part of a partnership between Amazon and the EU’s climate innovation scheme, EIT Climate-KIC, forged to help Amazon deliver on its pledge to invest $2bn in sustainable innovations this decade.

Under the scheme, startups developing solutions to pressing environmental challenges, and startups with strong and innovative approaches to sustainable operations and value chains, receive support packages worth £30,000 each. The packages include grant funding, AWS Activate Credits and Amazon Advertising credits, as well as free mentoring and free office space in London for a three-month period.

Eight of the 12 startups selected to receive support packages through the Accelerator at this stage are UK-based. They are:

  • Nappy company Cleannest, which is working to create a biodegradable line of nappies
  • ETHOSA, which makes powder-to-gel shower products that help to reduce plastic packaging use and lifecycle product emissions
  • Grub Club Pets, a manufacturer of insect-based pet food with a lower emissions footprint than meat-based foods
  • Refillable home cleaning products brand Home Thigs
  • Waterless laundry detergent sheet producer Laundry Leaves
  • Plant-based pet food brand Omni
  • Reusable, repairable, plant-based electric toothbrush brand SURI
  • Nutritional supplements brand KLIR, which uses only plastic-free packaging and is certified as carbon-neutral

The other four startups are German hand sanitizer maker adrop; German baby care products brand baybies; Irish natural and refillable skincare brand Skingredients, and Belgium waterless cleaning product maker YOKUU.

“Entrepreneurs are finding ways to turn the challenge of climate change into a growth opportunity, and investors are backing those startups with sustainability in mind from the outset, moving away from businesses where those credentials are missing,” said the general manager of Amazon Launchpad for Europe, Aditi Singh. “We are excited to welcome our first Accelerator group. Impact can only happen at scale, and scale will only happen if businesses large and small are choosing to lead at pace.”

To coincide with the Accelerator announcement, Amazon commissioned FTI Consulting to survey those who invest in startups to garner their views on sustainability and cleantech. A total of 632 people responded to the survey, with 70% stating that they always ask for information on the sustainability strategy of each startup before an investment decision is made.

Moreover, 83% of the investors surveyed said they want to invest in more environmentally sustainable startups, while a similar proportion (85%) believe that startups which are purpose-led and sustainability-focused will perform better in the long term.

BetaDen North

 Also announcing new support packages for sustainable startups this week is accelerator programme BetaDen North. The Wyre-Forest-based organisation has chosen six projects and businesses to receive a support programme worth £25,000 through its eight-week ‘bootcamp’ scheme. Funding for the scheme is being provided by the UK Government, through the Community Renewal Fund. Project support is being given by Wyre Forest District Council and Worcestershire County Council.

The first bootcamp participant is Hummingbird design, which is developing a road surface system which could harness the kinetic energy generated by vehicles using the road to generate electricity. Other participants from the energy sector are low-carbon heating technology pioneers Ecoforest UK and Aceleron, which has developed a modular lithium-ion battery that is fully recyclable and upgradeable. Aceleron was highly commended for edie’s 2020 Sustainability Leaders Awards, in the ‘Circular Economy Innovation of the Year’ category.

BetaDen North has also selected three startups seeking to tackle waste for participation in the bootcamp.  They are paper-based packaging products company Voidfill; extendable clothing hanger maker Grohanger and innovative recycling bin producer R-Net.

Virgin Startup

In related news, Virgin Startup has this week confirmed that it is reopening its Collective Impact programme in partnership with Crowdcube and Capital Pilot.

The programme provides startup founders with a five-week course, designed to help them raise funds for – and generate awareness of – their work. Support is provided for activities like branding, delivering presentations to investors and planning crowdfunding campaigns.

Applications are open now and will close on 23 May. The course will then begin on 14 June. To apply, businesses will need to detail their sustainability credentials and their ambitions to raise between £150,000 and £1.5m via equity crowdfunding.

More broadly, Virgin Startup is the leading Delivery Partner of the Government-backed Start Up Loans Programme, which provides early-stage, UK-based startups with funding packages of up to £25,000.

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