88

88

YRS

888

888

DAYS

88

88

HRS

:

88

88

MIN

:

88

88

SEC

Look beyond popular areas for green innovations: investors

17

January 2022

Industry professionals are urging entrepreneurs keen on addressing environmental issues to look beyond trending topics to make a larger impact.

They add that bringing down the cost of existing technological solutions to climate change is also important, in a dialogue organised by Eco-Business on breakthrough green innovations.

Paul Santos, managing partner of venture capital firm Wavemaker Partners, said that based on his firm’s research in Southeast Asia, vehicles contribute to about an eighth of total carbon emissions, but over 60 per cent of venture capital is going towards lower-carbon transport solutions like electric vehicles.

“Entrepreneurs aren’t looking at the other areas. Why? Because they’re just not aware,” said Santos, adding that the bulk of emissions come from agriculture, industrial processes and the built environment.

He cited one of Wavemaker’s portfolio firms, eFishery, as an example of opportunities in overlooked sectors. The start-up is earning millions of dollars in revenue selling automated feeding systems that reduce waste to fish and shrimp farms across Indonesia.

Last week, the start-up raised US$90 million in a fresh round of funding, and is looking to expand the business to countries like China and India.

“What’s exciting for me is working with these entrepreneurs in the businesses that didn’t seem so sexy at that time and seeing them break through, seeing the impact that they can have,” Santos said.

Malavika Bambawale, Asia Pacific managing director of sustainability solutions at energy consultancy Engie Impact, said other blind spots for entrepreneurs include more efficient forms of energy storage.

She added that the nexus between technology and electricity generation is ripe for innovation, citing sensor technology to monitor power usage.

Phil Inagaki, managing director of early-stage investment platform Xora, warned against “tunnel vision” for entrepreneurs developing highly scientific solutions.

“They’re not aware of other similar technologies that are at a more advanced stage or sometimes competing technologies solving the same problem but coming from a different angle,” he said. “When you’re embarking on something where you’re not really planning to hit the market for years, you can’t really afford to be making decisions in the absence of that intelligence.”

There was also a discussion about finding meaningful innovations.

“It is tempting to say that the technology should be simple, or the solution should be something that’s easily and widely adopted,” said Bambawale. “That’s not true because sometimes the best solutions require systemic change.”

Bambawale cited the example of solar power technology, which once matured, became a mainstream energy source.

“The tricky part is, what time frame are we looking at?” she added, noting that solar power took 30 years to become widely adopted.

Inagaki said that to achieve such systemic change, bringing down the cost of green technologies should also be a focus of research and development, citing the example of “green” hydrogen fuel – made from splitting water atoms with renewable energy.

Green hydrogen is currently selling at US$3-7.50 per kilogramme, several times higher than natural gas, a fossil fuel. Hydrogen could replace natural gas in industrial applications and power generation, and some countries have started to test out injecting hydrogen into natural gas pipelines.

“We’ve been able to make hydrogen from water and electricity for a long time. But again, it’s the economics,” he said. “For the hydrogen economy to exist, you need systemic change. But one of the main hurdles is: can you make green hydrogen while bringing down the costs?”

Inagaki added that several emerging breakthrough solutions, such as sustainable aviation fuels and capturing carbon dioxide from the air, are technologically possible but lack cost competitiveness.

Both are nascent technologies that have yet to scale up. Direct air capture of CO2 has also been deemed economically unviable because it requires up to US$600 to capture one ton of CO2, but there are attempts to lower the cost to about US$100.

Bambawale added that cost considerations may also hinder large firms from investing in innovation, as would regulatory uncertainty. On the sidelines of the event, she told Eco-Business that one example of a regulation was private power-purchase agreements in the solar industry, which allow firms to sell power directly to end-users. Such deals are becoming more common, but they remain complex in Indonesia, and are relatively new in Vietnam.

The panellists were speaking at the launch of The Liveability Challenge, an annual contest to find innovations to make Asia’s cities healthier, greener places to live. The event has been run by Eco-Business and Temasek Foundation, a charity arm of Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings, since 2018.

The winner will receive S$1 million in project funding. Past winners include US start-up SeaChange, which sought to extract carbon dioxide from the sea, and lab-grown food firm TurtleTree Labs.

News Archive.

From the lab to the world: Transforming climate tech solutions into reality
10
June 2022
第五届宜居挑战赛 德国公司农林项目获奖
9
June 2022
Social forestry project wins the Liveability Challenge 2022
4
May 2022
Who made the cut for The Liveability Challenge 2022?
28
July 2021
Carbon capture idea wins The Liveability Challenge 2021
18
May 2021
Finalists for The Liveability Challenge 2021 revealed
18
January 2021
In the race to net zero, which sustainability solutions are most needed?
15
February 2021
The MONEY FM 89.3
1
February 2021
Robert Downey Jr's new green tech fund invests in The Liveability Challenge winner RWDC Industries
12
August 2020
Singapore start-up TurtleTree Labs Contributes to Raising Food Self-sufficiency with Cell-cultured Milk
29
July 2020
Eco Money: The tide is turning for sustainable startups
22
July 2020
Milk research start-up wins S$1,000,000 in Singapore
11
July 2020
Singapore-Based Startup Wins S$1 Million Prize in Liveability Challenge
14
July 2020
Food & Beverage Asia
11
July 2020
The Jakarta Post
8
July 2020
The Straits Times
8
July 2020
Cow-free milk wins The Liveability Challenge 2020
26
May 2020
Seven finalists to compete in The Liveability Challenge 2020
22
May 2020
Seven finalists for The Liveability Challenge 2020 Grand Finale unveiled
6
April 2020
COVID-19 Advisory
28
January 2020
The MONEY FM 89.3
20
January 2020
Asia Pacific Food Industry
Which sustainability solutions are most needed to save Southeast Asia’s cities?
15
January 2020
The Leadership Post
15
January 2020
Indvstrvs
15
January 2020
Lianhe Zaobao
14
June 2019
Indvstrvs
12
June 2019
The MONEY FM 89.3
9
June 2019
CNA 938
9
June 2019
Today Online
8
June 2019
The Straits Times
7
June 2019
The Straits Times
7
June 2019
Sustainable plant protein wins The Liveability Challenge 2019
7
June 2019
New Fortune Times
23
May 2019
Witness the showdown at The Liveability Challenge 2019 Grand Finale
8
May 2019
Finalists unveiled for The Liveability Challenge 2019
6
May 2019
Finalists for The Liveability Challenge 2019 Grand Finale unveiled
12
January 2019
The Straits Times
11
January 2019
Lianhe Zaobao
11
January 2019
Xinhua News
10
January 2019
New Fortune Times
8
August 2018
The Borneo Post
7
August 2018
Bernama.com
25
July 2018
TRIA
16
July 2018
TLC Winner Announced
13
July 2018
The SQ Feed
13
July 2018
The Star Malaysia
12
July 2018
Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore
11
July 2018
The Ridge Magazine
11
July 2018
The Edge Singapore
17
April 2018
The New Paper
6
April 2018
The Straits Times
5
April 2018
First-ever Liveability Challenge offers up to S$1m for game-changing urban innovations

Partners.

Strategic Partners
Challenge Partners
Outreach Partners
Communications Partner
Powered by
Become a partner
We're looking for partners. Join The Liveability Challenge partner network to help us spread the word and find solutions for a more liveable, sustainable Asia.