How You Can Take Climate Action Now: Insights from the 2020 Climatetech Summit

On Nov. 5 and 6, more than 2,200 climate champions poured in from Somerville, Houston, Nairobi, Warsaw, New Delhi, Vancouver, Kuala Lumpur, Phoenix, Atlanta, Moscow, and more places across the country and around the world with a common mission: scaling climate action to create a sustainable future for all.

Greentown Labs’ first-ever Climatetech Summit brought the climate ecosystem together to engage across what we see as the pillars of climate action—technology, finance, policy, and justice—discover groundbreaking startups and their climatetech solutions, learn from industry experts, and forge the connections needed in order to take meaningful action on climate.

Here’s how you can take climate action now:

  • Engage with Greentown Labs startups. These entrepreneurs are developing the technologies we need to create a sustainable world, and they need partners in scaling their climate solutions—through pilot projects, strategic partnerships, research collaborations, joint-development agreements, investments, and more.
  • Invest in climate solutions. The climatetech revolution is here—and it offers incredible economic opportunities. Climate is embedding itself in the finance world, from the sway of public opinion to comfort with a wider range of sustainable solutions. 
  • Champion climate policy. At the federal, state, and local levels: vote, vote, vote. Citizens: make your voice heard in your communities by talking to your elected leaders and supporting climate legislation. Leaders: make sure you’re listening and seeking out input from all people you’re serving—especially the Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities who have long been left out of the conversation.
  • Advocate for a sustainable future for all. Climate justice requires both addressing long-standing environmental injustices and ensuring that the upcoming energy transition brings everyone into the fold. To do this, we must develop job trainings for communities that are underrepresented in climatetech; make sure that Black, Brown, and Indigenous people have a voice in decisions that impact their neighborhoods; and address social justice and economic justice as part of the approach to building climate justice.

The first day of the Climatetech Summit dug into the capital, energy, resources, and equity work we must invest to help climatetech reach its full potential.

Following opening remarks from Greentown CEO Emily Reichert and a spotlight on our member QuantAQ’s climate justice work, we kicked off the summit with a panel that zeroed in on the technology, policies, and investments needed to ensure the coming energy transition is a just one. Speakers on the climate justice panel included:

  • Kerry Bowie, managing partner of Msaada Partners and founder of Browning the Green Space
  • Danielle Deane-Ryan, senior advisor at the Libra Foundation
  • Jessica Loya, environmental DEJI (diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion) policy and campaign strategist at GreenLatinos
  • Adam Schrager (moderator), social impact storyteller at the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact
  • Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, founding pastor of New Roots AME Church

Then we saw one-minute lightning pitches from our current and alumni members Applied Bioplastics, Corvus Robotics, GreenChoice, Open Ocean Robotics, Raise Green, SEEDiA, Spare-it, and NewGrid! Special congratulations to NewGrid for winning the “Most Innovative Startup” audience vote!

We turned our attention to climate finance with a panel that explored the diverse capital sources that are key to tackling climate change and the vast opportunities for people, planet, and profit inherent in climatetech investing. The panel featured:

  • Bunmi Adekore, investor at Breakthrough Energy Ventures
  • Trenton Allen (moderator), managing director and CEO of Sustainable Capital Advisors
  • Chris Berry, global head of ESG product at State Street
  • Charlie Lord, principal and co-founder of Renew Energy Partners
  • Kristina Nilsson, managing director of J.P. Morgan, Technology Investment Banking

For a focus on early-stage investing, we brought together established cleantech and climate-focused venture capitalists to offer portfolio insights and reflect upon the importance of quantifying greenhouse emissions, supporting diverse founders, and building resilience in their own teams and portfolio companies. The Investor Roundtable speakers included:

  • Amy Duffuor, principal at Prime Impact Fund
  • Amy Francetic, founder and managing director of Buoyant Ventures
  • Dan Goldman (moderator), co-founder and managing director of Clean Energy Venture Group
  • Dave Kirkpatrick, managing director and co-founder of SJF Ventures
  • Emily Kirsch, founder and CEO of Powerhouse and managing partner of Powerhouse Ventures
  • Joshua Posamentier, co-founder and managing partner of Congruent Ventures

We wrapped up the first day with several hours of networking. Attendees had more than 1,000 one-on-one meetings throughout the Climatetech Summit!

Day two of the Climatetech Summit started off with an interactive showcase of Greentown members, whose technologies are the core of our sustainable future. Attendees stepped into 100+ startups’ booths to hear from the founders, learn about their climate solutions, and make valuable connections. The showcase highlighted climatetech companies innovating across the key carbon-emitting sectors—electricity, agtech and water, buildings, manufacturing, and transportation. View all the showcasing startups here!

After the Startup Showcase, we enjoyed lightning pitches from AeroShield Materials, CalWave Power Technologies, Pecos Wind Power, Sistine Solar, Solchroma Technologies, Techstyle Materials, Transaera, VesprSolar, and SICDRONE. Congratulations to AeroShield Materials on winning the audience vote for “Most Innovative Startup!”

Then, with the U.S. presidential election result still undeclared but becoming clearer, we dove into climate policy, how it can foster climatetech innovation, and how we can all support climate legislation. We were joined by:

  • Lara Cottingham, chief of staff and chief sustainability officer for the City of Houston
  • Elizabeth Turnbull Henry, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts
  • Julia Pyper (moderator), host and producer of Political Climate and contributing editor at Greentech Media
  • Nathaniel Stinnett, founder and executive director of the Environmental Voter Project

We then rounded out our startup lightning pitches with American Battery Technology Company, Electric Fish, Packetized Energy, Promethean Power Systems, Veloce Energy, SomEV, COI Energy Services, Littoral Power Systems, Blackburn Energy, and SparkCharge. Blackburn Energy took home the award for “Most Innovative Startup!”

The Climatetech Summit’s keynote speaking program tied together the themes, ideas, and opportunities for action identified throughout the Climatetech Summit, crafting a multi-stakeholder, holistic approach to scaling climate action together. The speaking program featured climate leaders in the public sector, private sector, and non-governmental organizations:

Finally, we concluded the summit by emphasizing what was proved again and again throughout the two days: climate change is our greatest challenge, but by working together—by combining the power of technology, finance, policy, and justice—we can build a sustainable future for all.