AI recycling solutions and Kiwi carbon capture technology: Startups come together to progress clever world-saving ideas at Creative HQ

Creative HQ announces teams participating in this year’s Climate Response Accelerator

Climate response

Wellington – 23 March 2022

Carbon capture technology, AI recycling and ‘Xero for climate change‘ are just a few of the ten ingenious new startup innovations from around Aotearoa set to be supercharged in the virtual Climate Response Accelerator, a climate-change programme run by Creative HQ, Wellington’s innovation hub.

The Climate Response Accelerator, now in its second year, will work with the ten startups closely over 12 weeks to grow and commercialise their bold climate change solutions and clever world-saving ideas for a better future.

Climate change is the most pressing issues of our time. The world is experiencing droughts, pandemics, floods and fires at alarmingly high rates, causing huge disruption abroad and here at home. We urgently need new solutions to help tackle these challenges. The Climate Response Accelerator is designed to accelerate these new solutions and technologies that we desperately need to make an impact on climate change.

Luke Ball
GM of Startups, Creative HQ

The teams in this year’s cohort are tackling a variety of challenges, from everyday problems such as sustainable toothpaste, through to business solutions to track and measure climate impact. Other teams are focused on deep technology-based solutions in carbon capture, alongside Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and financial technologies (FinTech) products.

Out of a total of 52 applicants, Creative HQ selected 10 teams from across Aotearoa for this year’s programme. This year’s programme will be run virtually to allow teams to participate from all over the country. The teams will be provided with $20,000 equity-free funding, mentorship, and the tools and resources to help them advance at each growth stage.

“We’re really excited to see some of these incredible world-changing inventions coming through our doors. Making the world a better place is something we’re passionate about at Creative HQ and that’s what makes this accelerator so exciting to work on,” continues Ball. “We’re privileged to learn about the incredible ideas of our teams, and we learn a lot while lending our innovation and business expertise to help them grow – it’s a two-way street.”

The Ministry for the Environment is one of the 13 sponsors of this year’s Climate Response Accelerator. Anna Ririnui, Strategic Partnerships Manager at MfE says, “Innovation is crucial to accelerate the transition to a low emissions, circular economy, and so it’s really exciting seeing the range and potential of the teams confirmed in this year’s Climate Response Accelerator.”

One of the selected teams, Capture6 , is developing a carbon-negative technology that removes carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the air.

“We are rapidly approaching irreversible levels of climate change and global warming as the world continues to emit 50 billion tonnes of CO2 every year,” says Capture6 co-founder, Luke Shors. “We are developing a technology which can remove carbon dioxide directly from the air at scale. It’s essentially an insurance policy if our other efforts to reduce emissions don’t move fast enough to mitigate climate change. We need carbon dioxide to be removed from the atmosphere – and quickly.”

“The Climate Response Accelerator will support us on our journey to commercialise a carbon dioxide removal technology here in New Zealand, which can be scaled to help tackle the global problem of climate change,” continues Shors. “Various carbon-capture initiatives exist, but none which are scalable, verifiable, and affordable – that’s our challenge to solve.”

Another exciting team in this year’s cohort of Climate Response Accelerator teams is Donut, a startup with a climate FinTech product that helps businesses to track their carbon footprint.

“Donut is where climate change meets small business,” says co-founder Hugh Walcott. “Our product will be integrated with services like Xero – so people can track their carbon footprint in the same way they track their accounting. Ultimately, it’ll help businesses make more informed decisions around their climate impact.”

“We want sustainability reporting to be an easy part of the way small businesses operate so they can achieve their sustainability goals,”, continues Walcott. “We save small business owners time by automating the footprint reporting process, then matching them to sustainability marketplace solutions.”

The Climate Response Accelerator is supported by 13 sponsors, each keen to ensure the programme is a success.

“Addressing the climate challenges we all face requires innovation and collaboration. We’re looking forward to sharing Datacom’s experience and capabilities with these smart, impact-focused entrepreneurs and helping them build solutions that will make a real difference,” says Datacom Managing Director Justin Gray.

“We know from working with Creative HQ in the past that they have a talent for enabling real progress, and we’re excited to see what the Climate Response Accelerator can achieve. In the work we do every day, Datacom’s vision is to enable our customers and our communities to thrive and being a part of projects that contribute to a more sustainable world is a critical part of that.” continues Gray.

The majority of the teams in last year’s Climate Response Accelerator went on to raise significant amounts of capital, including Frankie Technologies which raised $900k through a round led by Icehouse Ventures.

“The success of the programme last year shows just how crucial it is to develop new climate and environment solutions now, ” says Ball. “Programmes like the Climate Response Accelerator are going to be pivotal in how we tackle climate change and environmental challenges going forward, using ingenious new technology and startup ways of thinking to problem-solve.”

This year’s Climate Response Accelerator is sponsored by Callaghan Innovation, Ministry for the Environment (MfE), Datacom, Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation, WellingtonNZ, AWS Activate, Auckland Unlimited, Avid Legal, EY, Bridgewest, AbleTech, Circularity and Catapult.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Ciara Craig
GM Engagement

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