DBS And Global Partners To Support The Development Of Green Solutions

DigitalCFO Newsroom | 8 November 2022

DBS and global partners sound clarion call to climate innovators developing solutions to address carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas removal.

Sustaintech Xcelerator launches the second cycle of its six-month accelerator programme focused on innovative climate tech solutions that can help businesses become more carbon efficient

A total of SGD250,000 in grants as well as research, mentoring, networking and office space support to be awarded to up to five successful applicants.

With the risk of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions pushing past dangerous warming thresholds, DBS together with seven partners and supporters, have committed to further build on efforts to nurture and scale the climate tech ecosystem.

DBS and global partners today launched the second cycle of Sustaintech Xcelerator, a six-month climate-focused hybrid accelerator programme organised in partnership with Temasek, GenZero, Google Cloud, the World Bank, Capgemini, and the Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Verra will support Sustaintech Xcelerator as an independent standard setter. The group aims to accelerate the development of practicable climate tech solutions that will help businesses reduce their carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions at a faster rate.

The second run of Sustaintech Xcelerator will focus on solutions in three main areas:

  • Nature-based approaches such as afforestation and reforestation
  • Technology-based approaches such as carbon capture and storage
  • Enablers such as digital tools and capabilities on carbon accounting and sourcing of ESG data, with a preference for solutions that can help SMEs implement viable technology solutions to green their operations

A total of SGD 250,000 in grants will be awarded to up to five successful applicants to scale their solutions. These successful applications will also get access to Sustaintech Xcelerator’s network of world-leading research and commercial partners and will also be paired with senior mentors in the climate tech ecosystem. In addition, they also have the option of receiving in-kind support such as mentoring and office space at DBS’ innovation hub, DBS Asia X (DAX).

Helge Muenkel, Chief Sustainability Officer at DBS, said, “We need to accelerate climate action at scale. Sustaintech Xcelerator is well-placed to drive real action by providing sustaintech start-ups with mentorship from some of the best businesses and academics globally as well as technical and financial assistance so that these innovators can bring next generation solutions to life.”

While the race to reduce carbon emissions remains an important strategy in managing the climate crisis, climate math is showing that gigatonne-scale carbon removal is needed in the coming decades to avoid the worst effects of climate change. According to World Resource Institute (WRI) and Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) is increasingly recognised as a critical strategy for the world to achieve its target of becoming a global net zero economy by 2050[1].

When paired with the simultaneous deployment of carbon management and mitigation measures, CDR is an effective tool that can address emissions from the hard-to-abate sectors such as agriculture and transportation to remove legacy carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere[2].

Bidyut Dumra, Group Head of Innovation at DBS, said, “From the first cycle of the Sustaintech Xcelerator, it has been evident that there is both quantity and quality in the start-up ecosystem within the CDR domain. DBS and partners want to tap into that rich pool of innovative solutions and take a few through an amplification process where promising climate tech start-ups can draw on the deep and diverse expertise of our globally recognised partners. The time has come to amplify our efforts to green our emissions and business models.”

Encouraging Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to accelerate their net zero commitments

An inaugural survey of 800 SMEs across six markets in Asia conducted by DBS and Bloomberg Media Studios in August found that Environmental Social and Governance initiatives are a business priority for more than 80% of SMEs in Asia. On the flip side, the top three challenges that SMEs face are – balancing the roll-out of sustainability solutions with business priorities, a lack of knowledge and know-how on which sustainability solutions to implement and the difficulty in calculating clear return-on-investment (ROI). 

Muenkel added, “SMEs are the backbone of economies globally, they make up 90% of businesses and provide more than 50% of employment worldwide. As such, they have a very important part to play in the green transition. It is essential that they are given access to viable sustaintech solutions to green their operations in an efficient and practical manner. We hope that the solutions borne out of the Sustaintech Xcelerator will empower SMEs on their net zero journeys.”

Even as Sustaintech Xcelerator starts its second cycle, its first cohort has continued to scale-up their offerings:  

  • Perennial (or formerly known as Cloud Agronomics), developing standards and technology to underpin the generation of soil-based carbon removal credits for the voluntary carbon market, recently raised a funding round with investors including GenZero and Temasek. Its vision is to unlock soil as the world’s largest carbon sink.
  • Sylvera, the leading carbon credit ratings platform, has gone on to raise a SGD 32m Series A from investors, Index Ventures, Insight Partners, Salesforce and LocalGlobe, to accelerate it’s mission to become a source of truth for carbon markets.
  • Taking Root, accelerating the restoration of the world’s forests, works with organisations to enable smallholder farmers to grow trees and earn money from the carbon they remove from the atmosphere. After participating in Sustaintech Xcelerator Cycle 1 and the inaugural Google Climate Change Accelerator, Taking Root has expanded their flagship CommuniTree Carbon Program across the entire country of Nicaragua.
  • Treevia, smart technological solution for monitoring forest assets, joined Google for Startup Accelerator (agribusiness) in Brazil; received investment and recently started multiple projects (in amazon and in other biomes) with corporates and governments to deploy its IoT sensor-to-satellite technology with Treevia SmartForest, an intelligent platform for Digital MRV and forest operation management.
  • Rainforest Connection (RFCx), using acoustic technology to stop illegal deforestation and monitor the biodiversity of threatened wildlife and rainforests, in the past 12 months, has deployed 103 RFCx Guardians for various projects around the world and expanded their work to an additional 19 countries.