4 ways to scale up Europe’s green technology through better funding

Commissioner Environemnt

Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner-designate for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. (Co-operators: Photographer: Georges Boulougouris European Union, 2019 Source: EC – Audiovisual Service)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Martina Larkin, Head of Regional Strategies, Europe and Eurasia; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum

Many of the innovative solutions that will drive the green recovery will come from start-ups.

  • Ensuring proper access to funding for such companies as they grow is critical.
  • Here are four ideas, taken from a new report, about how to improve the innovation funding process.

Amid the urgency of this pandemic and the ever-present concerns about climate change, how best to grow a start-up may not always be the first order of business. However, while Google lays off contract workers and Amazon scrambles to hire more warehouse staff, it is important to remember that in Europe, the tech sector is responsible for more than 2 million jobs and 10% of job growth, which are now crucially at stake as economic turbulence sweeps the globe in the wake of COVID-19.

Naturally, most attention is garnered by companies that are already household names, but the creators of tomorrow’s life-changing technologies and highly skilled jobs may still be in the lab – especially when it comes to those working on climate solutions. ‘Green tech‘ encompasses many types of innovation, but of key concern are companies at the cutting-edge of scientific discovery. These face unique challenges – including untested business models, longer investment cycles, and the need to deploy capital into pilot manufacturing facilities – that are not shared by their software or platform-focused peers. In Europe, such companies are now in the spotlight as political commitments to the Green Deal makes achieving environmental ambitions a top priority.

Funding these has never been straightforward – and it is even less so in Europe, where market fragmentation and limited access to late-stage capital has forced many companies to seek foreign investors once they enter the growth stage. This does not have to be the case. Europe has a legacy of industrial excellence and one of the best higher education systems in the world. Combined with public and private sector support, it can lead the next wave of innovation – which will enable us to rebuild better and greener as we address the effects of the pandemic.

As part of the Digital Europe initiative, the Digital Leaders of Europe community – comprised of founders, investors, corporate executives and policy-makers – identified innovation funding as one of the key issues for European companies in its 2019 Innovate Europe report. Now, their Bridging the Gap in European Scale-up Funding paper explores further how this relates to growth-stage companies (scale-ups), especially those using scientific innovation to address environmental challenges. Four ideas are presented within:

What is the World Economic Forum doing to champion social innovation?

Innovative social entrepreneurs are addressing the world’s most serious challenges ranging from illiteracy to girls’ education and disaster relief. To achieve maximum impact and start to address root causes, they need greater visibility, credibility, access to finance, favourable policy decisions, and in some cases a better understanding of global affairs.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is supporting more than 350 late-stage social entrepreneurs. By providing an unparalleled global platform, the Foundation’s goal is to highlight and expand innovative models of social innovation. It helps strengthen and grow the field of social enterprise by showcasing best-in-class examples, models for replication and cutting-edge research on social innovation.

Our global network of experts, partner institutions, and World Economic Forum constituents and business members are invited to nominate outstanding social entrepreneurs. Get in touch to become a member or partner of the World Economic Forum.

1. User-centric interaction with funding institutions. The ecosystem of European institutions offering funding for innovative ideas is robust, but navigating it can be confusing for founders and requires dedicated resources. Minimizing bureaucracy, treating founders as customers, and streamlining the process for both applications and funds disbursement could allow the best ventures to scale much more quickly.

2. Blended finance to support innovation. Successfully combining public and private funds can overcome the time and capital constraints on investment. Already used to mitigate risk on large-scale investment in developing regions, this approach can crowd in private capital, familiarize cautious investors with new asset classes such as growth-stage technology companies, and do so with a lower risk of loss compared to subsidies and grants.

Image: State of European Tech

3. More inclusive public and private procurement. The opportunity to work with a strategic buyer can present a lot more upside than a direct investment alone, especially for growth companies looking to trial products and collaborate with users to tailor their technology. More flexible frameworks and pilot projects can foster long-term growth.

4. Give founders a voice on regulation. New industries aligned with climate goals must be able to input on policy to ensure that the regulatory environment supports companies that are providing innovative solutions in their growth. For example, organizations such as the IPIFF for insect farming have gone a long way to support the development of new sectors.

Governments, businesses and ecosystem builders can work together to trial these ideas and build out the capabilities needed to ensure that innovative and scientific applications aimed at climate solutions are not lost in the wake of COVID-19, and that recovery measures are taken in order that the future is shaped by innovation and sustainability.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Thinking throughout HIV: changing a perspective

SMEs are the most valuable partners. Here’s why

3 ways to use digital identity systems in global supply chains

Health Care Workers’ Safety and Health as Assets in the Fight Against COVID-19

The EU Consumer Policy on the Digital Market: A Behavioral Economics View

Is there a drug for every disease?

Bundestag kick starts the next episode of the Greek tragedy

Bold, innovative measures for refugees and their hosts sought, at first ever Global Forum

How to turn Africa’s manufacturing sector into a high-tech powerhouse

UNESCO food and culture forum dishes up fresh serving of SDGs

Workplace risks: Final vote on protection from carcinogens, including diesel fumes

World Wildlife Day: UN chief urges ‘more caring’ relationship with nature

Energy: EU priority projects should be aligned with 2050 climate objectives

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: Libya civil war, African displacement, global trade tensions, terrorists’ children ‘secretly detained’, and more

David Attenborough: The planet can’t cope with overpopulation

Autumn Fiscal Package: Commission adopts Opinions on euro area Draft Budgetary Plans

This Norwegian cruise line plans to power its ships with rotting fish

A Sting Exclusive: “The Digital Economy and Industry are no longer opposing terms”, Commissioner Oettinger underlines live from European Business Summit 2015

Stop illegal trade in cats and dogs, says European Parliament

Let the Italians have it their way, it may be good for all Eurozone

Global public-private collaboration tackles cybersecurity skills gap

The world is too complacent about epidemics. Here’s how to change

Parliament in favour of lifting visa requirements for Kosovars

UN chief hails victory of ‘political will’ in historic Republic of North Macedonia accord

The benefits of a cashless society

How supporting climate action on a local level can transform the world

EU-Russia summit in the shadows of Kiev’s fumes

How Germany strives to mold ECB’s monetary policy to her interests

The Great Reset after COVID-19 must put people first

Sovereign wealth funds could increase equality in a post-COVID world

Airships, solar planes and Soviet-era sea skimmers … here’s how we fix air travel

A Sting Exclusive: “Doing ourselves a favour”, Vice President Dombrovskis underscores that this time growth has to come from within the EU

Mobile Technology saving lives: changing healthcare systems with simple technology solutions

Asylum: deal to update EU fingerprinting database

Cyprus Parliament says no to blackmail

GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas

These German businesses are hiring refugees to plug the skills gap

Coronavirus Response: Commission welcomes ‘Best Practices’ to provide relief for consumers and businesses

Writing a greener story in Asia and the Pacific amidst COVID-19 outbreak

Promoting Health in the Brazilian Amazon: one nation but many cultures

Is Erdogan losing game and match within and without Turkey?

Questions and Answers on issues about the digital copyright directive

Mobile technology saving lives: How simple technological solutions can improve our health care system

Making Europe’s businesses future-ready: A new Industrial Strategy for a globally competitive, green and digital Europe

Brexit uncertainty keeps shaking the world’s financial markets

Catalonia’s vote for independence and the power of symbols

Sudzha gas metering station at Russian-Ukrainian border (Copyright: Gazprom, 2015 / Gazprom’s website, Media)

Gazprom starts suspending gas contracts with Ukraine as Brussels fears limited transit to Europe

COP24: A million lives could be saved by 2050 through climate action, UN health agency reveals

Shaping Europe’s digital future: op-ed by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Four ways Artificial Intelligence can make healthcare more efficient and affordable

Why cooperative and competitive federalism is the secret to India’s success

Another doomed EU attempt to interfere in Libya?

Who cares about the unity of Ukraine?

No better year for the EU’s weak chain links

This is what CEOs around the world see as the biggest risks to business

What is carbon offsetting?

UN condemns ‘cowardly’ attack on Libya’s national oil corporation headquarters

Coronavirus Global Response: Commission joins the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX)

Protectionism doesn’t stand a chance in the age of connectivity

Employment MEPs reach consensus with Commission on workers’ health and safety

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s