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Driving Sustainability: How Partnering with Climate-Tech Startups Can Help You Kick ESG Goals

Driving Sustainability: How Partnering with Climate-Tech Startups Can Help You Kick ESG Goals
What's new: K-Startup Grand Challenge 2020 for Australian/New Zealand Startups! More information here.


The imperative for environmental sustainability and robust ESG practices has propelled large organizations to seek innovative solutions that align profitability with planet-friendly initiatives. As these companies navigate the challenges of integrating sustainability into their core strategies, partnering with climate tech startups emerges as a potent strategy. This article underscores the rationale behind collaboration and highlights real-world instances of large organizations successfully partnering with climate tech startups to advance their sustainability and ESG objectives.

1. Unleashing Novelty through Collaboration

Climate tech startups, fueled by boundless creativity, stand as harbingers of innovation across sectors. Their agile, risk-embracing culture often yields groundbreaking solutions that elude larger corporations. Toyota's partnership with Joby Aviation exemplifies this innovation drive. Toyota invested $394 million in Joby Aviation's electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft project, aligning with their ambition to revolutionize urban air mobility. Such collaborations harness the inventive prowess of startups, translating into accelerated progress towards sustainability goals.

2. Catalyzing Implementation Speed

Labyrinthine corporate structures and legacy systems can impede swift implementation of sustainability initiatives. Enter climate tech startups, agile and capable of swiftly adapting to market dynamics. Microsoft's collaboration with CarbonCure Technologies exemplifies this. CarbonCure's innovative concrete production technology sequesters carbon dioxide into concrete, reducing its carbon footprint. Microsoft integrated this technology into its campus renovation project, demonstrating how startups can expedite the adoption of eco-friendly practices within massive organizations.

3. Expertise Access and Knowledge Exchange

Climate tech startups are founded and staffed by domain experts, possessing insights into emerging trends and regulatory shifts. Amazon's partnership with Rivian, an electric vehicle startup, is illustrative. Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, accelerating its transition towards sustainable logistics. Rivian's expertise in electric vehicle manufacturing complements Amazon's aspirations, fostering knowledge exchange and sustainable transformation, while innovative battery intelligence further enhances the efficiency and performance of their electric vehicle fleet.

4. Elevating Corporate Reputation

A commitment to sustainability elevates corporate reputation, resonating with eco-conscious consumers. Unilever's partnership with AgroSustain, a Swiss startup specializing in plant protection solutions, exemplifies this. AgroSustain's biofungicide technology aligns with Unilever's sustainable sourcing goals. By incorporating such solutions, Unilever enhances its image as an ecologically conscious brand, appealing to socially responsible consumers.

5. Attracting Responsible Investment

Investors increasingly consider sustainability and ESG performance when allocating capital. Large organizations that partner with climate tech startups signal their dedication to impactful change. BP's collaboration with Lightsource BP, a solar energy startup, showcases this. BP's investment in Lightsource BP underscores its commitment to renewable energy and carbon reduction, attracting investors with a penchant for environmentally responsible ventures.

6. Nurturing Economic Resilience

Collaborations with climate tech startups transcend individual companies, fostering economic growth. Apple's partnership with LanzaTech, a company converting carbon emissions into sustainable fuels, exemplifies this economic synergy. LanzaTech's technology contributes to decarbonizing industries while supporting job creation and economic advancement.


The urgency of addressing climate change necessitates bold and innovative action. Large organizations, armed with resources and influence, must navigate the sustainability landscape strategically. Partnering with climate tech startups serves as a transformative strategy, unlocking innovation, expediting implementation, and fostering a shared commitment to sustainable progress. The examples mentioned—Toyota, Microsoft, Amazon, Unilever, BP, and Apple—underscore the tangible benefits of such partnerships, accentuating that when corporate giants and entrepreneurial innovators unite, the pursuit of sustainability becomes a formidable force, setting the stage for a brighter, greener future.


Workflow Podcast

The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.

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To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.

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Unlock new opportunities and markets by taking your brand into the brave new world.

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Tom Chambers

Tom Chambers is the Innovation Consultant at Collective Campus.

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