David has been involved with digital technology and start-ups throughout his career. He spent over a decade working for Enterprise Ireland across a variety of distinct roles, most recently involved with the innovative Start in Ireland programme, designed to attract HPSU companies to Ireland from overseas. David was the Dublin Chapter Director for Startup Grind, the global entrepreneurship community. Alongside running monthly Startup Grind events for four years, David has also hosted and moderated a wide-variety of events aimed at educating entrepreneurs and developing innovation ecosystems, including Dublin Web Summit, InspireFest, TCD LaunchBox, and multiple Startup Weekend events. David also publishes SDG Alpha, a fortnightly newsletter that casts an Irish lens on the world of Impact Investment, Innovation, and Sustainability.
Could you tell us more about Accelerate Green? What kind of companies you are looking for or if there are any key dates they should keep in mind?
So, Accelerate Green is a programme designed to help companies scale in the sustainability sector. Working with our partners Bord na Móna, we're looking for (mostly) established companies/SMEs who are looking to innovate + scale into renewable energy; carbon reduction/capture; or the circular economy. The programme will run from Feb to May of 2022, deadline for application is Feb 10th.
Regarding Accelerate Green how does the equity-free model work? Looking at the wider picture, what are some of the natural advantages that Ireland has versus other small countries? The Icelandic advantage in geothermal energy springs to mind.
The Accelerate Green programme is entirely free - all we ask for is a time commitment from participants. We do have resources to cover any travel and accommodation costs that companies might incur during the programme. In terms of the natural advantages we have here in Ireland: well, it's very, very windy. But, more seriously, my experience is that Ireland is relatively easy to navigate as an innovation ecosystem. We do a good job here of making it easy to find partners (academic/govt/commercial), and Accelerate Green will be a good example of this. Our goal is to develop an ecosystem of supports around the cohort, so that business leaders on the programme can open the right doors when needed.
What can startups that aren’t built around solving a specific sustainability problem do to incorporate sustainability into their business models?
The first step (as always!) is to learn more about the problem! the UN SDGs gives us a framework to understand all the challenges humanity faces, from climate, biosphere collapse, issues relating to social justice.
Next, get out of the building - talk to your stakeholders, to identify what aspects of sustainability are important to them. start with your own team, then your customers, suppliers, investors - it can be helpful to use a tool like the Business Model Canvas, or Wardley Mapping to understand how value flows through your company, and the dependencies you have.
Third, consider using a benchmarking tool, such as B Lab's "SDG Action Manager" which is designed to help company owners understand which SDG's matter most, based on your business model. this process, together with understanding the needs/motivations of your stakeholders allows you to understand your company's impact "materiality" - that is, the impact factors which are most likely to affect your financial condition or operating performance.
At this point, you should have a good sense of what sustainability problems you're in a position to solve, and which are the most material to your business continuing to do a good job. if you're considering transitioning your business model to solve a specific sustainability problem, there's also plenty of tools and frameworks (Lean Canvas, etc) that can help you build problem/solution, and eventually product/market fit. As a business leader, you should take time to figure out if your passions align well with the sustainability problem you want to solve: startup life is a daily kick in the head, sustainability doubly so - if your passions aren’t aligned well with the SDG challenge you decide to address, then that regular kicking will become harder and harder to recover from.
What sectors are you most excited about in terms of sustainability and impact enterprises? See any growing trends?
Personally I'm fascinated by the opportunity around the circular economy. Finding ways to more effectively use the finite natural resources we have available, and designing products that can be broken down / re-purposed at the end of their lifecycle is going to take such creativity and ingenuity. There's some great examples of the synergies that circular creates here in Ireland: one of those is the team at BiaSol, who are turning waste from the brewing industry into flour that can be used in commercial baking.
Another great example is the work that FPD Recycling are doing - they've a robotic system that can extract the usable minerals and other material from old flatscreen TVs, entirely automated. this has a double positive impact - it gives access to vital, rare materials, and also removes the need for exploitative business models that use poorly paid humans to remove these toxic materials.
Could I ask what the most exciting sustainable/green investment Resolve Partners has made to date?
So, Resolve Partners isn't an active investment fund; our background is early-stage ventures, particularly from our time at NDRC (I was there between 2016 and 2020). Two impact-led projects that I was involved with were PacSana (https://pacsana.com/), a wearable device that improves the quality of life of seniors, allowing them live for longer in their own homes; and also SmartFlow (https://www.mysmartflow.ie/), a water monitoring / leak detection IoT solution.
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