#Greentown10: Greentown Labs CEO Emily Reichert on Momentum for Climate Action

As 2021 comes to a close, so does #Greentown10, our year-long celebration of the startups, partners, ecosystem collaborators, and other climate champions who have played an active part in building Greentown Labs over the past 10 years. 

As CEO of Greentown Labs—and proudly Greentown’s first official employee—I’ve had the honor of watching the Greentown community grow up over the past 10 years. We’ve gone from four founders to a community that’s supported more than 450 startups, with more than 70 corporate partners and more than 140,000 sq. ft. of lab space. Our startups have created nearly 8,000 jobs, raised more than $1.5 billion in investment, and contributed back at least $1.6 billion to local economies. 

It’s been an incredible 10 years, but we know we can’t stop there! As the Sixth Assessment Report from the IPCC vividly stated, the next 10 years will be the most important in our quest for meaningful climate action. While we have some of the climate solutions we need, many more must still be brought to scale. So now more than ever before, it is the time for a climatetech revolution.

Momentum is growing for climatetech, starting with record-breaking investment and funding for climatetech startups this year. Climatetech companies have already raised $32 billion in 2021, compared to just $6.6 billion in 2016. Early-stage investors and venture capital firms such as Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prime Impact Fund, Blue Bear Capital, and Clean Energy Ventures are leading the way, and more are announced every day. 

This incredible infusion of interest and investment in climatetech has helped Greentown entrepreneurs take their technologies to new levels and deploy across the globe in 2021. This year alone: 

In the corporate sector, every day more and more companies are making net-zero commitments to decarbonize their operations and do their part to meet the Paris Agreement. Greentown partners such as Microsoft, NRG Energy, Stanley Black & Decker, Unilever, Johnson Matthey, and Saint-Gobain have made ambitious, science-based targets and are actively partnering with climatetech entrepreneurs to meet their goals. 

What’s even more amazing is that these notable achievements took place amid the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has been incredibly hard for everyone—as humans—and shook the fabric of our economy and our society. But the pandemic helped the world understand the need to  be better prepared for global emergencies and sounded a clarion call for urgent climate action. Although our facilities were quieter than normal for much of 2020, our entrepreneurs safely continued their work in our labs and at home when needed; our startups and our team worked inventively to make sure that climate action never missed a beat. And despite stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions, we successfully launched our first expansion to Houston, where we are helping to catalyze the energy transition in the energy capital of the world!

Finally, and most importantly, momentum for climate action can be felt not only nationally, but on the international stage as well. According to the UN, more than 130 countries have set or are working on net-zero emissions targets, including the United States and China. The Biden Administration made rejoining the Paris Agreement a top priority and set climate change as a central tenet of its Build Back Better plan, catapulting the need for climatetech solutions even further into the spotlight. 

It’s no coincidence that while global leaders gather in Glasgow this week for the UN’s 2021 climate conference COP26, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, and policymakers will be gathering at Greentown for our biggest event of the year, the Climatetech Summit. The Climatetech Summit will be a celebration of #Greentown10 and the achievements our impressive community has made in climatetech. It will also be a launching point for increasing our climate impact in the decade ahead. Incredible momentum is growing for climatetech, and our goal is to make the next 10 years, the best 10 years for climatetech startups and for the planet!