Sterling attended this year’s GreenBiz VERGE conference in Silicon Valley to see how the industry is tackling sustainability. It was an exciting in-person opportunity to learn the latest about “green” innovation. Our team listened to an impressive lineup of keynotes and had great conversations on the show floor with folks from creative companies such as Aquaria, MAST Reforestation, All Power Labs, and Jaro Fleet Technologies — all of which showcased exciting visions for building a better future.
Though there was a relatively new entrant to the scene (which we’ll discuss shortly), these types of conferences tend to focus on two key technology sectors that sometimes overlap: climate tech and cleantech.
Climate tech: Corrective action
Relevant examples of climate tech sector businesses would be alternative energy producers such as solar, wind, geothermal, or hydropower. The term can also encompass electrification and battery innovations that enable industry to curb carbon emissions from, say, transportation by cars, trains, ships, and airplanes.
Carbon capture technology is also a major player in the climate tech space, which concerns leveraging technology solutions to sequester greenhouse gasses and keep them out of the atmosphere.
Cleantech: Better business
Cleantech intersects with climate tech, but more broadly addresses environmental impacts beyond GHG emissions, expanding into pollution, water quality, material consumption, resource management, and more.
Issues like potable water or hazardous waste may not directly affect global climate conditions, but they still impact our food systems, health, and quality of life. Cleantech innovators may also address these matters. Clean Energy Ventures COO Ted Dillon aptly defined cleantech as “any new business model or technology that increases the performance, productivity, and/or efficiency of production while minimizing negative impact on the environment.”
“GreenTech” and “EcoTech” are other terms within the cleantech camp that can be used interchangeably. Cleantech businesses include ventures aimed at re-engineering more sustainable building materials and practices, innovative filtration systems, novel nontoxic chemistries, and even AI-powered software for more efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).
Nature tech: Budding sector
An interesting sister conference took place simultaneously with the VERGE event: BLOOM 23. It showcased an up and coming branch of technologies and business models aimed at “advancing strategies to protect and regenerate nature.”
Dubbed nature tech, this growing area of sustainability investment encompasses technologies that help preserve or rehabilitate natural landscapes and biodiversity, as well as help companies thrive through ecological stewardship or reach net zero goals.
Investors pumped $2 billion into nature tech last year, and that number is only expected to rise. Much of the nature tech we saw at BLOOM focused on measuring and reporting biodiversity metrics or mapping ecosystems, but there is an impressive range of untapped potential entering the market. We see this area as a huge opportunity, as new technology helps agribusiness with improved crop yields and more sustainable farming techniques, or rehabilitates threatened watersheds, protects keystone species, and promotes healthy ecosystems and healthy communities.
Tech for a better world
The technology industry is built on innovation, and its reputation for ingenious applications and adaptable problem-solving is well-suited to address many of the world’s most pressing problems. The 2023 GreenBiz VERGE and BLOOM conferences showcased how entrepreneurs in climate tech, cleantech, and nature tech are rising to the challenge and bringing unique solutions to the market.
Though different in many ways, all admirably aim to create more responsible and sustainable business around the world — exactly the kind of trailblazers we champion at Sterling! If your company is on a similar mission, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you tell your story.