Start-ups have gained a worldwide reputation as movers and shakers of climate-friendly policies.
Here in the Baltics, with the European Green Deal and Paris Agreement as north stars, a number of Baltic start-ups are harnessing climate impact technologies towards true industry transformation under ClimAccelerator, a global EU-supported programme providing start-ups friendly climate solutions and guidelines.
Some of them are wading into yet uncharted waters and, well, raising eyebrows.
“From early-stage start-ups enabling “going green” and addressing biodiversity, I’d certainly distinguish Endangered Wildlife OÜ, an Estonian start-up, setting a real pecuniary value for biodiversity, enabling the financial impact calculations in regards to sustainable investment decisions,” says Erki Ani, CEO of Cleantech Estonia, a Baltic cleantech sector development powerhouse, which is part of the Baltic ClimAccelerator.
“While the cleantech sector itself is very broad, new policies and regulations are one cause for driving the demand for new solutions in relevant themes. ClimAccelerator as part of the EU’s largest climate innovation stakeholder recognizes and understands those themes, thus providing great added value to those entering the accelerator – cleantech, or nature-friendly start-ups typically acknowledge the fact that in order to provide positive impact, collaboration with the most strategic partners is a must,” Erki Ani explains. “When it comes to Endangered Wildlife OÜ, it certainly helps large infrastructure planners take into account the needs of wildlife,” he adds.
Endangered Wildlife has recently become part of ClimAccelerator’s Baltics & Slovakia ClimAccelerator program.
“It’s time to unleash the innovation potential of start-ups to shape a climate-positive new normal,” says Shana Vida Gavron, the CEO of Endangered Wildlife (EW).
Both agree that financial valuation of biodiversity today is a topic little covered so far.
But it is creating a robust buzz all around and, undoubtedly, will shape into a firm trend sooner or later and, perhaps, into a policy for most financial institutions to reckon with in the coming years.
“Although the topic itself (evaluation of biodiversity) is tough for many to grasp yet, there is a lot of data on biodiversity…Indeed, it is almost impossible to understand one species’ impact on the whole ecosystem, yet understanding that is crucial and the impact of a possible “butterfly-effect” cannot be overlooked. We do need innovations to understand our action’s impact. And we need them fast,” says the CEO of Cleantech Estonia.
“There appears to be a strong green movement amongst Baltic start-ups. As part of the ClimAccelerator, we are dedicated to climate agenda and going green – whenever and wherever we can.
But where Endangered Wildlife stands out is that it is also focusing on other start-ups within the program. There is definitely a win-win situation for all,” says Shana.
There are other Baltic start-ups working on biodiversity related issues, but EW is still the only one purely focused on the valuation of biodiversity.
Ian Finch, a Product Portfolio Manager at Regal Smart Solutions (RSS), a UK firm, says that valuing biodiversity financially is pretty new not only in the Baltics, but in the UK too.
“Yes, this is still in its infancy in the UK as well,” he says, adding that RSS has chosen the Estonian start-up, EW, to do the first job of the kind.
“We are still in the process of completing our first valuation using Endangered Wildlife…I do not know much about the wildlife in Estonia, but I’ll be glad to read a report completed by EW and promote it on social media (as something genuine),” the Regal Smart Solutions manager says.
The UK project throws Endangered Wildlife into a coveted international spotlight. But some of EW’s clients are way further, like Marine Conservation Cambodia, a Cambodian NGO that combines research, conservation and outreach to protect Cambodian marine mammals, specifically protecting the Irrawaddy Dolphins within the Kep and Kampot provinces.
For some of Baltic start-ups, like EquuSight, a start-up developing and offering artificial intelligence-based radiology diagnostics tools in equine medicine, evaluation of biodiversity may still be in the distance, but with the trend picking steam, it can just turn out to be at a stone’s throw.
“Financial evaluation of bio-diversity is still a very new and robust concept, as it also involves valuating return on investments of one's portfolio in regards to sustainability and environmental impact. In order to do these measurements accurately, very complex data needs to be used. I hope that Endangered Wildlife will expand and help every individual to take into account the environmental issues we are facing,” Rugile Dauliute, CEO of EquuSight, says.
The Siauliai-based Lithuanian start-up is not yet a part of the ClimAccelerator, however it has been involved in EIT Health activities.
Meanwhile, Shana Vida Gavron of Endangered Wildlife OÜ does not look back.
“Governments, companies and individuals need to be much more responsible and acknowledge that before we can help solve social problems, we need to help the planet and solve the environmental challenges, especially regarding biodiversity. There is an integral link and dependency between people and biodiversity,” she says.
The awareness will certainly come, and is already coming – through education, a larger engagement by everybody in nature protection and embracing novelties, which may just inevitable.